Baseball and crime writing? Trust me, I’m not coming out of left field with this blog post.
Spring training has started and as a Red Sox fan I’m pretty excited about my team’s prospects. The Sox have a new manager and some great players. The new season is like starting to write a new book. It’s a time of optimism and fresh ideas. “Batter up” I think to myself every time I sit down to write.
As a writer of crime and thriller novels, I can’t help but see the parallels between a good crime novel and a baseball game. Can the phrases “stealing a base” and ‘stealing signs” merely be coincidences? How about Curt Schilling’s bloody sock in the 2004 Series? Or Dwight Evans memorable catch in the 1975 World Series, stealing a home run off Joe Morgan and winning game six? Love it when a new pitcher “comes out of the pen.” There’s even a “three strikes” law that puts criminals away for life. And let’s not forget that the dreaded Yankees wear pinstripes (Boooooo!).
Writing a novel is a lot like a baseball game in many respects. Both have set parameters. My novels tend to run between 100 and 120 thousand words. A baseball game is nine innings and has no set time, although there’s extra innings if the game is tied in the ninth. In both, it’s crucial to get off to a good start. In both, it’s important to keep the pressure on in the middle, whether that be a compelling subplot or putting in a competent middle reliever or pinch runner. Then you have to finish strong. In baseball that means clutch hitting and solid defense combined with a shutdown closer. The crime novelist, as well, needs to round all the bases and write a killer ending that provides closure for the reader. Sometimes the ballgame goes into extra innings, just as sometimes the author needs to add more scenes to adequately wrap everything up for the reader’s benefit.
The goal for us writers when we start a novel is to “hit it out of the park.” Is it any wonder why baseball and literature are so tightly entwined? Or why the Red Sox are so near and to many writers hearts? Robert Parker’s Spenser was a big Red Sox fan. Authors past and present loved the Sox including Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Updike and Steven King. In fact, King wrote a novel called The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It’s about a girl who gets lost in the woods and survives by thinking about her favorite Red Sox pitcher.
Fenway Park is an iconic landmark and shown in many Hollywood dramas. I even used it as a setting in one of my earlier horror novels, when I was writing in that genre. My favorite scene in the movie The Town, based on Chuck Hogan’s crime novel, Prince of Thieves, takes place in Fenway Park. Ben Affleck’s character and his gang pull off the heist of a lifetime when they sneak into Fenway Park dressed as Boston cops, and manage to make their way into the cash room, stealing millions.
A new year for the Red Sox brings with it much optimism and hope for a winning season. Just as the Sox hope to have a great year—and crush the dreaded Yankees—so are all of us crime writers. As the Sox open the season in April, I too will step up to the plate with my new thriller, THE NEIGHBOR (coming April 24). Hope you can check it out and let me know if I hit out of the park with this one. Here’s the link to check it out. https://www.amazon.com/Neighbor-Joseph-Souza-ebook/dp/B074DGFKS8/ref=la_B0083J9IZ8_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1518998292&sr=1-2
Now Play Ball!