Sunday, April 30, 2017

Take you Out---or Take you Home?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Are you a take-me-out-to-the ballgame? Or a take-me-home?

 Got to say, I  love baseball, sitting in the ball park ,with all the hilariously happy (sometimes) people, rooting for your team to win. And that moment, when it's one guy, the pitcher, against one guy, that batter, and everyone focused on the moment when everything could change. And how it's a team sport, and an individual sport, and ah. I love it.

Not so much the spitting (what is there to spit? I have NEVER spit.) Or the rowdy beer-throwing and whatever. And the hitching of pants. I have never hitched my pants.

But I love the families in the bleachers, and the cheering for success, and the sunny days and crackerjacks and hotdogs. Delicious hot dogs. And I don't even generally like beer, but you've gotta have at least a sip at the ball game.

And yes, the Red Sox often break our hearts. But there' s always next year. But this could happen!

So how about you? Take you out to the ballgame? Or take you away it?  And if you were playing, would you want to be the batter when it's the last up of the last inning in a tie game and you could win it all?  I always think the world is divided into the "put-me-in" people and the "no way" people.

And who's your team?

RHYS BOWEN: Giants fan here, Hank. Love my Giants although they have started this season with the worst record since 1980 something. We usually go to spring training in Scottsdale which I find more fun than the real games in a cold and drafty stadium in San Francisco. A friend has season tickets and I snap up the ones she can't use. And they are in the friends and family section so we get to sit with players' families. You can tell the wives by the enormous rocks on their left hands!

Your question about whether I'd want to be that last batter... I know what I'd hate and that would be to be closing pitcher, last game of world series, being handed a one run lead in the ninth. I know, it happened to the Giants once and he blew it.

HALLIE EPHRON: We are blessed here in Boston with Fenway Park and the reliably unreliable Red Sox. I go to about one ball game a season (we're going in a few weeks to see them play the Minnesota Twins) and I love almost everything about it, especially when we win. My husband listens to all the games at home.

I was a terrible baseball player. Afraid of the ball. It's very hard, you know. And I never learned how to use a glove. But in my dreams I'm on second base, bases loaded, two outs in the final inning, Red Sox behind by one, and Big Papi hits a base-clearing homerun.

The worst thing about baseball is when your favorite players retire or go to different teams.

INGRID THOFT: I wouldn’t characterize myself as a baseball fan, but as Hank and Hallie know, when you live in Boston (or it’s your hometown,) you are a Red Sox  fan.  For life.  I’ve been to a handful of games over the years, and what I’ve enjoyed most is the atmosphere at Fenway Park.  A warm night, some snacks, the Green Monster, the traffic rushing by on the Mass Pike, all make for an iconic baseball experience.  Every New Englander should go at least once, if only to soak up the scene.

 I never played baseball or softball growing up, but I lean towards the “put me in, coach!” frame of mind, so I would rather be the last batter up than riding the bench. 

DEBORAH CROMBIE:  I didn't grow up watching baseball or going to games. Which is weird because my dad coached a corporate women's softball team before I was born, but somehow that didn't translate to professional baseball. But my daughter played softball all through elementary school, and we became big Texas Rangers fans. I loved going to the games and following the team. I still watch the games when I have a chance, and I was really rooting for the Rangers to make it to the World Series last year.

I haven't been to a game in years, though, because Rick doesn't like baseball, or any kind of organized sport.

JENN MCKINLAY: I grew up in Newyorkachusetts (i.e. Connecticut) in which baseball is pretty much divided by the Connecticut River. On one side it's all Yankees fans and on the other it's the Red Sox. I spent my middle school and teen years on the Red Sox side and am a member of Red Sox Nation in honor of my grandmother who was one of their most ardent fans. That being said, when the Diamondbacks came to AZ, I was all in. Hub and I had just started dating and his father had season tickets so much of our first year together was spent watching the Diamondbacks, which was a pretty awesome courtship but that could be because of the hotdogs, peanuts, Red Vines, beer, and gourmet popcorn.

Yes, I love the game but my favorite part of baseball is the food. Shocker, I know. "'Cause it's one, two, three strikes you're out at the old ball game!"

LUCY BURDETTE: We spent a couple years living outside Detroit when I was a kid, so we all became mad for the Tigers. When I lived in Gainesville Fl, the closest team was the Braves, but I never did get very attached to them. Now when we're in Connecticut, it's exactly as Jenn described--and we live right on the dividing line for Yankees versus Red Sox fans. I only get interested in baseball when the playoffs and World Series come around. Though I think I could become a Red Sox fan!

Ask me about UCONN women's basketball, however, and I can tell you anything and everything about the players, the coach, the competition...I love watching those girls play!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I married into New England, and so became a Red Sox fan, as one is required to do. (Ross and I have a good friend who grew up outside NYC and is an adamant Yankees fan, despite living in Portland for close to thirty years. It takes real guts to be a Yankees fan in Maine.)

For me, however, the best of baseball is our local AA team, the Portland Sea Dogs. They play in Hadlock Field, a perfect gem where there's not a bad seat to be found (and general seating is less than the price of a movie ticket!) In all the years we've been going, I've never seen or heard any altercation, beer-throwing or loud profanities. Instead, it always seems a festival gathering of Mainers grateful to be out under the blue sky, eating hot dogs and drinking local microbrews from the Shipyard Brew Pen. We've seen some amazing talent play there: Mookie Betts, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez all came up from the Sea Dogs. They have fireworks after the game on the 4th of July, and promotions like Dog of the Day (featuring adoptable dogs,) Superhero Day (come in costume,) and Pride Night (to coincide with Portland's Pride Day festivities.)

You can't beat it, which is why we have tickets for a double header this coming Friday!

HANK: Whoo hoo! How about you, Reds readers? Baseball—yes, no? And who’s your team? 

photo credits and thank you to: C. Penier. Yobro,  Onyschenko, David Lee

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Location, Location, Location

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I’m in Bethesda Maryland today at Malice Domestic!  Whoo hoo! And photos to come.

Where are you? The wonderful David Burnsworth—who I met years ago in one of those serendipitous meetings at some conference and we instantly bonded—has changed his location for his third book.

Moving is a big deal—you get comfortable, then you have to pick up lock stock and book collection, and hope for the best in a new place.

Where was your last move? Where are you now?

David’s Brack Shelton is sticking with the south.

Home is Where You Keep Your Sunscreen

                   David Burnsworth

Charleston, South Carolina will always be home to my protagonist, Brack Pelton. My first two books, SOUTHERN HEAT and BURNING HEAT were set there. But with the third installment, BIG CITY HEAT, Brack gives Charleston a break and heads to the Capital of the South—Atlanta!

Realtors will say, “Location, location, location.” I couldn’t agree more. Some (probably even me) have called setting another character of the book. I now consider it more than that. Setting influences everything about the story. Winter in northern Maine or Wyoming could freeze appendages off. Certain parts of New York City or Chicago require bullet proof windows. The solitude of Denali might trigger introspection or loneliness.

I love Charleston because it is like no other place on earth. Antebellum homes on lower King Street, crabbing in the waterways of Johns Island, shopping in the Market, and sipping sweet tea at a beach bar on the Isle of Palms while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean are just a few of my favorite things. 

So is exploring the cobble stone streets or driving down Seventeen South toward Beaufort under the cover of live oaks bejeweled with Spanish Moss. The city’s part in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and current events. Mix in the Deep South climate of humidity approaching a hundred percent in the summer and calling Charleston special doesn’t do it justice.
So why did I pick Atlanta for book three? Like Charleston, I also lived in Atlanta at one time in my life. I felt a need to return, to see how the city of my teens had weathered time. And what I found was what started in the late seventies and early eighties as a boom town transformed the city into a cultural powerhouse. Every corner brings something to the table. Music, art, food, progress…Atlanta is absolutely drenched in its own diversity.

For many reasons, including giving me a more worldly outlook, my parents uprooted from what I’ll call rural America to the big city. I have to admit it took me quite a while to adapt. The experience forced me to change and adapt. And it certainly exposed me to a bigger world than I had been used to.

So, Brack had to go, too. This new book was a long time coming for me. I needed to take myself and Brack out of our shared comfort zone. Like for me on my research trip, he finds things are different in the metropolis. While challenging to write, it gave me a new cast of supporting characters to choose from and a different world to play in.

I read some authors because of the consistency of the setting and characters. And I read other authors because they change things up. My series’ home is Charleston.

But I’ll not be afraid of mixing things up from time to time. BIG CITY HEAT is me living this out.

Where are your favorite books set?

HANK:  Oh, gosh, that’s too hard. It depends on the story.  I guess—they’re set in a place that feels real. How about you? And check in, Reds and readers!  Where are you today?

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. He is the author of both the Brack Pelton and the Blu Carraway Mystery Series. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home.
BIG CITY HEAT is his latest southern noir.