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Creative Pagosa: Jean Kilczer

PREVIEW photo/Melissa Stedman Author Jean Kilczer is one of Pagosa’s MAKERS. She holds her latest book, “Spears of the Sun,” the third in her “Sojourner to the Stars” series.

PREVIEW photo/Melissa Stedman
Author Jean Kilczer is one of Pagosa’s MAKERS. She holds her latest book, “Spears of the Sun,” the third in her “Sojourner to the Stars” series.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is building a web-based directory of all the creative people and businesses in the community. By creating this website, it will make these MAKERS easier to find in online search engines and help share the wealth of innovative and talented individuals that call our small town home.

This sort of database is called “cultural mapping” and is being done by communities around the country in order to realize and recognize the value of their creative assets.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is establishing the groundwork for continued collaboration and cooperation and promotional efforts of the combined community. The goal of the project is to establish a solid foundation of cultural and creative individuals and businesses, to create a viable plan for promoting these assets and to promote the Pagosa area as a worthy place of residence for creative people, a productive place for creative business ventures and a desirable destination for arts tourism.

At present, the PACP is also planning an event for fall 2013. The event, the MAKERS Expo and Tour, is set for Oct. 12-13.

To register and be listed in the database, go to http://pagosaacp.org/Register.html.

In order to highlight the MAKERS in Pagosa, the PACP will profile its members, giving readers of The PREVIEW a sense of the depth and breadth of the creative community.

This week’s MAKER is Jean Kilczer.

Q: Tell us a little about who you are, where you were born, educated, your family, growing up and how you came to be doing your creative work?

JK: My daughter, Sue, swears that while I was carrying her, way back when in New York where I was born, and sat down one night and wrote my first story, a short titled “The Alien,” that she had influenced me to write it. Well, she couldn’t have been any closer, and she is a professional artist now. Be that as it may, the story came out of unseen fluff that I spun and weaved into a tapestry. And when I was finished, I thought, “Gee, this isn’t half bad. And it was fun! Think I’ll write another.” And so, my checkered career was launched. I grew up on a very small ranch in what is now called the Inland Empire. My Dad grew a variety of fruits and vegetables and we were surrounded by citrus trees. My brothers and I would create our little fortresses under the canopy of those trees. Fairies, warriors, hobos, (for real, we lived a quarter mile from the rail track) and other fantastical creatures lived there. It was the beginning of my fantasy world that has never left me.

Q: Describe the objects you make or the creative work you do.

JK: Except for a short diversion into fantasy, a children’s trilogy titled “Snowflake’s World,” I generally write science fiction adventure stories with a bit of a philosophical bent, a nod to environmental issues, and a dose of humor. I’ve peopled my “Sojourner to the Stars” series with intriguing humans and aliens and a main character, astrobiologist Jules Rammis, a telepath, who is the typical brash, reluctant hero thrown into the melee. Jules’ instincts are good and he’s a likeable guy, but his smart mouth keeps him in trouble on his wild rides from book one “The Loranth,” to book two “Halcyon Nights,” and book three, fresh off the press —  “Spears of the Sun.” Jules’ adventures continue in book four, my current work, which is as yet unnamed, though a friend on “Meet the Authors” suggested, “It Was a Dark and Stormy Galaxy.” I dunno.

Here’s the opening:

“I watched stars streak by through the viewport as our small ship plunged out of control toward the deadly radiation zones of the inner galaxy. The Instrument panel sparked. Burned wires dangled as Sojourner made erratic jumps.

“‘Chancey!’ I yelled into my BioSuit mic as I tried to loosen a strut that held the airlock’s damaged outer door shut. ‘The damn thing’s jammed!’

“‘Give me sixty seconds, Jules,’ he said evenly. Chancey doesn’t get shaken. He burned through a tie-down on the lifeboat and snapped the clamp open. I continued to tug on the strut as he kicked off and floated toward me. His muscular body stretched the form-fitting suit around his biceps and chest as he grabbed handholds and pulled himself along in zero gravity. His black, sculpted features were grim in the airlock’s flashing warning lights.

“‘Mayday. Mayday. Mayday!’ Joe Hatch called in his gravelly voice through his mic and held down the transmit button on the Star Positioning System unit. ‘This is the starship SL-5 Sojourner. Our ship is damaged and making unprogrammed jumps. Four adults onboard. Calling anyone. Request assistance. We are launching the lifeboat.’”

Yeah, it’s a slow opening, but it picks up after that.

Q: Do you have a regular routine or schedule?

JK: I’m usually awake and at the computer before my muse is out of her flower bed. I write about eight hours a day and, for breaks, I visit my crazy friends on Amazon’s “Meet Our Authors.” We just took off on another star journey in the SS Fifth Flight. Would you believe there are dragons and penguins onboard? What a racket. And the fiery breath coming through the air vents! They’re a great bunch of science fiction and fantasy writers, but I’m afraid that someday, they will come for us and put us all away. Of course, they have to catch the ship first, and we have warp drive.

Q: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

JK: “The Bird of Time has but a little way to fly — and Lo, the Bird is on the wing.”

Q: When you’re not making art, what is your favorite thing to do in Pagosa Country?

JK: Drive through the raw, humbling shoulders of the majestic San Juan Mountains with my two huskies, who don’t feel humbled at all.

Q: What are your goals for the coming year?

JK: To pay off the computer I just bought, after my old one crashed with a resounding death rattle. And to finish the book I just started.

Q: What is your dream project?

JK: Being in Los Angeles to watch George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg making “Spears of the Sun” into a film. And telling them to make sure they stick to my original story!

This story was posted on August 29, 2013.