Interview With Author John Hoda
Today’s author interview is with John Hoda, who wrote Phantasy Baseball, a story in which Joe’s picture-perfect marriage is crumbling, wrecked by his only child’s drug and alcohol abuse. His last days as a little league coach ends with a surprise at the sports banquet. Little does Joe realize the real impact of winning the grand prize. In a world where second chances are few and precious, follow Joe’s remarkable journey for a baseball season like no other.
John Hoda, locker room
John, what inspired you to start writing?
Throughout my life, when I would finish telling a story, people would oft remark, “you outta write a book about that.” I had this Baseball story kicking around in my head for years. I am a fairly good story-teller with award-winning business writing skills. I was not afraid to tackle major projects like running a marathon or playing semi-pro football at age 46. And I am an entrepreneur and have launched four businesses. I wasn’t afraid to write this novel.
How did you get the idea for the novel?
Before I would drift off to sleep some nights, I day-dreamed about a little league coach with an un-hit-able knuckle ball. He somehow made it to the big-leagues, but I couldn’t figure out how. Then one day, I went to a game and saw an advertisement for Phantasy Baseball Camp in the program. Anyone over thirty years old could fly to Florida in January and play baseball with their heroes of yesteryear. That is when it the pieces all fit together. Six weeks later I was starting the prologue.
How would you describe your book to someone who has not yet read it?
It’s a feel-good book about making the best of your second chances. A little league coach finds out that he has a magical pitch when he attends Phantasy Baseball Camp where he strikes out former major leaguers. Through luck and circumstance, he gets a once in a lifetime chance to pitch for his beloved Philadelphia Phillies.
Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
Babe Ruth said it best: “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” What’s more: Pro Athletes can make great philanthropists by leveraging their network and acting as a change catalyst. Alcoholics Anonymous is still as relevant and successful in helping people overcome addictions as when they first started. Baseball is a game and Major League Baseball is a business, do not confuse the two, but both can be played with joy.
Are your characters based on real people?
Composites of people and ballplayers that I have observed all my life. I am a former police officer and insurance fraud investigator. I am presently a private investigator and missing heir researcher. I am an expert at interviewing people. I have hundreds of great stories from the cases that I have worked on.
Who is your favorite character and why?
Stew Menke, The sports writer. Boy can he write!
Are your plots based on your real-life experiences?
Absolutely! Except I don’t know any pitcher dead or alive to throw a no-seam knuckle ball.
Give us an excerpted quote from your favorite review of this book:
FEEL-GOOD PAGE-TURNER. LOVED IT!
If Oprah invited you onto her show to talk about your book, what would the theme of the show be?Second Chances. It would feature people that took a chance and succeeded against steep odds.
How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?
It tells the story of a magical baseball season much in the way ROCKY is the story of a fighter who gets a fluke chance to fight for the Heavyweight Championship and a second chance to get his respect back.
Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favorite part of the process? What’s your least favorite?
I start thinking about my next scenes on Thursday and Friday. I like to write on Saturdays and Sundays. When I edit on Mondays and Tuesday, I get to re-read what I just wrote and when I have a scene that gives me goose bumps on the re-read, I know I have a scene that sizzles. That’ the best. The least favorite is the marketing and promoting; that’s when it becomes a part-time business that I have to make time for.
What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I covered most of a fictitious baseball season and sum up in a compelling narrative, I created a sports writer that was a compilation of all the great Philly sports writers that I grew up reading. His columns impart information and advance the story on an emotional level almost as well as dialogue.
John Hoda and his son
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book?
Sure. I was afraid that the baseball purists would say that I didn’t understand the game. I could have written it with a more wider audience in mind.
What genre have you not yet written but really want to try?
Funny you should ask, the one I am working on now is a suspense novel and I am planning a creative non-fiction to follow.
If your book would be made into a movie, who should play the main character?
Casey Affleck. Also, I wonder if he is left-handed.
How did you get published? Please share your own personal journey.
I wrote the words “The End” for Phantasy Baseball on September 21, 2012. After my beta-readers and critique group told me that the rough draft wasn’t crap, I had to decide to go either traditional or self-pub. I had been reading The Newbies Guide to Getting Published a blog collection by J.A. Konrath and my decision was really a no-brainer.
I knew a great artist, who would do my cover, found the content editor and secured a copy editor as well. I spent some real money on getting the cover right and polishing the manuscript until it gleamed. I lined up E-Book Architects for the formatting and Bookbaby for the aggregating. Then I secured a formatter and CreateSpace did the soft-cover. While the final edits and formatting/aggregating was taking place in the beginning of the year, I began creating my author’s platform with 111Publishing. Phantasy Baseball was then available as an e-Book in early February and in print through Amazon and CreateSpace by the end of the month. I had my official book launch on March 23, 2013 as planned, a week before opening day of the baseball season.
What general advice do you have for other writers?
Write the best damn book you can. Don’t be cheap on the cover or on the editing. Realize that you have to promote and market your book if you want your readers to find it, otherwise you will have have an expensive coaster on your coffee table.
What do you find is the best part of being an author?
One night at 8 pm, I brewed a cup of caffeine stimulant and let it cool while I started writing. I reached for the cup and it was cold. Strange, I thought. Then I looked at my watch, it was 1am. Five hours went by in a blink of an eye.
What is ONE thing that you have done that brought you more readers?
WORKING WITH YOU, OF COURSE!
What’s one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?
I tried out and won a roster spot on a semi-pro football team as a 46 year-old punter and place kicker.
John, thanks a lot for taking the time for this interview. And where can people learn more about your writing and can get your novel Phantasy Baseball?
Phantasy Baseball book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqnmR9YvzCM
- Ok, Its not Paris, but it is French, sort of, kind of, maybe
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