With apologies to Dorothy and her gang for the title, those literary characters (yes, they were in a book before the movie, folks) got me thinking about others and that led right into Philly native Allen Schatz, author of a series of books with a BIG local connection.
You might remember we first mentioned Allen and his book launch back in February and then again in June when he added a print version. Well, we caught up to Allen to find out what’s been going on. Turns out, there’s a lot. PhoulBallz had a quick chat with him to get the 411.
PhoulBallz: OK, so last we checked, you had a book out, Game 7: Dead Ball. What’s all this I’m hearing about an entire series?
Allen Schatz: You are hearing correctly. I’ve published two more titles to create The Marshall Connors Series. The new books are 7th Inning Death and Rally Killer. As you know, you can’t really rest in any business, especially writing, and especially Indie writing. It’s been said anyone can write a book. The true test is whether you can write more than one. It was always my intention to make this my living and not just a one time thing. No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.
PB: Very true. So, speaking of hits, why baseball as the setting for these stories?
AS: I love the game. It’s really the first sport I can remember as a kid. There was just something about it. I can remember watching Phillies games on Sunday afternoons on my parents’ old black and white TV (not sure how many of your readers will remember that such a thing existed). I fell in love early. That it was the Phillies only made it better, despite their general awfulness for much of my youth (and beyond). Using the game as my writing canvas and including local tie-ins was never really in question.
PB: What is some of the local flavor you’ve incorporated? Will readers recognize it?
AS: Oh, it’s not hard to see. The first book takes place during what might be the greatest event of many of your readers’ lives, the 2008 World Series. My version slightly differs for reasons related to the plot, but I actually started and completed most of the story BEFORE the Series. I got a bonus that the real life Phillies and Rays hooked up to match my fictional setting.
Readers will find many Philly area landmarks in the stories. For example, Marshall Connors, the lead character (he’s an umpire in the bigs) grew up in Springfield, Delco and lives in Radnor. Some key scenes play out in both places. Citizens Bank Park is prominent as well, especially in the first book, along with various other city sites. All should be very recognizable.
PB: Why did you do that?
AS: Honestly, when I started, I didn’t really have much of a clue as to what I was doing from a story development standpoint. Whether anyone actually said this or not, “write what you know” seemed like a good idea. Philly and the surrounding area where I grew up are very important to me. It’s what I knew for most of my life. I wanted to give it its due by incorporating some shout outs.
Obviously, part of my target audience is Phillies fans, baseball fans, and people from the area. Giving them small details they might recognize and can picture as they’re reading was only logical. I think I did OK because more than a few have thanked me for having the details in there.
PB: You just mentioned baseball fans. Would you consider these “sports” books then?
AS: Not at all. The stories are mystery and suspense set on a baseball canvas. If you are a fan of the game, you’ll see and appreciate the references to it, but you don’t have to be such to enjoy the reads. I’ve had a number of review comments from readings saying they were not fans of the game at all, but they really enjoyed the stories. That’s what I was after. I didn’t want to do a “baseball” book.
PB: Okay, so where can people get their hands on these books?
AS: I’ve just now released the second book, 7th Inning Death, in paperback – you can pick that up at CreateSpace. Game 7: Dead Ball is also available in print at a number of online locations and all three are available in eBook format (for Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, etc.). The complete listing is on my website on the Where To Buy page.
I’m planning to add a paperback option for the third book in October. Your readers can keep up with things by visiting my website or connecting on Facebook and Twitter.
Overall, Allen certainly has something special that's still in the toddler stages. Get in on this action now, so you can be among the first to complete this terrific series.
While the big gift giving holidays are still pretty far off, why not start a new tradition and set trends by getting some folks a Labor Day or Columbus Day gift?
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