Welcome back to Author Frank Nappi
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 for 2006. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a screenplay adaptation of the touching story which aired nationwide in the fall of 2011 (A Mile in His Shoes starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder). Frank continues to produce quality work, including The Legend of Mickey Tussler: Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.
What is one book everyone should read?
My favorite author is probably the favorite author of every writer – or at least he should be. F.Scott Fitzgerald was a linguistic genius. He understood the rhythm of the written word the way a composer understands musical notes. There is such an ease and natural flow to his work – tantamount to the way the birds sing. It’s seamless, beautiful and moving. The Great Gatsby, his signature work, embodies all of these qualities like no other work of American fiction. It is, in my estimation, the defining work for an entire generation of writers. There is much to appreciate in Fitzgerald’s classic.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I feel as though I have always had the desire to put words on paper. It goes way back for me. I have a vague recollection of when I first began writing. I can remember writing a story when I was very young – maybe five or six years old. It was about a king who rescues a girl and makes her his queen. Not really sure where the idea came from, or even how good it was. I just remember my mom typing it for me when I was finished and that image always makes me smile. As time went on, this very powerful, ineffable need to write led me to the publication of several short essay pieces in Newsday’s “500 Words or Less” column. This was very gratifying for me but only fueled this desire to produce more substantial work — something like a novel. However, as the cliche goes, I lacked the proper muse or inspiration. I just did not know what it was I was going to write about. And I did not want my first effort to be gratuitous in any way; it needed to be something poignant, something close to my heart. Then I met two very special WWII veterans – Mr. Bill McGinn and Mr. Eddie Hynes — during a Veterans Speaker Program that I initiated at Oceanside High School for my classes, I was moved like never before. The stories they told me, and our subsequent friendship, became the basis for my award winning Echoes From The Infantry. I have bee writing ever since. Thank you Bill and Eddie.
I am milk phobic. It’s a long story, but it involves a rather tepid container of the expired liquid and a tyrannical first grade teacher. Enough said.
What do you do in your free time?
I love the beach, especially in the off season. I spend a lot of time there. I am also a rabid baseball fan, so many hours are spent watching my two sons play the greatest game there is or lamenting the fate of my New York Mets. Country music aint so bad either!
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
I would offer the same advice that Scott Turow gave to me. Just keep writing. This is a very difficult business. It is easy to be come cynical and jaded in the wake of all the rejection and disappointment you face. But if you have talent and really want to write, you must persevere. Refuse to take no for an answer. I believe that many a brilliant writing career has ended way too early because the author just gave up. Writing professionally is not for the feint of heart. It is fraught with all sorts of pitfalls and obstacles. But the challenge is what makes it so exhilarating. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I am pleased to say that there have been quite a few. Having one of your novels adapted for a film is pretty exhilarating. So is having something you have written endorsed by literary giant Nelson DeMille. However, my most rewarding experience is far less extrinsic. About a year after Echoes From The Infantry was published by St. Martin’s Press, I received an email from a man in Tennessee. His letter was not so much one of admiration for my writing as it was a confession of sorts. It seems that this gentleman grew up with a WWII veteran for a father — a man who resembled very much my James McCleary. His relationship with his father was fractious and strained in ways similar to what I described in the book. However, his father passed away before he ever had the chance to reconcile some of these feelings that existed between the two of them. Even though this gentleman from Tennessee knew my story was fiction, he was able to gain insight into his father’s mien and temperament and used the book’s ending as a vehicle through which he could finally obtain closure and move on. He told me that my novel saved his life. I’m not sure that I will ever receive another letter that will mean more to me than this one.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
There is a small, old fashioned fifties diner/ice cream shop near my house. They make a flavor there called Smores. It is the perfect amalgam of graham cracker pieces, chocolate and marshmallow. And, with hot fudge on the side (cannot run the risk of having it melt the ice cream due to crisis described in question 3) there is nothing better.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
It will change the way you look at yourself and your place in the world.
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
In no set order…F. Scott Fitzgerald, Babe Ruth, Marilyn Monroe, Malcolm X, and Jimmy Stewart. One stipulation…I get to sit next to Marilyn.
Ping Pong virtuoso.
Country hands down. No other genre possesses the story telling quality that Country music has.
Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I can see myself, in part anyway, in just about all of my characters. I don’t think an author can craft a character who is completely devoid of the author’s essence. Writer’s become very close with their work; consequently, each personality they create becomes an amalgam of himself and others whom he has observed over time.
What is your favorite Quote?
I have several, but of late I have adopted the Asian adage “Fall down seven, get up eight” as a mantra.
Lasagna – homemade…
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
San Diego. I am very much an outdoors person and would acclimate very well to the temperate climate in San Diego. Love the zoo too!!!
The Legend of Mickey Tussler
Seventeen-year-old Mickey Tussler is recruited to play for a minor league affiliate of the Boston Braves. Arthur Murphy swears Mickey has the greatest arm he has ever seen, that anybody has ever seen. And it might be true. But Mickey’s autism is prohibitive. It keeps him sealed off from a world he scarcely understands. Lost both in the memory of his former life with an abusive father and the challenges of a new world filled with heckling teammates, opponents and fans, there’s no way Mickey can succeed. But his inimitable talent — one of the most gifted arms in the history of baseball — gives him a chance. Can he survive a real life dream? Or are the harsh realities of life too much for him? This is the powerful underdog story of how a young man with an extraordinary gift comes of age in a harsh and competitive world.
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 hasseen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.
The Legend of Mickey Tussler
A Mile in His Shoes
The Legend of Mickey Tussler and Sophomore Campaign to 1 winner