If you’re seeking baseball books for young adults, then you will want to read this interview with author Steven A. Falco. Steven pubished a young adult baseball novel entitled Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run. This is his second book, and he is working on another book to be published next year.
Here is the book blurb:
TJ and Jonathan are teen-age friends and teammates on the JV baseball team. Like many young people growing up in America in the late sixties, they have heroes. For TJ, who is white, it is Mickey Mantle, the aging star of the New York Yankees. For Jonathan, who is black, it is Martin Luther King Jr., the leader of the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, 1968 is a bad year for heroes and—America. Their friendship is strained to the breaking point when Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated.
Jonathan, who is devastated by the murder, blames all white people, TJ included. TJ then has to struggle through the challenges of the JV baseball season in his racially-torn town, without the support of his friend. Is there anything that can repair their broken bond? Would it take still another American tragedy?
Combining the heartbreak and hilarity of teen-age life in that tumultuous year, this baseball book for young adults provides a perspective from which to understand the racial issues that still prevail. It appeals not only to young readers but also their baby-boomer parents and grandparents.
What is your favorite part of writing?
My favorite is the creative part. I love it when my fingers fly over the keyboard and the words and ideas just flow out. It can be exciting and at times exhausting. I write very fast and I get a kick out of seeing how many spelling errors and grammatical mistakes I make by the time I’m done with a particularly engrossing writing session. I love to see how many red and green underlines I get when I’m done.
What is the least favorite part of writing?
No question it is editing. I refer you back to all the red and green underlines. There is no question that I like the creative part of writing the most. But writing is also a craft and good writing no matter how creative must be clear and readable. So I go back and tediously address all my misspellings and grammatical errors as best I can.
Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do bulk editing. How about you?
Definitely bulk editing for me. I do not want anything to interfere with my creative process which as I have said is my favorite part of writing. This style of course has a downside. I must have edited and rewritten my latest book a dozen times only to have my publisher recommend that I have my book professionally edited. And that turned out to be great advice. After editing my novel, my editer gave me two copies; the edited version with all the corrections indicated, and a clean copy. I took one glance at the edited copy and was demoralized by all the corrections. It made me feel like I was a terrible writer. But then I read the clean copy with all the corrections and I thought “wow, these are my characters and my story but do I really write this well?”
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
My novel takes place in the 1960s and specifically 1968. So I did a great deal of reading about that year. Since I also lived through that tumultuous year, I have quite a bit of knowledge. (Yes, I am that old.) But I really like doing research. I love studying history, spending time in libraries, watching old movies and going to museums.
What inspired your latest release?
I was inspired by a strong friendship I had back as a teenager and how the events of 1968 caused a strain in that relationship. The friendship was with an African American classmate back during a time when race relations in our country were particularly bad. I was also inspired by the moral commitment to social justice exemplified by the lives of Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Bobby Kennedy, and their tragic assassinations play an important part of my narrative. Of course the main character in the book is inspired by his boyhood hero Mickey Mantle who at that time was at the end of his career. It was Mickey Mantle’s last home run, when combined with the heartbreaking events of 1968, that symbolize the loss of innocence of the main character.
How much of you is in the books your write?
It is often said that you should write about what you know. Having played and watched baseball all my life I have followed that aphorism. In my first book Grandpa Gordy’s Greatest World Series Games, I play the part of a grandpa (which I am not yet) and in Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run, I’m a teenager (I’m long past those days). In both books my love of baseball shines through.
What is your latest book?
My latest book is Mickey Mantle’s Last Home Run which was published in December 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of the events in the book.
What else have you written?
I have written several short stories, one novella and a play. All of which have not been published. My other published book is for middle grade readers entitled Grandpa Gordy’s Greatest World Series Games. I have finished another manuscript that I hope to publish next year which is also about baseball. And I have an unfinished short story which is (brace yourself) about a dog, not baseball.
Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
I like to think of myself as having other careers while being a writer. I worked for many years in the social services field, spent time working for a labor union and now I do volunteer environmental work.
What’s your favorite film of all time?
Unquestionably it has to be Casablanca. It is a masterpiece. But just to show I’m not buried in the past I want to give honorable mention to this year’s Oscar winner Green Book. That was a well-made and inspiring movie. Favorite book? My favorite book is The Grapes of Wrath. If I could do it all over again I’d go back to college and do my master’s thesis on John Steinbeck. I would like to mention my second favorite book and pay my respects to Catcher in the Rye. And to once again show that I not stuck in the past a recent novel entitled All the Light We Cannot See, I feel is brilliant.
For more information about Steven A. Falco visit his website.
Stacy Juba wrote her first young adult novel, Face-Off, when she was 16 years old because she couldn’t find any fiction books to read about ice hockey. It was published during her freshman year in college, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She published the sequel, Offsides, 26 years later and was excited to continue the story of rival twin brothers Brad and T.J. McKendrick. Stacy is also the author of acclaimed mystery novels and the humorous Storybook Valley chick lit novels for adults, as well as The Flag Keeper picture book about the U.S. Flag Code. You can learn about her full catalog of books on www.stacyjuba.com. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel, Writer Tips & Book Chats With Stacy Juba.
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