Interview of Don & Stephanie Prichard
- You two co-author your novels. How did this happen?
Steph: Funny that Don is the one who got us started. He is dyslexic, therefore hated writing, and seldom read anything growing up other than comic books. I always loved reading and writing and wanted to be an author. When I became a wife and mom, I simply forgot about the dream. Then one day, at age 57, Don told me this storyline was stuck in his head and he wanted to publish it as a novel. I confess I snickered. He worked at it for four years before inviting me to join him. I figured I’d be nice and correct the spelling and grammar, but instead I fell in love with the story. Little did I know that I had to “learn to write” too. It took us ten years to reach publication, but sharing the “passion” has been a fantastic experience.
- Did you find it easy to work together on it?
Don: It really helped to have a division of labor. While I wrote the initial draft, I realized I had to turn my precious baby over to Steph and trust her feminine sensibilities to soften the way I’d told the story. At first I gritted my teeth at any suggestion of change, but as we read how-to books together and attended writers’ conferences, I realized the worth of literary surgery on my poor child.
- How did the team-work impact you?
Don: It ultimately caused me to love my wife more as I grew in respect for her. I marveled at the way she was able to elegantly express ideas that I was just clumsy with.
Steph: I tend to be a global thinker and often reduce my knowledge to the bottom line. Over and over I was impressed with the details Don had imbedded in the story, especially from his experiences as a Marine Corps reservist and Viet Nam veteran. I also discovered that although he wasn’t a big reader, all those movies he watched had made him into an excellent plotter. Most important for both of us was that collaborating on our novel created a terrifically enjoyable bond for us as husband and wife.
- What is the hardest thing about writing as a team?
Steph: We rarely disagree but when we do, we feel free as husband and wife to, um, clearly express ourselves. However, with fifty-one years of marriage under our belts, we also know how to get over it, find a way to agree, and move on. Being Christians with access to prayer definitely makes a difference.
- What are you reading right now?
Don: I like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series because there is lots of action and the story is not slowed with unnecessary description.
Steph: Our church has a women’s book club, so right now I’m reading A Different Sun by Elaine Neil Orr for them, and The Distant Hours by Kate Morton for me.
- How did you choose your characters’ names?
Steph: Poor Don, we’ve ended up changing most of the names he started out with. He had all the first names of the protagonist’s family handily begin with J, and all the names of the antagonist’s family begin with R. Not any more! The protagonist’s last name is Chalmers, which is a family name in Don’s ancestry. Otherwise, the names were randomly chosen or selected from a list for the year they were born.
- Do your novels feature certain themes?
Don: I pretty much focus on the action of the story. Steph “discovers” and develops the themes.
Steph: I love developing the themes of our books. Our overall plan is to subtly feature a character quality of God in each novel and man’s struggle with it. In Stranded, the character quality is God’s sovereignty; man’s struggle is seeing God as good in light of the hard things that happen to us. In Forgotten, God is featured as the Just Judge; man’s struggle is with not taking vengeance into our own hands.
- Anything else you want to tell us about your books?
Don: Men will enjoy reading them.
Steph: Women too, of course! I think having a man and a woman co-author the stories has made them an attractive mixture of adventure and suspense on the one hand, and warm relationships between the characters (eventually—ha!) on the other hand.
Thanks, Lisa, for inviting us to your blog! Your readers rock!