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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How a Gringo Came To Write an Award Winning Latino Novel

The first question I get is usually how could I write in the voice of a thirteen year old Latino boy? I am  about as far as you can get culturally from a young adult Latino just barely hanging on with his mother. But of course if you are a writer you are so many people that biographers will never get it straight. It is the same way I wrote in the voice of an old African American man in Tobacco Sticks and in Mica Highways.

Voice is everything. Once you have the voice you have the novel. When I started The Pitcher I wrote it in third person but quickly realized it would not work that way. It was boring and distant. So I started over and I knew it had to be first person but who would tell the story? The old pitcher? The mother? No. The boy, Ricky. Ricky would tell the story. And so I started to play around with his voice. Then I wrote one paragraph.

"I never knew I had an arm until this guy calls out, "Hey, you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?" I am only nine, but Mom says, "Come on, let's play." This carnival guy with no teeth and a fuming cigarette hands me five blue rubber balls and says I throw three in the hole, then we win a prize. He's grinning, because he's taken Mom's five bucks and figures a sucker is born every minute. This really gets me , because we didn't have any money after Fernando took off, and he only comes back to beat up Mom and steal our money. So I really wanted to get Mom back something, you know, for her five bucks."

And I had Ricky then. I had the novel. And where that voice came from is anyones guess. Maybe it is that kid who messed around in Baltimore City where I grew up. Maybe it was some of the Mexican guys I worked security with. And of course the hard times Ricky and his mother go through are my own hard times. And the baseball is my sons baseball and the coaches and parents are from nine years of being an assistant coach with my son. The immigration issues are from time and Ricky's dream of becoming an MLB pitcher is my own of becoming a novelist against immense odds.

Then again, maybe it was just Ricky flying around out there waiting to be born. But when the Latino Book of the Month Club made it their Monthly Selection or LA Latino did a story on the immigration issues in the book or I stand up on a stage at the Latino Book Festival in Chicago and read my book that  has to be translated to Spanish so the audience can understand what I am saying...even I wonder how a Gringo came to write a Latino novel.

 I guess I just did.

www.williamhazelgrove.com
The Pitcher

Books by William Hazelgrove