Posted by Literary Titan
The Ballpark Buster follows a boy who grows to be over seven feet tall and takes the baseball world by storm with his impressive skill and strength. What inspired the setup to your story?
I had been reading about a young man known as the Alton Giant — Robert Wadlow of Alton, IL. Robert had a pituitary disorder that caused him to grow at an unprecedented rate. In fact, he was more than 8 feet 11 inches tall when he died at the young age of 22 in 1940. Somewhere around the time of that research, I accidentally rediscovered a set of captivating baseball park cartoons done by artist Gene Mack for the Sporting News in the mid-1940s. I liked these cartoons as a kid, and as I revisited the panels after all these years I started thinking about what would happen if a super-large kid (one who benefited from a surgery that Robert Wadlow did not get) landed in historic baseball settings of the past. It took a lot of fitting together of plot puzzle pieces and baseball chronology in order to make this “new” history possible, but my big kid Buster made his way and knocked down quite a few barriers.
Buster Logan is a charming character. What were some driving ideals behind his character’s development?
I wanted to keep Buster pretty down-to-earth throughout the book. Although he has obvious physical gifts, I didn’t want him to try and intimidate anyone as he competed in professional sports and lived his life. He did not draw attention to himself. He was a quiet boy with a lively sense of humor. He never veered away from the simple values of loving one’s family and being accepting of others along the way.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Buster’s great size often positioned him as an outsider, and I didn’t minimize the struggles he had as a young person who sometimes took abuse from competitors, unruly fans and insensitive strangers. In the book, Buster rubs shoulders with others who are outside the norm in one way or another — players like Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth and Ted Kluszewski. Buster both provides and receives encouragement from them. He interacts with a number of vicious people (including one major league manager) and, with great effort, learns to conduct himself with restraint even though he’s tempted to squash the boorish louts.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This isn’t anything traditional, but these days I’m writing and assembling a large compendium of comedic wordplay puns paired with images. (You could even say they’re memey.) I’m likely to release them as a collection in early 2023.
Posted in Interviews
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