Monday, July 14, 2014

Interview with Jon Hart

I recently had the pleasure to interview Jon Hart, author of "Man vs. Ball" about the book, some of the adventures he writes about in the book and writing in general.   Here is the interview:

What inspired you to write a book on your experiences in the sports world, aside from just recording them?

I genuinely enjoyed doing the activities for the most part – and some of them paid, which was nice. I got paid to work, sell wienies to be exact, in The House That Ruth Built. I got paid to fetch balls for some of the best tennis players at the U.S. Open. First and foremost, I’m a writer, and the adventures inspired me to write, and they gave me great material. After I finished writing something, I was often inspired to go after a new and unique adventure. Ultimately, I thought I brought a unique perspective to things. Writing the book was my ultimate reward. No trophies for writers, just books! 

Would you encourage others to participate or work in sports in a similar manner like you did?  If so, what advice would you give them?

The only advice I’m going to give is to not follow my advice. There are way too many advice books out there. If you put me in a corner though, my advice is to follow your instincts and tell a good, meaningful story with colorful characters. Write it down, then rewrite it until it’s a masterpiece or close to it. Lastly, try to have some fun, no easy task.

 If you watch any sports, either live on TV now, do you ever find yourself paying more attention to the people who do what you did?  For example, if you are watching a tennis match, do you watch the ball people more that the match given that you were once in their shoes?   And if you do, what types of thoughts run through your mind.

I’m always watching the ball people. I’m obsessed with them. I’m watching how hard they run. I’m studying how they hold the ball and toss it the server. I’m watching their form as they hold the umbrella during the breaks. I’m also examining their uniforms. Tennis will never be the same. Watching ball games, I find myself looking into the stands, attempting to find a hawker in a fluorescent shirt. I don’t miss hawking. Those stairs could be tough, and the games were not short.

If you were not writing down stories and notes while participating, what did you do to make sure that your writing was accurate?  For example, what did you do to recap your season of semi-pro football or the name of your co-workers at Yankee Stadium?

I took notes, copious notes – and I have a decent memory. I did my very best to make sure that everything is super accurate. However – and I find this kind of funny – certain people go out of their way to tell me that certain things are not accurate. Ball players have hecklers – and so do writers! I gotta deal with it and write on.

Are you currently working on any other projects and are there any other books that will soon come out?   Feel free to shamelessly plug your works here!

I’m always writing, always thinking. I got something in the pipeline. Frankly, I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about it too much. That’s a huge mistake: Talking about something before it’s done. Right now, I’m hawking – pun intended – Man versus Ball. I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed and all the work you do. I look forward to reading your book! Some more advice, even though I don’t give it: Get just write it down and get it done. If it’s in your head, it doesn’t mean anything to the outside world. Put it on the page!  


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