The Bridgeport Hammer
by Jonathan Weeks
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Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
It’s interesting how people tend to favor books over movies. I think it’s because there’s so much more detail in books. But there have been numerous examples of movies being superior (in my opinion). Two films that come to mind are The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me. Both were Stephen King novellas.
What is your favorite movie?
I’m a fan of many genres and it’s not fair to compare them. Horror movie: Army of Darkness. Creature Flick: Alien. Sports film: Jerry Maguire. Comedy: Blazing Saddles. Romantic Comedy: As Good as it Gets. Drama: Slingblade. Historical Epic: Gladiator. Those are just a few. I could do a top 20 in every category I’m partial to, but it would take me all day.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
Though it’s not really a superpower, I would love to have the ability to be interesting all the time (like that guy from the Dos Equis commercials). I’d settle for telekinesis too. That could be kind of fun.
Food you would never eat.
There are parts of animals that should definitely be used for other purposes. I will never eat tongue, tripe or pigs feet.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you want with you?
An iPod with at least 8 gigs of music on it, a kindle filled to capacity and a smartphone with the latest apps. Of course, with all that technology, I might not be stranded for long.
Do you ever write in your PJs?
Sure, why not? I do most of my writing early in the morning. Writing is an insular activity anyway. It’s not like I go out in public to do it. Of course, I see more and more people wearing their PJs in public nowadays—especially in Wal-Mart.
What is your favorite food to snack on while writing?
I love popcorn, but I can’t eat it while I’m using my laptop because it gets the keys all sticky. Same thing goes for Doritos. Come to think of it, I don’t really snack when I write. I eat after I’m finished as a reward.
Please tell us a little bit about your book.
It’s part sports drama, part action/adventure. The story is set in 1942. It follows the exploits of a U.S. counterintelligence agent as he attempts to prevent a group of Nazi infiltrators from assassinating President Roosevelt at baseball’s tenth annual All-Star Game. I’ve tried my best to capture the spirit of the era. I definitely got the baseball stuff right.
What was your vision for the book cover?
Exactly as-is. I described it to the design team at Black Rose Writing and they nailed it. I might have added a little color, but other than that, I’m pleased.
When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
Absolutely. All the time. I get a kick out of it. In The Bridgeport Hammer, most of the characters are composites of real ballplayers. I disguised the names while making sure they would be recognizable to avid fans of historical baseball. In general, I try to make the names of my characters convey something about their personalities.
What’s your all time favorite book?
Again—it’s tough to choose just one. I liked a number of books I read in high school. Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird all rank pretty high. Not all of my favorites are literary classics though. I loved Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I almost always enjoy Stephen King’s short stories. And Michael Crichton’s Congo blew me away. Too bad they messed up the movie version.
Do you run into writer’s block and, if so, how do you get past it?
Anyone following my virtual book tours has heard about my writer’s block. There was a period of about ten years when I couldn’t create a lucid work of prose fiction. I eventually turned to non-fiction instead. Later, I experimented with screenwriting. It lacks the descriptive detail of a novel though all the basic story elements are present. (I never had trouble with dialog, it’s the exposition that killed me) The Bridgeport Hammer is essentially a novelized screenplay.
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I write about baseball because it’s my favorite topic and it’s what I know the best. My goal is to get people interested in the sport and to develop an appreciation for it. No other sport has such a lavish history.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have another non-fiction baseball book finished, though I haven’t submitted it for publication. I’m currently working on a middle grade children’s book that combines baseball with supernatural elements. I’m also planning a historical novel somewhere down the road. That one won’t have anything to do with baseball.
Where can readers find you?
“As you would have the right to expect from any book about a baseball-playing spy narrated by the all-time record holder for most passed balls in a single game, The Bridgeport Hammer is a delight. Jonathan Weeks’ tale of baseball during wartime lovingly gets all the details of the old ballgame right, and does so while spiriting the reader through a fascinating tale of journeymen, espionage, and one unforgettably goofy pitch. Add “the bumpus” of the mysterious rookie Emmett Drexler to the great notions in baseball lore, and add The Bridgeport Hammer to your shelf of baseball classics.” – Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods
I couldn’t let Buddy investigate alone, so I followed him out of the club. I remember the scene clearly. The door opened on a cobblestone alley. It had rained at some point and the street lamps were reflecting off of scattered puddles. I spotted several mangy-looking cats eating out of a dumpster. The buildings were fairly close and you could have jumped across from one fire escape to another. A sewer grate was breathing steam into the air. The door closed behind me with a dramatic WHUMP! I checked to see if it was locked. It was.
“Great,” I said to Buddy. “Now we’ve got to walk all the way around. They’ll probably charge us to get back in.”
The two suspicious looking men were standing about twenty yards up the alley conversing in a foreign accent. It sounded like German. I didn’t see Drexler anywhere.
“Looks like we’ve got us a couple of Krauts,” said Buddy.
“Try not to make ‘em mad,” I advised.
There was a brief stare down between our two parties before the Germans (or whoever they were) advanced on us. They were walking side by side. In a move that seemed almost choreographed, they reached into their coats at the same time and pulled out what looked like Luger pistols. My stomach did a little somersault. I was about to die in an alley outside my favorite night club—And I hadn’t even gotten to see Carmen O’Day’s second set!
There was a glint of steel from above as two objects struck the gunmen one right after the other. FWUP! FWUP! It was like something out of a movie. The gunmen grunted in pain and surprise then teetered on their feet for a few seconds before toppling face first to the cobblestone. The daggers in their backs were stuck all the way up to the hilt. A noise on the fire escape captured our attention as a dark figure scrabbled through a window into one of the buildings.
We stood in dumb silence for a few seconds then Buddy grabbed me by the arm.
“We better get out of here before somebody blames us for this,” he said.
There was no debate. We ran as fast as we could.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Weeks spent thirty-eight years in the Capital District region of New York State. He obtained a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, New York, and has continued to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures ever since. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he has authored two non-fiction books on the topic of baseball: Cellar Dwellers and Gallery of Rogues. His first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, (a baseball story set during the WWII era) is being released in the summer of 2014. He writes about the game because he lacked the skills to play it professionally. He still can’t hit a curveball or lay off the high heat.
Link: Check out his “Cellar Dwellers” blog at: jonathanweeks.blogspot.com