Interview with non-fiction writer Jonathan Weeks

Today’s
guest loves baseball – including writing about it. Jonathan Weeks is here as just one stop
along a virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions
for his newest book, Mudville Madness.
As part of
his tour, Jonathan will be giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one randomly
chosen commenter. To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment below.  To
increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
his other tour stops
and leave comments there, too.
Bio:
Weeks spent
thirty-eight years in the Capital District region of New York State. He
obtained a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to
Malone, New York, and has continued to gripe about the frigid winter
temperatures ever since. A member of the Society for American Baseball
Research, he has authored two non-fiction books on the topic of baseball: Cellar Dwellers and Gallery of Rogues. His first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, (a baseball story set during the WWII era)
is being released in the summer of 2014. He writes about the game because he
lacked the skills to play it professionally. He still can’t hit a curveball or
lay off the high heat.
Check out his
“Cellar Dwellers” blog at: jonathanweeks.blogspot.com
Welcome, Jonathan. Please tell us
about your current release.
Mudville Madness spans three centuries of baseball
history and includes some of the most unusual events that have happened on the
field. Some of those events are dark and disturbing, such as the stadium
collapse in Philadelphia that killed twelve people in 1903 and the murder by
sniper fire that occurred before a New York Giants game in 1950. Other events
are more on the amusing side, like the story of Kitty Burke—a burlesque dancer
who became the first woman to log a plate appearance in the majors after she
wandered onto the field during a game in Cincinnati. Though some of the
material in Mudville Madness will be familiar
to hardcore fans, there’s a little something for everyone here.       
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve
published two other non-fiction books on the topic of baseball and, during the
course of my research, I acquired more interesting anecdotes than I knew what
to do with. Eventually, I came up with the idea of dedicating a volume entirely
to baseball’s odd occurrences. I started looking at boxscores around the age of
seven or eight and began to realize that every game has a story behind it, no
matter how great or small. There are so many fascinating stories worth sharing.
The people who have played the game are just as interesting as the sport
itself. In Mudville Madness, I have
tried to highlight the personalities and events that make baseball unique and
wonderful.     
Excerpt:
June
12, 1970
Dock Ellis was an occasionally
dominant presence on the mound, winning at least 15 games three times and
making one All-Star appearance during his 12-year career. During the 1970
campaign, he carved a small niche in baseball history when he tossed a
no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. It wasn’t pretty as he fell behind
hitters all evening, walking 8 and hitting one. But the performance became
quite remarkable fourteen years later when Ellis admitted to being under the
influence of LSD at the time.
A free spirit, Ellis allegedly
ingested the drug around noon believing he was not scheduled to start that day.
About an hour later, his girlfriend was perusing a newspaper when she
discovered that Ellis was listed as a probable starter for the first game of a
twi-night doubleheader against the Padres. She escorted the Pirates’ hurler,
who was now feeling the effects of a powerful hallucinogen known as “Purple
Haze,” to the airport, where he caught a flight to San Diego. 
Ellis remembered very little of the
game, which started at 6:05 pm. He described his mood as euphoric and reported
various hallucinations. “The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large
sometimes. Sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t,” he alleged. Years
later, he embellished the story even further, claiming that he saw Jimi Hendrix
and Richard Nixon at different points in the game. He said that Hendrix was
using his famous Stratocaster guitar as a bat and Nixon was the home plate
umpire.
Snopes.com—a website that prides itself on
debunking urban myths—posted the story’s status as “true” though from a guarded
perspective. Ellis’s behavior was normal enough not to arouse suspicion from
players or umpires. He was lucid during post-game interviews. But what would
his motivation be for making such a claim? It only served to tarnish the
crowning achievement of his career.
After his playing days were over,
Ellis sought help for his substance abuse. He later worked as a counselor to
help others combat drug problems. He died in 2008.
What exciting story are you working on
next?
I have
another nonfiction baseball project completed though I haven’t submitted it
yet. Since I don’t want to jinx my chances of publication (I’m a bit
superstitious), I prefer to keep specific details to myself. So far, 2014 has
been a big year for me. In addition to Mudville
Madness
, my first novel is being released. Entitled The Bridgeport Hammer, it’s a fantasy baseball memoir set in World
War II amidst a backdrop of Nazi espionage. I’m really proud of it. I’ll be
doing a virtual tour for that book in a couple of weeks. Right now, I’m working
on a young adult novel that combines supernatural elements with baseball.
Baseball is a common theme in all my books. I’ve always heard it said that you
should write what you know. In the future, I have plans for a historical novel
that takes place in the sixteenth century—long before the game of baseball was
invented. That will be a quantum leap for me.      
When did you first consider yourself a
writer?
When I was
in elementary school, I used to write and draw comic books to sell to my
classmates. Most of the material was derivative superhero stuff. I think I
charged five cents per issue. After that, I didn’t make another penny off of my
writing until I was in my mid-forties. You don’t have to make money to be a
writer (though it’s nice if you can make living off of it). I’ve tried my hand
at almost every form of writing over the years—short stories, novels, poetry.
I’ve even written dozens of songs on my guitar. I haven’t always shared my material
with others. I went through a long period in which I didn’t have the confidence
for that. I’ve always had a passion for writing though.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like?  If not, what do you
do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t
write full-time. I work as a counselor serving mentally ill adults. I really
enjoy helping people. In my spare time, I hang out with my two daughters a
lot—ages seven and eleven. They’re great kids. I try to write every day very
early in the morning. I’m usually up before 6 am. That’s when I get most of my
writing done. I roll out of bed and head straight for my computer without the
benefit of coffee. I’m not sure how I do it.   
 

Thanks, Jonathan!


One thought on “Interview with non-fiction writer Jonathan Weeks

  1. Jonathan Weeks says:

    I really enjoyed doing this interview and appreciate the opportunity! Just a reminder to readers–leaving a comment gives you a chance to win a free Amazon gift card. Why not give it a shot?

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