Muriel Ellis Pritchett, a University of Georgia alum and previous writer for the Red & Black in the 1960’s, has written a new paranormal young adult book. The book, “Not Myself Today,” is about a high school soccer star who dies suddenly during a game and wakes up in the body of a teenage sex trafficking victim.
According to a press release forwarded to the Red & Black from Black Rose Writing, the publisher for Pritchett’s works, the book is a notable departure from Prichett’s previous books, which were primarily comedies for older women.
Pritchett said she was motivated to change genres because she wanted to write something her daughter would enjoy.
“My daughters would not read my books for older women, and they said that I would have to write something they would like to read,” Pritchett said. “So I said, ‘well, if that’s what it takes for you to read one of your momma’s books, then I’ll write one.”
The transition from breezy comedy to what Pritchett describes as “Freaky Friday meets Stephen King” was not easy. However, she had the support of her writing group to help her make that transition.
Gail Karwoski and Susan Vizurraga are both members of Prichett’s writing group. Karowski is a children’s book author whose portfolio includes “The Tree That Owns Itself, and Other Adventure Tales.” Vizurraga is also a children’s book author who has written stories such as “Our Old House” and upper middle grade fiction with “The Cure for Infinity.”
Pricthett’s group offered suggestions to her as she was developing the book.
“You might say something to another writer about how that doesn’t sound like something a teenager would say, it sounds like something a grown-up would say,” Karowski said. “Particularly Susan, the person with the most recent teaching experience out of all of us, Susan might say ‘I really don’t hear kids use that term anymore. It’s outdated.’”
Vizurraga admitted that the paranormal aspect of the book was difficult to talk about since she didn’t primarily write or read that. However, Karwoski stated that they often helped each other find reference material in other books or movies.
One of the most significant changes Pritchett made to her book with the advice of her group was changing the lead character from a 59-year-old scientist to a young soccer star, which she thought would avoid alienating younger readers.
As for the dark subject matter of her book, Pritchett admitted that she was inspired by the work of Jane O. Hansen, a former investigative reporter at the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Hansen’s 2001 series, “Selling Atlanta’s Children”, helped provide Pritchett insight into the sex trafficking epidemic in her home city. Pritchett said she references Hansen’s contribution to the book in her author’s note.
Due to the coronavirus panpidemic, Pritchett was unable to host or participate in the in-person events she would normally have with a launch. She instead had to switch to virtual events to generate buzz for the book’s release.
“Everything is virtual now, and that’s a whole new ball game,” Pritchett said. “It was way above my job description, but I’m trying to learn about it.”
She was able to participate in a book blog tour. which involved sending an advanced book copy to the blogger who would then review the book.The author would provide a guest-post as well as answer a set of interview questions from the blogger.
Looking forward, Pritchett confirmed that she has considered making a sequel.
“I already had one reviewer who said that she hoped there would be a sequel coming,” Pritchett said. “And I had not even thought of doing a sequel to the book, but now that she had put the idea in my head, I figured I might go ahead and do that.”
“Not Myself Today” will be available for purchase on September 24 at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and the Black Rose Writing website.