|Q. How did you come to write CRACKBACK?
A. When I was a boy I played football every day in the fall. Usually with neighborhood kids in the back yard, but if nobody else was around I would play by myself. I would make up games using the names of professional players and go from being the quarterback to the wide receiver as I threw the ball in the air and then raced to catch it.
My dad had been a star football player in college and was drafted to try out for a professional team. He declined the tryout and instead went on a trip to Europe. I spent endless hours as a boy watching football with him. My dad was a knowledgeable and passionate fan and very vocal in yelling at referees.
When I played organized football I played defensive end, quarterback, and tight end. By the time I got to high school I had to switch to defensive back because I was not big enough to play up front. I loved smashing into people, and one of the joys of football is that it is one of the few places where hitting someone as hard as you can is rewarded in a school setting. Over the years playing football, I broke a wrist, a finger, and an ankle. I remember wrapping the cast up and playing with a broken finger. Football is where I learned about toughness, dedication, and pain. As a football player I can remember distinctly the one play that haunts me. The friends I played football with all have such a play. Do you?
As an author one of my goals is to write books I would have loved to read. CRACKBACK is such a book. I think it is impossible to overestimate the degree of identification some teenagers have with sports. I was such a teenager, and my choices for reading such books was much more limited than the options available today.
One of the things I learned playing sports was the necessity of going beyond sports to a larger world. That is something good coaches instill and it was a treat to watch Miles make such a journey in CRACKBACK.