Author of 'Ball Boy' - Paul Shirley

Episode 186,   Jun 30, 2021, 12:29 PM

Paul Shirley returns to talk about his new book 'Ball Boy'. A story about community, purpose and basketball.

Buy 'Ball Boy' via Amazon here: 
Joseph via @nblpocketpod and Paul via @paulthenshirley
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Questions for Paul Shirley: 
  1. You’ve had a change of life - what has inspired that change? The change mirrors closely Ball Boys main character doesn’t it?
  2. Before we talk about what you’ve DONE let’s talk about what you’re doing - what are you currently working on? 
  3. Couple of square question: did you get an advance to write this or just a passion project?
  4. How and why did you decide on the size, cover art and text font and size of the book? Plus the decision to start every chapter on a fresh new page on the right hand side of the book; why?
  5. Why did you chose the opening lines that you did? They are your introduction, your first impression, how long did they take to cultivate? 
  6. Pg.20 you punch in and change the style to look like a movie script - why?
  7. Bo-duh-lair - you have a conversation where two character pin down the pronunciation of a relatively difficult to pronounce location (which becomes a major character). I appreciated this. Was it your idea to give the reader a leg up like that? 
  8. Who is the target audience of the book? Did you write with them in mind? Did you publisher ever remind you of the ‘economic imperative’ of serving a target audience? 
  9. You’ve got a great command of the simile Mr Paul Shirley - “the color of unbuttered popcorn” and “their midriffs slide like charmed snakes” He began distributing quizzes like birdseed and he was an old man in the park”
  10. Collective noun - on Pg.31 you refer to them as a ‘crush’ of students… 
  11. Intertextuality - Marie Kondo, Kobra Kai and Say Anything all get a mention - why? 
  12. On Pg.64 I wrote ‘the Patra Patterson character is a bit of a wink to camera. She’s that edgy, funky girl (wise beyond her years) which has become a cliche, but I think the author skirted around that and in a way deconstructed that trope’ - what was your intention with this character? Did you have any fears about the way you constructed her? 
  13. The mother character - Nicole Taylor - she has a story but Gray is the major character. The amount of ‘screen time’ she gets is probably 30-70 compared to Gray - were you mindful of that? It seemed to me you wanted to mimic that ‘TV teen drama’ Kids A-story, Parents B-story split… 
  14. Your portrayal of her was quite unique, modern - why a love affair with guitarist John Mayer?
  15. The end of chapter 7 had a nice button to end the chapter “What if I were doing something else tomorrow after school?” - what was the process involved in writing nice button and endings to chapters? Were you as conscious to leave cliff-hangers as a JK Rowling? 
  16. Why a latino main character? I had heard that the writer of The Sandlot movie wrote and modelled his main character ‘Benny Rodriguez’ after his high school bully as a cathartic exercise. Why did you do it? 
  17. Pg.86 - read passage - What did Los Angeles ever do to you Paul Shirley? Is Hollywood corrupted by actors or are actors corrupted by Hollywood? 
  18. Pg.98 - the nature of flirting - I thought this passage was quite daring - I believe it to my core and I think its great advice to young readers - dd you get any pushback over it? 
  19. ‘Someone people see” - is one of Gray’s over-arching ambitions 
  20. Pg.151 - You take a swipe at Star Wars - let’s explore this (1977 movies were for theatres not home video - the cracks are starting to appear) - If I’m not mistaken some time ago you were met with controversy after declaring The Beatles overrated - you also go on to cut down The Stones in this book too
  21. “Like a peach at the bottom of the pile” - nice saying did you come up with it? 
  22. I loved the moment on Pg.173 when Grey is entering the game for the first time and its a big moment in the game and you write “a referee was waving him onto the court with the urgency of a man who wants to get home” - I like it because Im quite self-deprecating and ironic. It’s a reminder that while important as you think things are they’re insignificant to someone else - are you at all worried about being too ironic - Inifinite Jest author David Foster Wallace ‘irony is the song of the bird that’s come to love its cage’. 
  23. CDs, use of the word 'wetback' and the inconvenient boner 
  24. Pg.198 - Flirting and romance 101 - read passage - did you mean for this book to be instructional on such matters? 
  25. Did you have a plan for this story/book Paul or did it grow and grow from repeated writing exercises (the get your characters in a hole and write them out of it)
  26. Pg.263 if this ever got turned into a move there’s your tagline - “He had a game to win. And a town to save. And a girl to get”
  27. Use or reiteration of the title ‘Ball Boy’ is typically a lowly title, but when are character is bestowed the nicknames it’s not because he’s a ball fetcher but with ‘balls’ or courage. Tell me about the decision to include or expand upon the title? 
  28. SPOILERS - the final act or conclusion - one chapter we end on the critical moment of the game and spending vote and then we fast forward in time and the climax is done in retrospect. It’s a bold choice - very Spartacus - Grey does NOT get the girl - tell me about your thought process around this ending - I was left shocked and what I thought was undernourished but then when i realised I’d closed over the back cover of your book and was pondering it I’m assuming that’s the reader reaction to your ending you were hoping for… 
  29. Legacy, appreciation, nostalgia, place and purpose are the major themes  
  30. “Having fun is the best way to attract people” and (a tangible positive impact of your book’ cleaning out my microwave at work without proclaiming it to my colleagues