The "Author Bio" pdf above offers a quick personal history and 25-year publishing overview.
This "ABOUT" page reveals a longer narrative, never before shared, including a "BACKSTORY" page with audio.
Dear Mr. Pratt -- We have the habit of finding good authors and reading everything they write. You have joined a special club at our house with your novels. Tom Clancy, Dale Brown, and John Grisham are three of the modern-day writers in this category. My wife hopes you are working on book #4 and that it is not too long in coming. Keep up the good work! — Gerald Bolen, Oklahoma
Becoming a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, along with having The Last Valentine become THE LOST VALENTINE in a HALLMARK HALL of FAME World Premier and CBS Movie of the Week -- starring Betty White and Jennifer Love Hewitt and viewed by 14.5 million -- was a privilege of a lifetime. Hard-earned, it took 11 years from the first script to the actual movie. Grateful, I never could have imagined this honor.
The kind words from Mr. Bolen of Oklahoma -- and those received from thousands of other readers from all over the world -- meant a lot to me during great days when I was trying to figure out my road. I was stringing together one novel after another in the late 90s and early 2000s but...
I was just Jim, a guy-next-door, who had survived two life-saving surgeries in the 24 months before becoming published in 1997 when The Last Valentine took over my life.
The "Backstory" link below shares some life history, challenges, and disabling influences that ultimately sharpened my writing and focus skills, causing me to become more sensitive to the suffering of others while influencing my storytelling. Strangely, it all evolved into what I can only call an "unplanned disappearing act."
My writing career spans 25 years, though I have been absent from the literary scene for a number of those years. What probably appears a disappearing act by me for more than a decade, was in reality, something else.
Taking a step forward, strangely will often require a step back in order to fix a critical situation in life. It's not fun, and definitely takes one off-track in a progression of career or well-planned path in life. But in my case, a nagging life-long physical condition was not going to wait. If I did what I contemplated, it would require a future "comeback," which I knew would be a difficult maneuver in my writing career. But I had no choice.
This is my story of taking that "step back" and how it evolved as a time to write, heal, and mend.
The "Comeback Story" is still being written.
After 6 published bestselling titles including novels, The Last Valentine, The Lighthouse Keeper, Ticket Home, Paradise Bay, and non-fiction inspirational titles: DAD, The Man Who Lied to Save the Planet, MOM, The Woman Who Made Oatmeal Stick to My Ribs, I still had one book contract to complete.
I was under enormous ongoing physical challenges that began years earlier. At the same time, the youthful years of spine-wrecking football and other sports injuries to the back and neck, along with almost daily blinding headaches since my final game, resulted in chronic painkiller use; both over-the-counter and prescribed.
Because this became my customized life experience, I never considered myself disabled by invisible injuries and accompanying pain, I simply doubled down on each effort I was engaged in. Still, I regularly sought answers spending tens of thousands of dollars over the years.
Medical doctors seemed to brush me off and I was left to suffer, dope up, smile, and repeat this endlessly. In fact, it was my "normal," but at some point your faking becomes breaking. I quietly measured how much I could offer privately while creating a "full-blast" persona in public.
I considered how privileged I felt to hear from readers from all over the world. Readers and their experience with the words I pen are always at the forefront of my mind. I did not want to let a great and growing audience down.
Writing and creating a new novel wasn't the problem -- that was where I found relief -- I could manage my physical requirements at home. My challenge simply became exhaustion coupled with hard-to-hide physical misery; masked by pills. Shortness of temper grew in this exasperating state of sameness as the years rolled by.
I realized that forcing the body through chronicity of lifelong spinal, head, and neck injury was having a negative impact on family, some friends, and even professional contacts. I found myself unintentionally sabotaging relationships while believing then that pain justified any off-balance image I created.
My production was keeping pace, I reasoned. However, I couldn't mask spine and concussion-related torments as well as I hoped. I knew something had to give.
Feigning a smile in public for the camera, I struggled to know what to do, while relying upon heavy dosing of painkillers to see me through the constant 24/7 pain. After four decades of this, the heavens were still not answering regular petitions, and doctors had offered no hope; just narcotics.
When an answer came through much soul searching--one I did not want to hear--I very reluctantly obeyed. It was 2005 and as if my father shouted into my ear: "You are disabled," and that I needed to make a choice on healing.
Hard words to hear for a man who considered himself a "tough guy," created a shift from high production to placing my career on the back burner for an undetermined length of time. I did not realize then what further serious disabling of the spine was still going to take place in years to come.
So, what happened to Author James Michael Pratt for over one decade? Robert Frost offers this in summation from his acclaimed poem:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Perhaps I took Robert Frost's "Road Less Traveled" a bit too seriously, but then... I quit arguing with Dad 50 years ago.
At Backstory I detail with text and audio, why a choice to become a simple neighbor and silent writer--Jim, a guy next door--was made, and how the journey through pain, choices, and life experiences from 1971 to the present affects my writing to this day. In it, I hope to encourage fellow sufferers as I offer a transparent view into the personality one becomes over a lifetime of hills and valleys.
JAMES MICHAEL PRATT TODAY
I hope you may have enjoyed that audio piece found at the "Backstory" link. Reaching through the thin veil of memory, to places that those times alone possess, is cathartic and I hope it may be used to a listener's advantage in examining their own backstories.
I produced many works during those quiet years from 2005 to the present day. They are deeply heartfelt and now becoming delivered to you over the next several months and years with “Free Reads” and “Sneak Peeks” found in my private “Once Upon a Time BookClub." Immediately scheduled are a combined 12 books to be re-released or newly released for the first time over a 5-year period.
Healthy, eager, and grateful to have you here at my 2023 launched website, I am looking forward to publishing and making great book reading memories together with you over many coming years!
James Michael Pratt, aka “Jim”