In the fall of 1977, there was an aura about the night, the likes of which none had ever experienced. It was just another Friday night in Azusa, California; or was it? The Gladiators of Gladstone High School were set to kick a late field goal that could solidify a brilliant come from behind victory. The opponent—the undefeated Walnut Mustangs who were the #1 ranked team in CIF Division AA (and ranked nationally). Could magic be made? An Unlikely Season is a collection of three short stories, told from unique perspectives by the head coach, Roy Rhino; first team All-League receiver, returning for his senior year, James (Jim) Joyce; and an unlikely junior quarterback J.R. (Jeff) Wirth.
Was there magic in the air on a sports field in 1977? J.R. Wirth, co-author of ‘An Unlikely Season’ has kindly set aside a little time to walk us through the magic and memories in these three short stories. J.R, what inspired you to return to the sporting fields of the 1970s in this book?
I was approached several times by co-author Jim Joyce to write a book about our unlikely season. So as the anniversary of the season approached I asked Jim and the head coach to contribute. They said yes, and the writing began.
What can you tell us about these events?
It is a non-fiction book so all the events and people are real life, including my story.
And all of the characters are also real, without too much embellishment?
They are all real, but there wasn’t enough time to do them all justice. I did try to elaborate on as many as I/we could.
It is tricky to bring share richness of a person’s life on paper, but I’m sure you did them justice. What was the main message that you wanted to bring to life from these voices of the past when you were trying to strike the correct note of elaboration?
I guess the most poignant message was to never give up, no matter the odds.
And never giving up means that you need to keep learning. What did you personally learn from bringing ‘An Unlikely Season’ to published status?
Even though I lived it, the book brought a lot of insight into the team, obstacles, and determination that was needed to accomplish half of what we did.
The best things really are team efforts. As this is all about teamwork, is the team what you have in mind when you write, or do you like to keep something else in consideration?
The characters and the scenes are of most importance, along with a message and writing a readable story. So I think of how the characters are in a scene and how it fits with the whole story.
Getting the characters and scene to fit into a readable story can be challenging. Do you find this work energising or exhausting?
It does both. While I’m writing it energizes me, particularly getting a scene right. But after the edits, additions, and re-reads I’m left a wee bit exhausted–but fulfilled.
I’m glad that you’ve also mentioned fulfilment, it’s a sign that there are great things to come! As you’ve worked on these edits, additions and re-writes so far, do you feel that you’ve seen a progression in your writing?
It has and gets better every time.
Has this improvement led you to think about how the author brand that you are creating as you keep writing?
Most of my works are through independent publishers; this is the first time self-publishing with the help of one of those publishers (Books To Go Now) so it’s all taking on a life of its own. More to come I suppose.
Give us a little taste of what’s to come.
I have two novels coming out soon: “Avenging Angels” is with a publisher waiting for release and the second, “Saving Michael,” is done with a few beta readers as we speak.
That’s very exciting! I’m so happy that you’re seeing some fantastic success with your writing projects so far. Having two novels coming out the publishing pipeline in the near future is a great way to start 2018! And do you know what is another great way to start 2018? To have fun with random questions that kick your creative gears into progress. Let’s see if we can get the gears grinding with our first creative question, if money doesn’t grow on trees then why do banks have branches?
Like tree branches, which extend out to catch all the rain and sun, bank branches extend from the root to catch all the money possible.
That’s a great explanation and one that might need to borrow from you myself. What is your zodiac sign?
I am a Scorpio.
And can you cry underwater?
I would imagine that if you were to cry it would be because you were panicked, and in that case, your internal survival mechanisms would be on high alert and keep one from crying.
That’s a really good point. If it’s between crying and surviving, I’m sure most people would pick surviving! Here’s a curly question for you now, if space is a vacuum, who changes the bags?
Only God can answer that one.
I’ll put through a collect call to get that one answered. And when I’m at it I’ll also ask about why is a square meal served on round plates, unless you can answer it for me today?
It’s a ploy to confuse and make one more hungry, but not all plates are round these days.
It does seem like a ploy to make us eat more, but I think we might be able to suffer through a little more food! And while we’re munching done those square meals, we can think about the best of writing including favourite words. What’s your favourite word?
I have many, but circumvent is pretty cool.
Circumvent is a great pick. And to make sure we haven’t circumvented the point of this interview, let’s make it clear for all of those readers why they should pick up a copy of ‘An Unlikely Season’ today. What’s your recommendation?
The book is highly rated so enjoy.
Indeed, enjoy it today! J.R., I’ve enjoyed for sharing a few of the memories behind the magic with you today, and I hope you continue to make magic with your upcoming releases in 2018.
Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘An Unlikely Season ( ASIN: B0757D37WD )‘.
Want to find out more about J.R. Wirth? Connect here!