FQ: I know you were a physics teacher, which is (to me) a great leap from writing fiction. I must know: What made you make that leap? Were you always interested in writing?
PILCHER: I have been interested in science fiction as well as real science since my teen-age years, and have especially enjoyed Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and more recently Andy Weir's The Martian, which I found VERY realistic of the real Mars as learned in the past few years from space probes. More recently I have delved into fantasy. Since my teen-age years I have also liked to write. The idea flashed into my mind of a beautiful princess who, in order to save her people from the ravages of an evil sorcerer, must identify her handsome prince incognito in the crowd on her very first try. Over several years I expanded the story one sentence or one paragraph at a time.
FQ: I began with The Queen of Xana and just fell in love with the realm and your characters. Is Xana set on any real location in particular? How did that place first come into your mind?
PILCHER: The land of Xana is in the warm tropics on the seacoast, probably somewhere in Asia, but with no specific location. I wanted a mild climate and sea trading as important features of my setting.
FQ: I got a kick out of reading of teen Agatha’s disdain for her royal “friends.” They were so shallow and devoid of feeling for others. Do you see this as an issue with many of today’s real world teens?
PILCHER: In our world there are both selfish people and compassionate people of all ages. I wish to picture Agatha as being as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and to give her personal qualities of great virtue, qualities an enlightened ruler (of which there are very few in our real world) should possess.
FQ: I think a lot of countries would benefit from a ruler like Agatha. Do you think there’s hope for the real world when our leaders are so far removed from rulers like Agatha?
PILCHER: There is always hope that countries in the real world will have enlightened rulers. We should never give up this hope and our striving to achieve it. I have tried to present Agatha as a worthy example for the world's rulers, especially female rulers. My personal fantasy is for female rulers in our real world to claim they are as enlightened as Agatha, even while in most cases they are not.
FQ: How many of the “Xana” titles do you plan to do?
PILCHER: I will not write a second book about Agatha and the land of Xana. I will maintain a website, agathathebeloved.wixsite.com/pilcher, where I can present additional very short stories related to the novel, and where readers can exchange with me and with each other their opinions of the social, educational, and political philosophy of Agatha.
FQ: Do you have a specific mentor or, perhaps, an author you admire that you would love to meet one day? If so, what is the one question you would love to ask that person?
PILCHER: I do not have any one author who meets the qualifications above. The one question I would like to ask any great author of fantasy or science fiction is his or her opinions of the strengths and weaknesses of Agatha the Beloved Queen, and what changes the author might have made to improve the story within its overall setting.
FQ: I noted with your books that you are truly invigorated and pleased to introduce strong women in stories. Which, by the way, is refreshing. Have you had strong, courageous women while growing up that your characters share traits with?
PILCHER: An admiration of strong and virtuous women seems to be built into my character. When I was very young, I saw the movie Joan of Arc, starring Ingrid Bergman. I was, you might say, overawed with the movie portrayal of her character. I admire strong and virtuous women in many science fiction and fantasy stories I have read in recent years, but there is no single real life person who fills this role.
FQ: Is there a specific genre you love that you wish to perhaps dive into some day?
PILCHER: No, I will continue to read a wide variety of both fiction and nonfiction.
FQ: What is up next? Can you give your fans a sneak peek into what you’re working on now?
PILCHER: I invite my fans to go to my website, agathathebeloved.wixsite.com/pilcher, where they can discuss the themes presented in the novel of building an ideal society and read additional very short stories about Agatha and her companions.