Contest? Did someone say, contest?
Jack Falla's most recent work, Saved, is a fictional story of John-Pierre Savard, a veteran goaltender for the Boston Bruins. Through his years of hockey, JP Savard has experienced love, loss, grievance and rebirth. It's the story of two grown men pursuing their boyhood dreams of hoisting Lord Stanley high above their heads. As the two continue to tally up the seasons, put wear and tear on their bodies and fight through the late stages of their career, the dream starts to become a reality that pits the two "brothers" in a friendly yet competitive civil war.
Jack Falla was kind enough to donate not only his time, but also a signed copy of his book as a gift to the readers of Pensburgh, SBNation and hockey blogs in general.
If you want to win your own copy of Jack Falla's labor of love, then read on for further instructions.
P.S. - you'll need a Pensburgh or SBNation account to win. (it's free to set up and takes 20 seconds)
Tell me about your start; how you started as a writer.
I started writing hockey in high school for the Winchestar Star in
Let's talk about your last book, Saved, a work of fiction. You spent a good couple of years with magazines covering actual sports with actual players and actual stats. What was it like coming up with a piece of fiction, developing these characters and making them your own?
I'd never written fiction other than Sports Illustrated expense accounts. I never thought I could write fiction. It was my sixty-first birthday when I said to myself, “You know, you've always said you can't write fiction but you never even tried. So why don't you try writing some light humor of the stuff that you like – Dan Jenkins, Rick Riley, lighter stuff like that. So I thought, “I'll write 10,000 words, review this thing and decide if it's worth going ahead with it or not.” I came back from running one day at the high school track, and I was sitting on the back porch taking my shoes off and the window was open to the back den, which is where I heard my wife laughing. So I said, “Alright, let's make it 25,000.” And then it's an official go or no-go decision. I almost made a no-go decision, but I'd gone this far and figured let's punch it to 90,000 and I did and then I rewrote it. My agent took it, sent it out and a division of
What helped you push it past that no-go to let's go point?
Well the first decision was when Barbara didn't even know I was around and was laughing about it. I think you reach a point where the bet is so big in terms of time and what you put into it. It's like selling a stock for a loss; you don't want to do that. I decided just to punch it out. With every rewrite I learned a little bit more about fiction writing.
Jean-Pierre Savard – the 31-year-old goaltender for the
As far as obstacles along the way of writing – writer's block, creative tension, etc. What did you have to work through?
I didn't want a lot of angst and darkness. I know novelists are supposed to deal with that stuff but I wanted it to be funny. It's kind of hard to do that. I don't get writer's block because I go to a desk every day. Some days you write better than others, that's just how it is. But when I'm sitting at the desk typing 400 to 500 words, 200 to 300, I just keep punching and keep showing up. I didn't have trouble with writer's block, but I wish it was more consistently humorous. Sex is a hard thing to write about. If Saved were a movie it would be PG-13. It's a hard thing to do – you don't want to be hardcore, x-rated; you want to do it with taste. I've found sex difficult to write about. In reference to your earlier question about how writing fiction is different than journalism, in the game you have the plot handed to you. You've got the young Penguins and the old veteran Wings but it's handed to you. Coming up with it was hard for me.
It seems like anything that's hockey-related is character driven – Saved, Slapshot, Mighty Ducks; all characters. As good a movie as Slapshot is, it stands alone as a niche in hockey movies. When I first read Saved I was worried I'd be reading Slapshot in book form. At any point during the writing of this book, were you factoring in these predisposed ideas and trying to avoid them and hockey cliches all together?
There are only three fights in the book and two of them happen early. I wanted to show how Carter (character in book) is a dispassionate guy who fights for reasons of logistics and justice and Quigly just hammers the crap out of people. But I had to build a back-story for Quigly that explained why he did what he did.
The one thing I admire the most is your consideration towards human emotion and building or adding color to the outlines of these people. How did you throw these guys together like this and conclude that they'd make a good team? Would they make a good team?
Yeah I think they would. All characters are made up of people I know made up to a large dollop of my imagination. The Quigly character was a little bit like a guy I played goal behind and Cam Carter is a little bit like my best friend.
Let's talk briefly about your upcoming book. What can you tell me about Open Ice?
Open Ice I think is a little heavier and a little darker than Home Ice was. Open Ice is a collection of 13 essays that deals with mortality, as witnessed in my first essay about attending Rocket Richard's funeral. This wound up being an essay on my own French-Canadian heritage from my mother's side. My mother died young but the French-Canadian blood pumps hard through my veins, and when I went to that funeral I had a tremendous emotional reaction that I never expected to happen. There's one that deals with aging. I talk a bit about my backyard rink again – I took a trip up to Georges Vezina's grave up in Quebec and that led to a whole treatise on why we do what we do and how we choose to spend our lives. I guess it's taking hockey as a lens and looking at life through the lens of the game. Home Ice was my backyard. I sort of wrote it from the inside out. For Open Ice, I go out and I skate the
(laughs) Yeah, I've always said he can add one more assist to his career total.
Open Ice hits stores on August 29. Be on the lookout for more interviews with other great hockey writers throughout the off-season right here on Pensburgh.com.
Now is your chance to win a signed copy of Saved, courtesy of Jack Falla. All you have to do is submit a comment and let me know what you thought about the interview…simple as that. From there you will be entered into a drawing in which a winner will be chosen at random from random.org. This contest is open to
Further book reviews can be read on Amazon.com.