Q&A: Author Asks What Might Have Happened to the 'Lost Dutchman'

Phoenix resident Pat Parish spent a decade researching, writing and illustrating Dutchman and the Devil: The Lost Story, a fictional tale about what might have happened to the legendary "Lost Dutchman," Jacob Waltz — a German prospector who allegedly found a mother lode of gold in the Superstition Mountains but died before revealing its location. Starting in a German bar, Parish takes the reader on a journey to America and across the nation on a hunt for gold through the eyes of Waltz and the story's imagined antagonist, Jake Weiser. Along the way, she explores the possible fate of the Dutchman and his supposed treasure.

We caught up with Parish to ask her a few questions about her novel, which is available on Amazon.com.

What made you start writing?
I was in illustration school, and I was given the assignment to illustrate a book, and I looked at the existing books, and I was just daunted. Most had been done by master illustrators, and I thought, "Boy, I can’t do this; I can’t compete with this," so I said that to my instructor, and he said, "Well, I guess you’ll have to write your own book." I said OK, and that’s how it started. And that was 10 years ago.

Why did you choose the Lost Dutchman legend as your story’s focus?
It’s the second-best-known thing about Arizona, second only to the Grand Canyon, and the literature that I was able to come up with just didn’t sit with what I thought might have happened.

Throughout the book, the Jake Weiser character was hated and almost portrayed as evil. How did you decide what personalities the characters would take on?
It just seemed like the thing to do. A book needs a bit of drama, and nobody knows, really. This man really did exist and he really did disappear, and I think there is quite a good chance that he might have killed Waltz and taken his identity. I think that’s possible. I’m not saying it happened, but it could have.

Another character, Julia, figures prominently in the story, and you mix your ideas with historically documented people. Was Julia one of those?
Absolutely. She had a bakery in Phoenix. The Dutchman, Jacob Waltz, had a chicken farm, so to speak, and it was in Phoenix near where the Phoenix airport is now. He sold eggs to Julia’s bakery, and that’s how they became acquainted.

— Kirsten Kraklio

Add new comment