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Local High Country Resident Kimberley Jochl Releases First Young Adult Novel ‘Hardly Easy’

Author Kimberley Jochl pictured with the cover of her latest book, “Hardly Easy.”

By Harley Nefe

Local High Country resident Kimberley Jochl released her latest book, “Hardly Easy,” to the public today. This is the third book she has written, with the inspiration drawing from her real life experiences.

Jochl is a current resident of Sugar Mountain and is the vice president at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort. From the age of 16 to 23, she was a member of the United States Alpine Ski Team. Jochl also earned her own pilot’s license in 2013. Her journey in becoming an author started when she decided to take flying lessons.

“I took flying lessons because I was fearful of flying, and one of the ways to get through my flying lessons and to continue on and go from one lesson to the next was writing down my experience of that previous flight lesson,” Jochl said.

After 11 months of flying lessons, she received her pilot’s license and had a book load of notes from her experiences that she would share with friends.

“Someone said, ‘Why don’t you write a book?’ And I said, ‘Well I don’t write. I’m not an author. I don’t really have any experience in that, and I’m certainly not educated in it,’ Jochl said. “But I got enough people encouraging me, so I took what eventually seemed to be chapters, and I sat down, and I spent several months putting a book together.”

This book Jochl wrote ended up being long as she included information about her childhood, and it became a biography. She ended up submitting it to an editor, and the one long book eventually turned into two books. 

“The Aviatrix: Fly Like a Girl” shares Jochl’s experiences of learning how to fly. Her second book, “Fly Baby: The Story of an American Girl” is Jochl’s biography of growing up as a little girl and as a twin and being on the US Ski Team and moving to Sugar Mountain.

After Jochl published those two books, she said she thought she was done with writing. In the meantime, she became a lot more involved with aviation through the Ninety-Nines, which is a women’s aviation club that was started by Amelia Earhart, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).

One Ninety-Nines event Jochl participated in was the Girl Scout Fun Patch Day at the Tri-Cities Airport, where they invited Girl Scouts in the local region to learn about aviation.

“I gave my book ‘The Aviatrix’ to all of the participants, and once I did that, I thought, ‘This book doesn’t really appeal specifically to young girls, and the title doesn’t appeal to young boys,’” Jochl said. “So, as I was driving home one day from flying, I thought about how I never had the opportunity to read a book as a young girl about flying, and I really would like to write something that speaks to the audience of young kids, boys and girls. So, that’s where the idea to write ‘Hardly Easy’ came up.”

She further said, “If there is another event we host like that where we are inviting kids to learn about aviation, I would like to give them a book like ‘Hardly Easy.’ I will donate as many books as I need to to that program so these kids will at least have a book in front of them that they can read about becoming a pilot or that anything within aviation is possible.”

“Hardly Easy” is Jochl’s first young adult fiction piece. The other books were nonfiction narratives.

“When I finished my first two books, I really realized how much I like writing. It’s therapeutic; it’s a nice outlet from day to day; it was a nice distraction,” Jochl said. “When I finished ‘Fly Baby’ and all the hype was done with that, I really feel like there was a void, and there was no more biography to write about myself.”

Jochl further said, “I think when authors start out, the easiest thing to do is to write a biography because everything is in your head. You don’t have to do any research other than researching your past. I thought, ‘Well, I want to challenge myself a little bit,’’ and the idea to write a book that speaks to young adults — the only thing I could really write is a novel, and so I thought that would be fun.”

It took two years and three editors for Jochl to finish writing “Hardly Easy.” 

Jochl said she found writing both nonfiction and fiction to be stimulating. However, she found the fiction writing to be harder because she had to do a lot more research. She had to educate herself about what she wanted to write about.

“Writing fiction is much harder. I had to work harder; I had to try harder, and I had to reach out and do a lot more research, and it’s more of a challenge, and it’s scarier too because you put a story out there,” Jochl said. “When you write about yourself, you can back it up, everything is factual; everything is true. If anyone wants to question you on it, the answers come from within. With “Hardly Easy,” I don’t know what kind of reaction there will be.”

“Hardly Easy” is a young adult novel that follows 16-year-old Charlotte “Charlie” Henson and her journey taking flying lessons to receive her pilot’s license. 

Jochl said the inspiration for the story came from a lot of her own experiences growing up. 

“Charlie is the opposite of the pilot than I am, so I really gravitated toward creating a character that I maybe wish I would have been,” Jochl said. “I was a very apprehensive, scared pilot. Charlie has absolutely no fear.”

She further said a lot of the different subplots are based on her life experiences, other people, watching TV and movies.

“Another reason I wrote the book is I felt that it is, in a way, easy to become a pilot as a young person because there are so many scholarships out there, and kids don’t know about it,” Jochl said.

There are aviation classes in certain high schools, and Jochl said that she hopes to promote the AOPA high school aviation curriculum in “Hardly Easy” so that other schools like Watauga High or Avery High or some in the foothills of Tennessee in Johnson City would become familiar with it.

“When you are familiar with the aviation community, you know that curriculum is out there. It’s just not well known to the general population. Pilots are a tight-knit group of people. There are very few pilots in the world, so a lot of people are involved in aviation from the inside out,” Jochl said. “I was inspired to write this book to bring general aviation to the forefront within the general public to take it out of its niche just within the aviation community.”

Jochl self published her book “Hardly Easy” and when reflecting on the process, she said it’s a lot of work.

“I’m basically the author, agent, the publisher, promotor and the marketer,” Jochl said. “But, thank goodness for self publishing. It gives authors like me the opportunity to put our books out there.”

To help make the book happen, Jochl worked with Betsy Thorpe, Maya Myers and Katherine Bartis, who are her editors.

“Editors are critical,” Jochl said. “They do so many things like finding misspelled words, encouraging depth in the characters, tightening the subplot or elongating the subplot because something is missing. The core of the story is in my head and all of the details are in my head, but when an editor comes along with fresh eyes, for me they do a lot of things. My editors were extremely encouraging. They are so valuable.”

Copies of “Hardly Easy” are available at local retailers across the High Country including:

  • Fred’s General Mercantile in Beech Mountain
  • Tri-City Aviation Inc. at the Tri-Cities Airport in east Tennessee
  • Grandfather Mountain 
  • Mast General Store

It will also be available for purchase online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. For more information, visit the author’s website at http://www.kimberleyjochl.com/hardly-easy/.

Read High Country Press’s review on “Hardly Easy” here: https://www.hcpress.com/news/book-review-hardly-easy-takes-readers-on-an-adventure-full-of-twists-and-turns-that-teach-the-power-of-passion-by-using-authors-own-experiences-as-inspiration.html