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Former WKU professor publishes ‘Letters from the Karst’ novel

Photo provided by Legacy Book Press.

Jane Olmsted, a retired English professor from WKU, recently published her latest work, ‘Letters from the Karst’, on April 9th. The book follows the Collins family and their paths after their father’s death, leaving three daughters and their mother to find ways to move forward. 

Olmsted started her career at WKU in 1996 and worked there for 25 years before retiring in 2021. During her time at WKU, she focused her work on English literature and the Gender & Women’s Studies field.

The novel, which Olmsted began writing in 2001, is a collection of shorter stories and perspectives. Each story compliments the details of others creating a much larger narrative that connects across the collection.

The overarching story occurs in Bowling Green and features characters who work and attend WKU. Some tales take place at different times and are narrated by secondary characters. Each story follows a similar theme of exploring Bowling Green’s landscape and local history, which interconnects the characters and plot as a whole.

To Olmsted, the novel reflects moments within her own life as well as others around her. She mentioned how her characters encounter the same things that she and those close to her experienced such as death, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

“The story of the Collins family is one of healing from devastating loss, betrayal, and abuses,” Olsmsted said, “Awful things happen and I don’t gloss over them, but what I want readers to remember is the inner light, the courage and graciousness these characters and we all possess.”

With the initial idea of exploring a different cave in each story, Olmsted found there was a parallel between the way her characters interacted and the physical geography of the town her fiction takes place in. 

“Like a karst system, human relations weave, grow intense, then cool, and sometimes are intentional and intimate, but others are not. At the center of the book is the Collins family.” Olmsted said.

In the book, Olmsted features characters that are based on her past students who attended WKU, and feels that the inclusion of these characters makes great use for appealing to the young adult audience. “Most of the students I’ve known over the years are tremendously caring. Some have endured tragedies or horrible trauma and are still showing up to classes. I could hold up any one of those wonderful people as a model for the characters in ‘Letters from the Karst’,” Olmsted said.

Olmsted’s book can be found and purchased on Amazon. Her blogs and other works can be found on her website,

News Reporter Larkin Ivory can be reached at [email protected].

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