As football season kicks into high gear, Chris Bachelder, author of the National Book Award nominee The Throwback Special, took time out to share some of his inspiration for his novel about rituals, male bonding, and mid-life crisis.
In this tongue-in-cheek novel, 22 guys gather in a low-budget hotel on an annual basis to reenact a gruesome moment in sports history - the November 1985 play when Joe Theismann of the Washington Redskins had his leg violently broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants. As characters are introduced, the story becomes less about the central event - often referred to as "The Throwback Special" - and more about the hilarious - and sometimes heartbreaking - realities of reaching middle age. Bachelder, who has taught writing classes at the Sewanee School of Letters at the University of the South in Tennessee for several summers, says novel writing is a journey of discovery and that he hadn't initially understood "this was a book about nostalgia, belonging, and rituals."
"You can kill a book if you know too much about it," says Bachelder. "I tried to find drama from the movement of the mind since there's not much movement of the plot, honestly...those moments of thought that bend back against themselves and again, arrive in paradox and bewilderment and, hopefully, comedy."
Watch the interview below as Chris and I talk about the novel, why hotels are weird, how Kurt Vonnegut inspires him, and how an excess of characters can be just enough, rather than too much, of a good thing.
Getting that "Special" Voice
|R.C. Bray, doing what he does best - talking!|
I also caught up with R.C. Bray, the award-winning voice actor who narrated the audiobook and a guy I am lucky enough to call friend. There was a lot Bray found he could relate to, being both a sports fan and "around" the age of the men in the novel.
You had to voice a lot of characters in this book. How did you keep them all straight?
What was your prep process for narrating this book and was it easier or harder than you anticipated?
This book talks a lot about rituals - and the weirdness of them. Do you have any weird rituals with your friends or family? If so, why are they important to you?
You seemed to have a lot of fun narrating this book. What - if anything - personally resonated with you?
"Leaves are falling all around, It's time I was on my way. Thanks to you, I'm much obliged for such a pleasant stay. But now it's time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.”