Q&A: Joe Jankowski
Baseball is life for Billy Braddock but, when he decides to make a play for a position on the Fairfield Yankees he may learn that there really is more to life than baseball.
Q. What were your goals writing One Swing of the Bat?
My goals in writing One Swing were twofold: First, to entertain readers with an exciting, believable, real-world story and secondly, to deliver a realistic portrayal of how the application of Christian principles can actually work in contemporary society. (I have the same goals in my second novel, The Bruise Brothers). I do not believe that the second goal can be achieved unless readers are entertained and engaged.
Q. What can you tell us about the protagonist in your novel?
Billy Braddock is kind of a "different" kid. He's a down to earth, sort of old-fashioned, farm boy who lives on the ragged edge of a wealthy suburban school district, rampant with materialism. Many of his classmates think he's a "hick from the sticks." But he's honest, dedicated and hard-working and that leads to his making an elite little league baseball team, and problems he encounters with some of his teammates on and off the field. Like most twelve year-old boys, he's not particularly spiritual, but through his conversations with his best friend, Toby Ryan, he gradually learns how forgiveness can heal a rift with another player, and help propel the team to the championship game.
Q. What do you want the reader to take away after reading One Swing of the Bat?
First, I want readers (primarily middle grade youth) to have a sense of enjoyment like after they've seen a good movie, and an appreciation of how Christian teachings are just not for "church," but can have a meaningful application in their own daily lives.
Q. What first made you take the leap from "reader" to "author"?
"Author" is the first occupation I considered as a child. I loved reading books so much (especially about sports) that I thought it would be fun to write them. As I got into high school and college, I became interested in other endeavors, but my interest in writing was rekindled several years ago when I met a Sunday school classmate, Mike Stanley, who shared the same childhood sentiments as I did. We challenged each other to write a novel, and that's how One Swing came about. Sadly, Mike suddenly and unexpectedly passed away before he could finish his book.
Q. Many authors have all kinds of ideas for stories jockeying for their attention -- how do you choose which story to write?
I suppose that I develop my stories around some theme or feeling that I feel passionately about. With One Swing of the Bat it was baseball. With The Bruise Brothers, it was adoption, strong family, and the value of human life. Around that central theme, then, I try to create a story that I hope will be interesting and engaging.