Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Guest: Frank Nappi and his autistic baseball pitching superstar

About the Author:

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel,  Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the just released thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Frank is presently at work on a third installment of his Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. He lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.


Frank will be awarding a $50 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

  1. At any given time do you work on only one story at a time and maybe plot out the next one or are there many ideas racing around your head?
Sometimes there is more than one story racing around in my head at a time. Currently I am writing two very different novels simultaneously. I am working on the third book in my Mickey Tussler series and a new thriller as well.

 2. Is there a genre you haven't written in but would like to? Or wish you could write in?
While many writers remain faithful to one genre, mostly because they possess an affinity for that type of writing, my inspiration comes from a true penchant for exploring that about which I am most passionate. I am not really wedded to one particular genre at all.  After the release of my latest novel, Nobody Has To Know, the literary world may have to come up with a new distinction just to classify what it is I have doing the last eight years. I guess to call my work eclectic would be an understatement. My first novel, Echoes From The Infantry, is an adult novel (historical fiction) that delves into the world of a WWII veteran’s damaged psyche and subsequent family drama. That was followed up by The Legend of Mickey Tussler, described as a YA crossover novel that chronicles the exploits of a 17 year old autistic pitcher during the 1940’s. The sequel to that, Sophomore Campaign, is more of a YA story as Mickey's journey continues and now my latest novel, Nobody Has To Know, is another  adult release, but in the genre of Mystery/Thriller. Clearly these stories are all unique in their own way, and fall into very different genres. However, what binds them together is that same basic element that really defines who I am as a writer - someone who is moved by the human struggle. Some say I am experiencing a professional identity crisis. I’d like to think of it, as others have suggested, that I am just very versatile.

3. Do you add an element of romantic suspense in your stories?
 While none of my books would be considered romances of course, my books are about relationships. Some of those relationships involve courting couples, so there is some element of romance there. 

4. Say you have unlimited funds: What kind of writing office/cottage would you create for yourself?
I think I would maintain a very similar writing space to my current one, however I would move the location of my office to a waterview/beach view property in Key West for sure!!!
My office is where I do all of my writing. NO music, no snacks. It is the only place where I can get creative. This may be the case with many authors. And I suppose my writing space is not that unlike those of other authors. Well...maybe that’s not entirely true. I do most of my writing in my office at home, a modest room with walls adorned with my most treasured baseball memorabilia, highlighted by a beautiful 16X20 black and white Cooperstown signed photo of Ted Williams which hangs right over my desk.  I have other wonderful items in the room as well, including game used spikes signed by Tony Gwynn, an autographed Sports Illustrated cover celebrating Hank Aaron’s 715th home run and two Shea Stadium seats that I acquired after the Mets shut down the old place. There’s lots more as well. My actual desk is littered with items you would expect any author to have handy -- some practical and germane to the writing process and some which hover I suppose in the realm of the idiosyncratic I suppose. I have plenty of pens and pencils, a clock, an old fashioned dictionary, and other office supply stuff like paper clips, tape, staples, etc. The more colorful items cluttering my desktop include a tiny wooden Hemingway House replica I bought while in Key West, a 12 inch Batman figure, New York Met Bobblehead, San Diego Sno Globe, lots of loose family photos and an F. Scott Fitzgerald magnetic finger puppet I received as a gift. It is quite an odd amalgamation of things but it works for me!
5. If you could turn your novel into a TV show, which novel or series would you do? Where would it be set? Network TV (ABC, NBC, CBS), Cable (AMC, BBC, Lifetime) or Premium Cable (HBO, Showtime, Starz)?
I am lucky to say that the first book in my Mickey Tussler series, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, has been adapted for a movie already!!!  Check out the movie “A Mile in His Shoes” – starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder in the lead roles.  You can purchase the DVD at Amazon. Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
Only a miracle can help baseball coach Arthur “Murph” Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team. As Murph sets out to recruit new talent for the team, he stumbles upon Mickey (Luke Schroder), a young farmer with an incredible pitcher’s arm. However, Mickey’s parents are reluctant to allow him to join the team because he has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Murph convinces Mickey’s parents that life in the minor league will benefit their unique son, but he doesn’t realize just how much his new recruit will help the team’s game and, more importantly, their spirit. Based on the novel “The Legend 0f Mickey Tussler” by Frank Nappi.
6. Finally, tell us about your Mickey Tussler series!
The series tells the story of a 17 year old autistic kid who is mired in the obscurity of a small farm in Indiana in 1948. In addition to his condition, which of course has no name at the time, Mickey possesses the remarkable ability to throw objects (most notably apples) with extraordinary velocity and precision. It appears that his life will never amount to anything more than the day to day toiling on the family farm under the cruel and watchful eye of his cantankerous father Clarence when a most fortuitous encounter with baseball manager Arthur Murphy, a man who himself is struggling with his own demons, alters the trajectory of each of the character's lives forever.



In the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey’s autism—a disorder still not truly understood even today—has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey’s powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.


It’s 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie  A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey’s proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season’s violent conclusion, his manager—and now surrogate father—Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.
 Read an excerpt!

Barnes and Noble 


Mary Preston said...

How thrilling to not only have people read your books, but see it played out on screen. I must chase up the DVD.


Andra Lyn said...

Hi Frank, thanks for the interview. I'm intrigued by your blended genres, especially the new category that had to be made up for Nobody Has to Know. Do you think this could hurt your book sales though, because no one knows quite what to call your books? Or do you think it could be great for sales because it doesn't fit just one genre?

andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting

Catherine Lee said...

I'm in awe of authors who can be writing more than one novel or story simultaneously. I think that takes real talent.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Ingeborg said...

I'll have to check out the movie.


Karen H in NC said...

Thanks for the informative interview. I have placed that movie in my Netflix queue. Must watch it this weekend.

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Shannon R said...

You writing space does sound awesome, no wonder you'd only want to move its location given unlimited resources. Thanks for the glimpse into the writer's world

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I like the genre blending!


bn100 said...

Cool that your books were made into movies

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Chelsea B. said...

How super exciting about your novel being turned into a movie! Ahhh! I don't think I'd ever get over that! What did you think the first time you watched it?


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