J.N. PratleyAbout The Author

I earned my bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College and my doctorate in cell biology at the University of Texas. I’ve attended the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts in Paros, the Aegean Arts Circle in Andros, and several workshops in Europe and America.

I have four novels, Leto’s Journey, The Green Helix, A Mania Of Love, and A Not Too Gay Life.

I have four published short stories; “Arboretum Again” (Jet Fuel Review, Fall 2013), “Mayaritsa (Amarillo Bay, May 2014), “Figs” (Green Briar Review, Fall 2016), and “Toula’s Bullets” (Glint, Winter 2017).

Music and science are my two loves in life: I’ve played piano and organ in recitals and worked in research labs around the country and in Europe.

Education: BA – Oberlin College (liberal arts)
PhD – University of Texas (cell biology)
Resident: Aegean Arts Circle – Andros, Greece
Aegean Center for the Fine Arts – Paros, Greece
Service: Officer – School of Aviation Medicine, Air University
Hobbies: Classical piano, tennis, bridge, travels to Greece, Platonic philosophy

Why People Write Fiction

There’s no simple answer. Circumstances, serendipity, age, sex life, psychosis, alcoholism, neurotransmitters. Who knows?

I can answer for myself only. I should be the most unlikely person to write fiction. My life has been spent in the laboratory (and to a lesser extent, at the keyboards of pianos and pipe organs). I’ve led a rather boring, disciplined life analyzing data and wrestling music scores. In all those efforts I’ve busted my brain being analytical, and I’ve suppressed emotional involvements. And that’s anathema to writing good fiction.

But, in later life, tired of scientific “laws” and musical notations, I wanted to free myself of those restraints. Why did I choose fiction writing? Perhaps I wanted to “invent” data, perhaps I was inspired by the good writers I had read in my lifetime. The gods know.

More than likely it was a subconscious urge to dramatize philosophical concepts. My science PhD, which had nothing whatsoever to do with philosophy, was a hindrance, but Plato, who had always been my hero (more so than Darwin or current Nobelers), and his concept of mania had always intrigued me. It refers to the mysterious mental state required to be creative, fall in love, experience “highs,” etc.

Two of my published novels, Leto’s Journey, The Green Helix, and a third to be published, A Mania of Love, are constructed with that underlying  philosophy expressed by Plato in his famous dialogue, The Phaedrus. The characters are mostly academics trying to free themselves from the bonds of their disciplines, aided and abetted by Greek mania.

The three books were written after an early retirement from my university and my first trips to the Greek isles. They are not crazy, maniacal stories devoid of what we think reality is, but are—I’d like to think—whimsical, yet profound portrayals. Passion and pathos…that’s what I strive for.

They echo, I hope, the themes of Henry Miller, Nikos Kazantzakis, Lawrence Durrell, and most recently, Christian Brechneff. I hope, too, that readers will not be bored by another paean to the fantastic and irresistible beauties of the Greek islands.