As you know, this month I’m running a special feature entitled “Author Spotlight”. Today I’m showcasing Timothy Gager, the author of Grand Slams: A Coming of Age Story.
Armed with a wonderfully cheeky webpage, his novel has received excellent praise.
“Timothy Gager brings his uniquely comic and inventive intelligence to this endearing story about a handful of ne’er do wells, misfits, and wounded souls with names like Dye-haired Bob and Kayak Kenny, all of whom are trapped in an unrelenting eddy of work, overdue bills, and misconstrued love at Grand Slams restaurant in Massachusetts. At the center is Sugar, a beautiful, smart young woman who has tried, unsuccessfully, to dull the pain of living with sexual escapism and excessive cocaine use. Even as you are laughing out loud, there’s a deeper wisdom that infuses even the most unsavory characters in this tale told in brisk vignettes. Gager’s memorable novel blends sardonic humor with compassion.”
~ Jessica Keener, author of the national bestselling novel, Night Swim
I always like to start with the same question for my authors. How did you discover your passion for writing?
Up to when I was in college, I didn’t like writing. I hated being told what to do, how to do it and basically, what to write about, even though I had been awarded my high school Journalism Award. I portrayed the school’s team players in a humorous way. I became serious about writing about twenty-five years ago. After a terrible event, I started to journal about it, until I felt better. When I felt better I found I really enjoyed and missed writing.
With the renewed vigor for writing, where do you find you draw your inspirations from?
I’m inspired by reading books and talking to other writers. I try to have a good background for what I am writing about, so I can sit down and just go.
It does seem authors are the biggest fans of other authors. Who are some of your favorites?
Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Joseph Heller and Carson McCullers.
It sounds as if writing has always been in your blood, even if you took time off. Was there any particular book which gave you the writing bug?
Larry Brown’s “Big Bad Love”. It was simple, yet it was genius writing. I always had read the masters, people like Steinbeck and Faulkner. I never thought I could ever write like THAT, so I never really tried.
In my effort to always stay on the (extreme) positive, I say classic authors are only classic after they’re gone. So there’s still time for you to be the next Steinbeck. How would you describe your writing style?
Depends on if we were speaking about poetry, flash fiction, longer fiction or full length novels. I’d say anything but “experimental”, straight forward with an occasional burst of something. Sort of like sex.
I totally understand. Writing, like sex, should get the job done yet always be fun. Humor me, what’s the strangest thing you had to research for your writings?
How Hippopotamuses make love.
Ok, I need a little more on this one. For which book and why was this a search topic?
I was looking for quirky animal activities so that I could lay out a metaphor. Did you know the hippo positions himself where his potential mate can see him, then he defecates on himself? To be fair, he also urinates at the same time. It’s sort of like male barroom behavior.
Just more proof of evolution. What is the hardest part of being an author?
Dividing time between writing, editing and promoting a book. Ugh, if I were to be honest, I guess promoting, it’s difficult to go all in with that and not feel like a dick.
Ugh, tell me about it. As if the stress of wondering if anyone is going to like your book isn’t enough, you also have to basically shove it in other’s faces. So, Mr. Salesman, give me a one-liner describing your writing style.
Quirky people, having real struggles and rewarding redemptions.
Why Grand Slams: A Coming of Age Story? What made you decided you needed to write this story.
I used to work at a Denny’s Restaurant while I was on my college breaks from The University of Delaware. Low and behold my main character is working at a Grand Slams Restaurant during his college break for UMASS, Amherst. The book wrote itself, based on the characters and their dysfunction—just like in the real restaurant.
Having worked as a waitress myself, I can attest to the awesome craziness which is found behind the line. Tell me a fun fact about this book.
If it were any other chain I would have used their real name but because of where I worked, I knew how petty they are/were so even when being satirical, I didn’t want to take any chances of being sued for all my riches. Also, it is set in the 1980’s in the Boston area and many places that I feature in the book, no longer exist… Chi-Chi’s, Jacks, The Web Brook.
Is there any special significance to the time/setting of the book?
I could have placed the book in the present, but I took the time and place where I was at, at the time. There’s a lot of nostalgia for the old spaces in Boston and Cambridge.
What is one movie adaption of a book which absolutely drives you bonkers, and why.
I feel I’m not in position to have an opinion on this, but I will play the safe card, “Doctor Strangelove”
Well let’s pretend Hollywood did call. Which actress/actors would portray the lead characters of your book?
Logan Lerman would play Woody Geyser and Elle Fanning would be Sugar. Can you make this happen?
Right on top of that Rose! Having been writing seriously for over 25 years, I’m sure, like your characters, you’ve had your fair share of odd experiences. Any strange fan encounters?
Yeah, I had a person from Florida knock on my door, unexpectedly and say, “I’m here” when I opened the door.
That might make me want to stop writing all together. Is there anything you’re currently working on now?
I have a few finished manuscripts I’d like to refine, one of flash fiction and one of poetry. I’m forming ideas for another novel—perhaps lengthening one of my short stories, which I did for my first novel.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just write. Write as much as you can. The wonderful thing about writing is that there is only room to get better, to become more skilled etc. If, as a writer, you think that you’ve reached a peak and can’t go any higher become any better, than you’re toast.
I agree. Thank you again, Timothy, for your humor and insights onto the world of writing. You can read more about Timothy at his website:
Interested in buying Grand Slams: A Coming of Age Story?
Or find him in most bookstores, on Amazon and all options.