Charles Fritch

Mohawk Valley connection:
Former Utica resident

Claim to fame:
Science fiction writer

Did you know?
One of his stories was used as the basis for a "Twilight Zone" episode.

“Writing is built-in, somehow. You are either going to be a writer or you’re not, you just have to do it."

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Science-fiction writer nostalgic about Utica
Originally published in 2000

By Mary-Frances Manno
The Observer-Dispatch

After writing short stories for more than 50 years, former Utica resident Charles Fritch found a way to weave his hometown roots into his work.

Not only did Fritch mention Utica in an upcoming novel, but he proudly displayed a Utica T-shirt at a recent book signing of California Sorcery — a collection of short stories which features, “Different,” a story he wrote about a guy who lives in an alternate universe.

“It’s a nostalgia thing,” Fritch — who now lives in Southern California — said about his East Coast heritage. “I’m very nostalgic about the old hometown. I like to come back and look for artifacts, buy them, wear them, etc.”

A 1950 graduate of Utica College, with a bachelor of arts degree in English, Fritch decided to move to California to pursue a career in writing.

“There wasn’t much opportunity for what I wanted to do with writing, reading and publishing in the area,” he said.

Over the years, Fritch has remained true to his word.

In 1979, he was named editor of Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, which ran for eight years. In addition, he has been featured in a number of publications.
“I have done mostly short stories, I’m good at it. They always sell,” he said.

Even though Fritch is well-established in the industry, it was a long haul getting there, one that started at age 10.

“I had a little notebook and I was writing and writing and writing and showing people who would listen,” he said.

Drawn to the world of science fiction, a majority of Fritch’s work reflected this genre.

“I was reading it all the time and liked it, so it was only natural that I would start writing it,” he said.

His unique style is what drew readers from the get-go.

“The thing I was doing was different, really weird types of characters and backgrounds different from the typical space stuff,” he said.

One of his short stories, “Misfortune Cookie,” had the opportunity to cross over to another dimension.

It first was picked up for an anthology book and after CBS saw it, they bought the story and it was made into a “Twilight Zone” episode.

“It was wonderful seeing my name on screen,” he said.

Fritch firmly believes people are born writers.

“Writing is built-in, somehow. You are either going to be a writer or you’re not, you just have to do it. It is strange,” he said.

Even though writing is hard work, it has been very rewarding.

“I enjoy doing it. Manipulating words fascinates me,” he said.

Fritch currently is working for the State of California, but makes a point to get back to Utica annually.

“I love that area. It’s marvelous. If I ever retire, I will probably move back,” Fritch said.

Until then, he is busy working and writing.

“It is a good feeling knowing something I did will last beyond me.”

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