Click on the banner above to follow the tour at Goddess Fish. To enter the contest ask the author a questions about baseball. Good Luck.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I like to hang out with my two daughters—ages seven and eleven. They’re really fun kids and I love them to death. When I’m not with them, I do a lot of reading and movie watching. I prefer thrillers and supernatural themes, but I do enjoy a little of everything—even romantic comedies. In fact, I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy. I watch a lot of sports on TV too—particularly baseball and hockey. For a living, I work as a counselor with mentally ill adults
Where do you get your ideas?
Believe it or not, a lot of my ideas come to me in my sleep. I often have vivid dreams and wake up with the plots for screenplays, short stories and novels in my head. The sad thing is, if I don’t write them down shortly upon waking, they fade away later on.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you while growing up?
No doubt about it—Stephen King is the reason I tried my hand at writing. The first book of his that I read was The Shining. I was about eleven or twelve years old at the time. I was totally hooked after that. I still read his books, though I prefer his short stories nowadays. (His novels tend to run a bit long and it’s a major commitment.)
What book would you like to read again?
Many years after I graduated from high school, I started re-reading some of the books we had been assigned so I could experience them as an adult. The ones that really stuck out were Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye and A Separate Peace. I didn’t care for Hemingway the second time around. I would like to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird. In fact, I think I’ll put it on my Goodreads list.
Did you have a favorite toy as a child?
When I was little, the first manned space flights were taking place. I remember watching footage of the first moon walk live on TV. My favorite toy was an action figure named Major Matt Mason. He was made of rubber and you could bend him into almost any position. He was an astronaut and had equipment you could buy, like a lunar rover. I wish I had hung onto some of my old toys. I don’t have any of them except for a few old board games.
If you could travel in a Time Machine, would you go back to the past or into the future?
Since I’m a big fan of history, I would definitely travel into the past. Specifically, I would go back to the time of the pyramids to see how they were built. I wouldn’t mind catching an old baseball game either from the 1930s or earlier.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I love this question! I like so many flavors it’s hard to settle on one. After giving it some thought, though, chocolate chip cookie dough definitely wins out.
Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit some day?
In college, I minored in history and really loaded up on Roman archaeology courses. I would love to go to Rome and see the ruins. I would also like to go to Pompeii and stand in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius. Closer to home, I’d like to visit every major league baseball stadium at least once. I’ve been to several already.
Do you prefer print books or ebooks?
I’m an old-fashioned kind of guy. As an author, there is nothing like holding your own book in your hands. I do see the merit in ebooks, though. They’re better for the environment and you can store so many of them on one electronic device. My house is cluttered with books and will undoubtedly only get worse as time marches on.
What is your favorite cereal?
All of them! I eat cereal for breakfast lunch and dinner sometimes. I’m particularly fond of Corn Pops, Frosted Rice Crispies and Peanut Butter Crunch. For breakfast, I do eat the healthier ones like Wheaties or Wheat Chex.
What are you scared of? Bugs? Snakes?
If the bugs aren’t too gigantic and the snakes aren’t poisonous, they don’t really bother me. I am definitely afraid of public speaking though. I get so tongue-tied and nervous I can’t even function. That’s why I turned to writing I think. If I had another voice, I’d be using it.
What do you collect? Trinkets? Books? Gadgets?
I collect first edition books about baseball. I also collect baseball cards. I have complete sets of Topps cards going all the way back to 1973. I have lots of earlier cards, but they’re so expensive, I acquire them a little at a time.
Coke or Pepsi?
Pepsi—hands down! It’s sweeter. Coke always tastes a little stale to me for some reason.
Tell us about the first story you ever wrote and how old you were.
When I was in elementary school, I thought the house I lived in was haunted. My parents and three sisters thought so too. A lot of strange things went on there—doors opening and closing on their own, cold spots, stuff like that. The first story I wrote was a ghost story. I don’t remember much about it except that it was pretty far-fetched. I must have been about seven or eight years old.
What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
Anyone who writes is a writer. You don’t have to be published to enjoy the process. Write for the sheer joy of it and the rest will fall into place over time. I had a high school teacher who told me that. I never forgot it and never gave up on my writing. I didn’t get published until I was in my mid-forties. I owe a lot to my high school English teachers: Tom Della Sala, Greg Wolos and Nancy King. (It still feels weird to write their names without a “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in front of them.)
What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Writing doesn’t really come naturally for me. I have to hammer it into shape. I experience a lot of frustration before my work is done. Some days are better than others, but a lot of times, I just don’t have it, so I end up putting my projects aside for awhile before coming back to them.
Do you play an instrument? If so, what?
I was a huge fan of rock music growing up. At some point, I knew I was going to have to pick up a guitar and give it a try. I taught myself how to play. I wouldn’t say that I’m actually good, but I know a few tricks and my finger-picking isn’t too bad. I’m a better acoustic player. I’ve written a lot of songs over the years and even recorded a few. Unfortunately, they’re all on cassette tape. I never did buy one of those digital multi-track recorders. At some point, I should.
What type of books do you write?
Mostly, I write nonfiction books about baseball. I’m excited about my first novel, which was published this year. It’s called The Bridgeport Hammer and blends baseball with World War II espionage. Right now, I’m working on a young adult novel. I also have a nonfiction baseball project finished, though I haven’t submitted it yet. In the future, I have another historical thriller planned.
“The beauty of baseball is that you never know. The game you’re watching may have somebody turning an unassisted triple play, a pitcher flirting with his second consecutive no-hitter, three guys on third base—you just never know. In Mudville Madness, Jonathan Weeks takes us on a whirlwind journey from the nineteenth century through the 2013 season—through the wild, weird, wonderful world of baseball. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!” (Jan Finkel, SABR Biography Project)
June 12, 1970
Dock Ellis was an occasionally dominant presence on the mound, winning at least 15 games three times and making one All-Star appearance during his 12-year career. During the 1970 campaign, he carved a small niche in baseball history when he tossed a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. It wasn’t pretty as he fell behind hitters all evening, walking 8 and hitting one. But the performance became quite remarkable fourteen years later when Ellis admitted to being under the influence of LSD at the time.
A free spirit, Ellis allegedly ingested the drug around noon believing he was not scheduled to start that day. About an hour later, his girlfriend was perusing a newspaper when she discovered that Ellis was listed as a probable starter for the first game of a twi-night doubleheader against the Padres. She escorted the Pirates’ hurler, who was now feeling the effects of a powerful hallucinogen known as “Purple Haze,” to the airport, where he caught a flight to San Diego.
Ellis remembered very little of the game, which started at 6:05 pm. He described his mood as euphoric and reported various hallucinations. “The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes. Sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t,” he alleged. Years later, he embellished the story even further, claiming that he saw Jimi Hendrix and Richard Nixon at different points in the game. He said that Hendrix was using his famous Stratocaster guitar as a bat and Nixon was the home plate umpire.
Snopes.com—a website that prides itself on debunking urban myths—posted the story’s status as “true” though from a guarded perspective. Ellis’s behavior was normal enough not to arouse suspicion from players or umpires. He was lucid during post-game interviews. But what would his motivation be for making such a claim? It only served to tarnish the crowning achievement of his career.
After his playing days were over, Ellis sought help for his substance abuse. He later worked as a counselor to help others combat drug problems. He died in 2008.
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