Laura Pritchett knew something was wrong the day her father refused to get into an elevator with his family.
“I don’t know what it’s for,” he said.
The 69-year-old rancher, geneticist, and world traveler was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a week later.
Pritchett, who discussed her new novel Stars Go Blue at Boulder Bookstore on June 4, said she wondered “What’s the world like from his point of view?” She was surprised to learn her father had become somewhat of a poet as he described the world and his thoughts in long, beautiful phrases. Her dad doesn’t talk now, she said, but loves to whistle and walk with her around the ranch she grew up on.
Her father’s experience, along with her love of the characters in her short story, “Hell’s Bottom, Colorado” led to her third book of fiction.
Some characters stay with her long after a story has been published. “Ben and Renny were still important to me,” she said, referring to the estranged elderly spouses.
In Stars Go Blue, which uses ranch life as a metaphor for the way the Ben’s mind works, they’re faced with the farm’s decline and Ben’s struggles with Alzheimer’s when they learn the abusive husband who killed their daughter is being released from prison. Ben decides to seek justice, and sets off during a brutal snowstorm to confront his former son-in-law.
Shades of King Lear color the novel. Pritchett, who said her favorite college professor helped her love and understand Shakespeare, pointed out that King Lear had dementia and invented words and phrases like Pritchett’s father did.
After reading from her book, Pritchett answered questions, one of which was about her family’s reaction to Stars Go Blue.
While not everyone in her family is a fan of the book, Pritchett said it was absolutely written out of love and respect for everyone. The characters are fiction. But in the places that they do overlap with reality, she feels like she more or less wrote a love story to the people in her life.
“It’s important that authors stay true to their vision,” she said. “Sure, it’s important to be respectful and careful of others, but one must never let others’ opinions get in the way of telling the truth, of being courageous. That’s what good writing is.”
For a schedule of upcoming book signings around the West, visit www.LauraPritchett.com.
Katherine Valdez wrote “The Monster In Her Bedroom” (Havok Magazine Issue 1.1) and blogs about author events. Subscribe: http://www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com/blog, like: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatherineValdez, follow on Twitter and Instagram: @KatValdezWriter.
STARS GO BLUE author Laura Pritchett and Patricia Walker (author, Dance of the Electric Hummingbird: An Ordinary Woman’s Accidental Journey To Enlightenment, The Supernatural, and Rock star Sammy Hagar) at Boulder Bookstore on June 4.