Athens author Muriel Pritchett plans to visit a book club at the Commerce Public Library later this month for a reading of her recently released fifth novel, “Sour Grapes and Balmy Knight,” but it’s a promotional duty she has come to enjoy.
The novel is the fourth she has written in the “Feisty Women’s Fiction Series.”
“The women I write for — they are feisty,” Pritchett said, describing how inquisitive the audience is with their questions about her works.
Pritchett’s books in the series are aimed at older women, but her characters are laced with vibrant personalities with settings that include a university and a Caribbean cruise, where all sorts of mischievous behavior abounds.
The latest novel in the series is based along the Georgia coast, where the central character Balmy Knight becomes involved in a love interest with a British tycoon and a down-and-out mystery man.
Pritchett, retired from the University of Georgia in public relations and a former journalist, had planned to attend the Amelia Island Book Festival in February, but the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Outside the series, Pritchett has written the young adult novel “Not Myself Today,” an adventure into the paranormal released last year. She has another young-adult book due for publication in March.
Becoming an author didn’t happen overnight for the Atlanta native. After retiring, she recalls being told by her physician to “get a hobby.” So, she started writing children’s books.
“In 10 years, I went to workshops and I wrote these books. The agents and editors would say, ‘good plot and character, but I can’t connect to the voice,’” she said.
A friend encouraged her to write a book for older women. And it so happened the voice in the book connected to the reader.
“I have an old lady’s voice,” she confessed with a slight chuckle.
Amassing a lifetime of toils and joys, Pritchett is able to draw on her experiences to cloak reality with fiction.
For instance, in the upcoming young adult book, she drew on a moonlit night of her honeymoon days on the coast, where her husband’s family lived.
“I’m a young bride and all these guys wanted to take me mullet jumping. I figured it was a snipe hunt — a snipe hunt on the water,” she said.
“They put me in this rowboat and in the middle of the boat is this big tin tub filled with branches and sticks. I thought that was kind of weird, but necessary,” she said.
“We went out on this tidal creek. The skipper struck a match and threw it in the sticks and it went swoosh. I’m sitting in a boat with a bonfire,” Pritchett said, recalling how bewildering the scene felt.
“All of a sudden these mullets started jumping out of the water all over me and I started screaming and they started laughing.”
The memory of a weird night on the river happened many years ago, but today the writer has found a story that needs a mullet jumping.
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Athens author Muriel Pritchett releases novel for feisty, mature women