Interview with Jill Pritchett

Jill Pritchett

Interview Date: 5/17/2012


Jill Pritchett, professional watercolorist and published author, grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia. She became a professional artist in San Francisco in the early 1970s and was first published in a national equestrian magazine in the 1980s.
An enthusiastic outdoor athlete, Jill also pursues her loves of rock climbing, caving, horseback riding and whitewater kayaking. True to her nature, Jill met her husband, Dennis, on an expedition to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Now Jill's home is on a rural estate nestled on a Pennsylvania hillside with a distant view of the Appalachian Mountains.
Jill's watercolors are a constant reflection of her changing world. Another of her passions is world travel, and she has enjoyed being a travel coordinator since 2003, escorting tourists to her favorite European destinations. When she is not painting commissioned portraits, Jill is creating watercolor memories of her travels. But it's her love of outdoor sports that inspires her writing. Her current adventures with writing fiction are well-placed back home in the Appalachian Mountains where an oddball assortment of characters climb, cave, and paddle their way throughout each mystery.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I have been writing since I was a child, but I became serious about writing fiction after I battled breast cancer in the year 2000. I took a course in creative writing and took the time necessary to learn the craft.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

Flying. Definitely flying. My childhood flying dreams have abandoned me as an adult, and I miss them.

Kev's response: I wonder if people would still choose the same powers if I said they were very weak. (E.g. you could only fly at 1 mph or so...)

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman were my favorites. I especially liked Superboy because he was closer to my age and had Superdog.

Kev's response: Ah, you're speaking of the "old" Superboy, methinks. The "new" one from the last decade or two is a late teen, and something of a rebel.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

All my fiction takes place in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia or the New River Gorge of West Virginia. I am inspired by the beauty of the mountains and the loving, caring people of those areas. I also love the adventures the land offers: the wild rivers for whitewater rafting, vertical cliffs for climbing, and an abundance of caves for endless exploring. All of these come into play in my novels.

Kev's response: Oooh, I haven't explored a cave since my teens.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

My first two novels were written from outlines. They were about the whitewater rafting community, and I hope to publish these mystery novels at a later date.
In March of 2012, I published VIEW FROM MY SOUL, and I did not use an outline at all. I was inspired by Donald Maass when we talked at the reception for the Edgars in NYC in 2010. I presented an idea to him that I had of a psychic shy about her “powers.” He gave me a one-sentence question to base the novel on. (What’s the worst information a psychic can get?) I just took it and ran with it. I knew the beginning and the ending and, to get the middle, I just opened up to my own psychic self. I wrote the novel in less than four months. Then, of course, there were months upon months of edits and re-writes. I’m pleased with the results and plan a sequel.

Kev's response: That's similar to the process I used on my first novel. I knew the beginning of what would happen to the characters (gaining superpowers), and went with the flow on it.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I would love to have a set schedule to write, and I’m somewhat jealous of authors who do. I currently have two horses to care for and a farm we are selling so that we may retire (with our horses) to the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia at the end of this year. We are currently looking for a new home, so, if I get to write this year at all, it will be a miracle. Hopefully, when we are settled in to our new life, I will be able to have a serious writing schedule.

Kev's response: I hope that goes well for you!

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

When I took the creative writing course, I was encouraged to write in the mystery genre, and, when my first short story was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, I joined the Mystery Writers of America. Strangely, I had been a student of the classics and had never read mysteries until I started writing them. I classify VIEW FROM MY SOUL as a suspense novel. I still read anything, but I do read a lot of mystery and suspense thrillers to keep up with my craft.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

The fun! When you’re in the zone and the words are flowing out of your brain faster than your fingers can type—it’s just plain fun. I’m an outdoor sports adrenaline junkie, and writing in the zone gets me just as high as climbing a vertical rock face or jumping my horse.

Kev's response: Aye, being "in the zone" is one of the best parts of writing!

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

The constant editing that’s necessary if I want to have a perfect novel is a difficult process. By that time the high has worn off and the real work has begun. I go over my novel many times, and then I have a group of readers that read for errors. After that, my wonderful professional editor goes in for the kill. “You could lose a few words,” must be her motto.

Kev's response: The removal of words does seem to be a mantra - mostly of those tied to old-school publishing houses. I wonder how that will change in the next decade, as writers are bound less and less by page counts and the cost that goes with them?

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

Yes, my intuitive powers are highly developed.
Also, I’m a watercolor artist and have made my living as an artist for all of my adult life. In fact, I paint the covers for my novels.

Kev's response: Excellent! I design the art for my covers as well, although I'm horrible at the background part.

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

Right now I’m a one story sort of gal. However, once I come out with the Whitewater novels, then I will be working on two separate series, so that will probably change.

Kev's response: I see our evil plots align well! Soon(ish), I'll start my fantasy series, and then will likely shift back and forth between them, although I'll only work on one story at a time.

Have you ever wondered why evil people want to take over the world. Why not take under it?

I do worry about evil taking over, but, since I’m a caver and love to go under the earth, well…I have a pretty good idea of what’s down there. It’s great for Sci-Fi, but not too practical for reality, or it would have been done by now.

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

There is going to be a market for paper books for years to come. There are still quite a few generations that will not give up their paper books. But the future is about change, and the kids that have used computer science since the first grade are the digital e-book generation.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on a sequel for VIEW FROM MY SOUL. I had thought of getting the whitewater books ready to market, but my readers are clamoring for a sequel, so I’ll continue that series for now.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Yes! Make sure that you carefully craft your book. It is helpful to read and read and read the great authors and learn from them. Then get a professional editor to edit your work and listen to them. Finally, do not fall in love with your words because those words are usually the ones you should delete. Editing is a brutal process, but a necessary one.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

My website is hope your readers will come visit me.

Kev's response: Jill, thank you for the interview. I hope the move works out well for you, and opens up a lot more time for writing!

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