Brian, thanks for reaching out to CodBall and congratulations on nearing the publication date of Wildball. You started work on the young adult fiction novel in October 2014 - what inspired you to start writing it at the time?
I was inspired to write the story after going through a rough time in Hollywood. I interned at two film production companies for my last semester of BU, and I was verbally bullied by superiors at both workplaces. When I came back home to the Cape afterward, I needed to write about the experience in order to make sense of it and move forward. So I decided to tell a story about an athlete and his coach instead of an intern and his superior. It made things a little less raw for me but still allowed me to explore that dynamic between a naive student and a severe mentor.
You're from Falmouth, and I imagine you've been to many Commodores games. What was it like growing up on the Cape and being around the League?
Growing up here, I didn't appreciate what a special thing it was to have a Cape League team in my hometown. As a kid, it was more of a social thing to meet friends at a Commodores game, but I didn't follow the action. The last few summers I've been to a bunch of games, not only as book research but also because I'm a bigger baseball fan now. It's been cool to see my Falmouth circle and the Commodores family start to blend. Over the years some of my friends have interned for the team. And interns for the Commodores have gotten summer jobs at Coffee O, the cafe where I work.
Sarah Murphy's 2017 Wicked Local article mentions you volunteered with the league and Falmouth Community Television a few summers ago. What were your responsibilities, and how was that experience?
I volunteered at a playoff game in August of 2014. Commodores vs. Kettleers I think. FCTV had been contracted to broadcast some Cape League games that summer, and they knew I was interested in sports, so they asked for my help. I was set up at a computer where I changed numbers for the game's stat-tracker. I'd click on the first diamond when a runner made it to first, or I'd change the numbers for how many balls and strikes during the at-bats. It was a small role, but it was a way I could bring my skill-set into the world of the Cape League.
The only downside was it was a long game. Pretty sure it went into extras. The two guys we had working the cameras left as the night went on. I wanted to bail too, but my supervisor encouraged me to stick it out. I'm glad I did because that was the night I started getting ideas for my book.
You used Publishizer, a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding site for authors without publishers, to gain support for Wildball (then known as This River is Wild). You’re now collaborating with Black Rose Writing for publication this year. What has the process of working with them been like, and has it been different than your expectations?
So far I've discovered that a smaller publishing house means creative freedom. I don't know what it's like for writers at bigger houses, but Black Rose has been supportive of my vision. They've let me change the story without objecting and the cover art designer Dave King is supposed to be very collaborative. Reagan Rothe is the man in charge at Black Rose, and I got lucky that he has a love for baseball. His brother played in the Minors in Texas, and Reagan wrote a book called Dreams and Baseball before he switched over to publishing. I think that connection helped my book find a home.
It seems like you have a lot going on in your life - wrapping up the novel, tutoring students in writing, and working on your music. What are you most passionate about, and what do you think you will focus on in the future?
Unfortunately, I've had to put music on the back burner with the book taking off. I toured as a bassist for Milk last year which was a blast. Their record Horsetown Threshold just made a 2017 Best-of List on DigBoston. Tutoring is still a big part of my life, but I've had to start turning down gigs since the rollout for the book takes up a big chunk of time each week.
Right now I'm most passionate about writing. Wildball has been a 3+ year labor of love, so I want to put the same amount of energy into promoting it as I did when I was creating it. This year will involve local events on the Cape and if I play my cards right, a national book tour. Once that's through it'll be time to start the next book, which is a continuation of Wildball. Hopefully, people will be hungry for it.