Friday, October 11, 2019

Bill Prickett Author Interview


Photo Content from Bill Prickett 

Bill Prickett grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, the “Bible Belt” of the Deep South. He served more than five years in youth ministry, eleven years as Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church, and four years as Pastor of an independent, evangelical congregation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Religion, with a double minor in English and Psychology. His seminary training included advanced theological studies and biblical languages.

To comply with the teachings of his conservative Christian faith, he spent more than eight years trying to change his sexual orientation. Eventually, he became Executive Director of an “ex-gay” ministry, working with others who also struggled with homosexuality. He wrote curriculum, spoke at churches and conferences around the country, was interviewed by national and local media, and became a go-to consultant for evangelical organizations and Christian counselors.

Since abandoning those futile efforts, he’s spent decades speaking out about the deception and dangers of programs now known as Conversion Therapy. It’s a regular topic on his popular blog, and numerous publications have featured his survivor story or sought out his personal insights on this subject.

After leaving the ministry, he built a successful career in public relations and communications. Now retired, he lives outside Dallas, Texas with his husband and their rescue mutt.

    
  


Where were you born and where do you call home?
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I lived there until I went away for seminary, then returned to become senior pastor of my first congregation. After leaving the ministry, I moved to Southern California, then to Texas. I currently live just outside Dallas.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
I know the common answer is WRITE. I can’t argue with that, but I think I would add two more:
  • 1. Read. We learn when we see how others do it. Read the classics and current bestsellers. Also, move outside your genre, and outside your comfort zone; read from authors of different faiths, genders, backgrounds and experiences. 
  • 2. Learn your craft. Spelling, grammar, sentence structure are not sexy, but they’re the difference in a writer and a good writer. (If you choose to ignore this one, at least enlist the help of an excellent editor.) 
Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.
In my first year of high school, our English teacher asked us to write a creative short story, and show various figures of speech we utilize in our story. She liked mine, and submitted it to the school newspaper, and it was published. I was asked to join the newspaper staff, and by my senior year, I was editor. I think that’s when I fell in love with writing, and over the years, it’s always been a part of my life. 

When I left the ministry, my writing became my vocation, not just my avocation. I built a successful career in public relations and communications. Whether writing for publications, speeches, business communications, blogs, or novels, I enjoy the creative process and the satisfaction of the finished product. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published
Any time I hear from someone who’s read one of my books, and been impacted by the story. A few years ago, I got a phone call from someone with whom I’d not spoken in years. They’d just read my third novel, A Time to Every Purpose, and called me in tears. Thankfully, it was joyful tears, and they wanted to tell me how much the story meant to them. 

In your new book; A DOUBLE-MINDED MAN, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it
The story opens in January of 1982. My main character, Nate Truett, is returning to work after a leave of absence following the death of his wife. He’s ready to get back to a familiar routine, as a Christian Counselor on staff with an Evangelical church in Birmingham, Alabama.

A chance meeting with openly gay Trey Stravos disrupts that plan, revealing that Nate has a secret. Because of the rigid teachings of his religious faith, as well as a commitment to his ministry and his marriage, he’s always successfully suppressed these attractions. 

As their friendship grows, Nate’s self-imposed constraints dissolve, and feelings for Trey surface in ways Nate’s not experienced in the past. When things get physical, the guilt and shame are overwhelming. While there’s a connection and intimacy with Trey he’s never known, what they’re doing goes against everything Nate’s been taught to believe. Not to mention, if anyone found out, it would ruin his career.

Nate panics, and immerses himself in a support group built on the promise that it’s possible to change sexual orientation.

To reconcile his internal conflict, Nate will have to question the faith he's always embraced and confront the desires he's always denied.

A Double-Minded Man is set in the highly religious culture of the deep south, and the main character is wrestling with his sexual orientation, but I don’t think either of those elements define this story.

If you could be a character in any novel you’ve ever read, who would you be and why?
Lucy Pevensie, from the Chronicles of Narnia. To me, she embodies the Hero’s Journey. When we first meet her, there’s a child-like wonder and joy about her. She’s kind, gracious but so persistent and confident. From the beginning, she’s a person of great loyalty. Through the stories, we watch as she grows into a courageous, beloved leader of Narnia. 

What part of Nate did you enjoy writing the most?
So much of Nate grew out of my eight years of desperately trying to change my own sexual orientation, and my involvement in leadership with an organization that worked with others who also struggled with their sexuality. Nate and I share such a kinship, and I loved giving voice to his character. 

Nate is the double-minded man, as was I. He is committed to his faith, but torn about these persistent desires that are inconsistent to everything he’s ever been taught. He has a sincere desire to help others, but feels powerless when it comes to these attractions. 

Writing from his first-person point of view was difficult at times, and reliving that part of my past was painful. Knowing the lasting damage that comes from the decisions Nate was making, I sometimes wanted to scream and warn him. Ultimately writing his story was cathartic for me.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid, and have so many I’d recommend. But the books I’ve read the most—over and over—are the Chronicles of Narnia. We read them to our kids when they were young, and I still love going back to them as an adult. I could also fall back on what I think is the greatest novel ever written, To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as anything by John Steinbeck. 

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Trey?
Trey was originally intended to be a minor character. He’d come into Nate’s life and expose those secret desires, which would then drive Nate into the world of conversion therapy. I didn’t intend for Trey to last past Part One. But there was such a connection between the two characters I could not dismiss him. I won’t give away anything from the plot, but Trey grew into much more than that the mere distraction I’d planned in my initial outline. 

In many ways, Trey’s the polar opposite of Nate. He’s confident, experienced, assertive and probably an atheist. He truly cares about Nate, and freely expresses his affection. However, Nate can’t admits to such feelings since he’s still telling himself that two men can’t…shouldn’t…feel that way toward one another. Trey presence in Nate’s life amplifies all the conflict going on inside. 

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m already working on what I believe will be my next novel—still tinkering with the outline and developing the characters’ backstory, and have about 100 pages of rough copy written. This one is set in a small lake community in North Alabama. The idea came to me, surprisingly, while watching a Hallmark movie. (No judgment!) If it were a script, it definitely would not be in their lineup, but I’m fascinated with the premise. I also have another idea that has captured my attention, and I’ve done some initial research. The two of those, along with my ongoing blog writing, should keep me busy for a while. 

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love for Nate to meet Bailey, the main character in my third novel, A Time to Every Purpose. The lessons that Bailey learned from a divine visitation by a Drag Queen Guardian Angel could have helped Nate navigate the difficult decisions he’s making. 

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
I’m an oddity, and do not carry a wallet. Since I have to have something to keep the stuff I need to access, I have a thin case and keep it all minimal. It only holds my credit and insurance cards, and sometimes, a little cash. 

Have you ever been really freaked out by something on the internet?
All. The. Time! 

I’m active online, and regularly stunned at the way people choose to interact and how they talk to one another, regardless of the topic. Of course, I see it on the news and political sites, but I also follow several entertainment sites, and see such hostility and name-calling…because of a TV show or movie.

Probably the scariest was having my life threatened because of my advocacy for the LGBTQ community. I also freaked out when I reported the threat to the social media platform, and was told it didn’t violate their community standards or qualify as hate speech. 

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Why are you awake at 2:30 am? 

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew?
For the past 30 years, I’ve advocated for those who have been harmed by the spurious practices of what’s now known as conversion therapy. Because of this, I regularly have the opportunity to speak up for others, especially those who’ve chosen to leave these practice and receive intense criticism for that choice. 

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
In college, I was convinced that my entire life would be spent in the ministry, so I determined my education should be geared solely in that direction. I had a few folks tell me that I might want to think about a back-up plan, and perhaps concentrate in something that could help me if the ministry didn’t work out. I was so offended. It was as if they were doubting “my calling” and my dedication to it. I wished I’d listened to them. Thanks to my writing skills, it did all work out, but it was wasn’t an easy process. 

Where can readers find you?
My website is BillPrickett.com, and they can connect with me on my Facebook page: Fcebook.com/billprickett.author

TEN RANDOM THINGS ABOUT BILL PRICKETT
1. I have an allergic reaction to two of the standard ingredients in Mexican/Tex-Mex food – Cilantro and Cayenne Pepper. It sometimes makes living in Texas a challenge. 

2. I collect lions. It has nothing to do with “my sign.” It began when I first read the book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” A friend gave me a coffee mug with a picture of lion on it. Thus began the now-extensive collection.

3. Speaking of coffee, I like coffee, but only coffee. No foam, no cream, no sugar, no frou-frou. Just coffee. Black coffee. And don’t put ice in it. (Starbuck’s would go out of business if it depended on me for income)

4. We have a skittish rescue dog named Brody, who appears to be a mix between Chihuahua and Boston Terrier. He’d been abused and abandoned, and when we got him, he was a few days away from being put down. 

5. I once worked as a writer for a stand-up comedian. (I signed a confidentiality agreement, so I can’t tell the name.) We would get together for a couple of hours each week and discuss topics, issues, current events, etc. and then develop the material. I was paid for each “joke” that was used in the show. (I didn’t get rich, but it was fun.)

6. I’ve flown an airplane. It was on my “Bucket List” so I took flying lessons. I did my solo, and when I landed the plane and got out, I swore I would never do that again. The lessons ended!

7. I once had my own radio talk show, and I’m currently the co-host of a podcast for a national nonprofit organization. 

8. I’ve been using a computer since before DOS and (therefore) before Windows. It doesn’t necessarily make me old; it just shows there was a world out there before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

9. I was active in theater in high school and college. Did some acting, directing, and writing. My dream was to be in the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and play the role of Snoopy. But alas, I can’t sing. 

10. I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, during some of the most well-publicized events of the civil rights movement. We were driving home and had to be diverted because of the riots in downtown—the ones with the iconic fire hoses and dogs. My father worked at a fast food restaurant with a walk-up window for “coloreds” to place their order. I vividly remember the bombing of the church that killed four young girls. When I entered high school, it was the first year of forced desegregation. All these events shaped my perspective, and my sparked my passion for equality.


Still grieving the recent loss of his wife, Nate Truett returns to work, ready to resume the familiar routine on staff at a conservative church in Birmingham, Alabama.

A chance encounter with openly gay Trey Stravos forces to the surface desires Nate has always successfully suppressed. As their friendship grows, Trey disrupts Nate’s self-imposed constraints, introducing him to forbidden pleasures and unexpected intimacy. Unable to reconcile the teachings of his faith with his feelings for Trey, and knowing their relationship puts his entire career at stake, Nate panics, immersing himself in a ministry that promises he can change his sexual orientation.

Change does happen, but it’s not what Nate expected.

You can purchase A Double-Minded Man at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you BILL PRICKETT for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of A Double-Minded Man by Bill Prickett.
jbnpastinterviews

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the article, Jean. It was such a pleasure to work with you and Eric.

    ReplyDelete