Southwest Tennessee Community College

Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2007

For more information contact: Kimberly Kreider, (901)333-4023

Release written by: Pat O’Brien, (901) 333-4021

John Pritchard, instructor in Southwest’s Fine Arts, Languages and Literature Department, found himself in the very enviable position this spring as a panelist at the world famous Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival – one result of the success of his first published book, Junior Ray.

“I was flattered and very, very delighted,” said Pritchard. “This was the culmination of one of the most glorious events of my life - the publishing of my first book. Then the New Orleans festival people called my publisher and requested I sit on two panels," one of which he was requested to define and name.

“It was on first books and new voices. I called it Orpheus Ascending, a kind of take-up on Williams’ Orpheus Descending, one of his weightier works and a far cry from the much lighter first novels, novellas and short story collections the panel reviewed. Their subjects ranged from fallen women and secret words to racist diatribes and sideshow freaks," including Pritchard's own Junior Ray.

“The other panel was Writing outside the Box: Outrageous Fiction,” said Pritchard. Panelists were authors of first books “as outrageous as Junior Ray. The anti-heroes included a mob boss, a foul-mouthed redneck – that was Junior – and a sideshow freak.” The program blurb urged, “If you’re up for some laughs and gasps, this is the panel for you.”

Pritchard has taught freshman composition and sophomore world literature at the College since 1992, following a career as a copywriter in advertising and corporate communications, and jingle writer for John Tanner, Walker, Thompson, AutoZone and other local agencies. As a lyricist at Tree International, the largest country music publishing house in the world, he co-wrote a Captain & Tennile single that went to number 13 on Billboard's Hot 100.

A second Junior Ray type book is under contract and due out by Spring 2008, with a third in the works. Junior Ray is now on shelves in more than 185 libraries across the country, including the Chicago and Los Angeles systems, and the Harvard and Yale university libraries, "I think that was due primarily to the rave review put up by nationally acclaimed Publishers Weekly in New York," said Pritchard. It looks now, if's assessment of Junior Ray as "one of the top 10 best debut novels of 2005" is an indicator, that Pritchard is poised for the writing success he has sought for so long.