Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guest Blogger: Joe Wallace & Giveaway

I am really excited about today's guest blogger, author Joe Wallace, for quite a few reasons. First of all, I loved his novel DIAMOND RUBY -- you can read my raving review here. Secondly, I love tweeting with him. He is just the nicest man! And last, but certainly not least, I get to meet him this Sunday at my favorite bookstore Aaron's Books! I can hardly wait!!!

So without further ado, I'd like to welcome Joe Wallace to Booking Mama!

OXYGEN


I love being a writer—I’ve never wanted to be anything else—but for most of my career I’ve written nonfiction, books about science, exploration, and baseball. For all of these, I’ve met and interviewed people who were smart, funny, and filled with great stories. They’ve provided windows to exciting, unexpected worlds.

Researching and writing Diamond Ruby, my first novel, was something else again. In many ways, it was the most thrilling and satisfying experience of my life. But it was also a deeply solitary one. Learning about the world of the novel—New York City during the Roaring Twenties—meant countless hours in the microfilm room at the New York Public library, immersing myself in that time and place by reading day by day through more than half a dozen newspapers.


And then the writing of the book, of course, was also a solitary pursuit. Not lonely, exactly: I felt like I was living inside the colorful, dangerous world of the novel. But regardless of how all-consuming that was, it was no substitute for living in the real world, surrounded by the people I had to turn my back on for hours every day as I wrote.


Now that Diamond Ruby is out at last, all I can say is: Thank goodness for readers! As I expected, people who have read the novel are full of questions: Did the great influenza epidemic of 1918 really spread across New York City the way I describe? Did Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey (characters in the novel) really behave that way? Did the Ku Klux Klan actually infiltrate the Brooklyn Police Department, and were there really running gun battles off Jones Beach between Prohibition agents and rum-runners?


The answer to all those questions is yes. More importantly, I love being asked them. I love hearing readers’ opinions, thinking on my feet, being challenged. (For example, if you read the book, you’ll probably want to ask me how and why I—a man—chose to write a novel with a teenage girl at its center. Well, let’s talk!)


Regardless of what you choose to ask, never forget that I welcome the questions. Most simply, I’ll love hearing the sound of your voice. Even such a simple pleasure as that can be a real treat when you’re a novelist. It’s like oxygen, so essential that you forget you need it until you’re deprived of it for a while.


Getting to do what we love, we writers are as lucky as anyone on earth. Speaking for myself, though, if I didn’t get to interact with readers, none of the work would be worth it. A book is only complete when it’s been read and discussed. And I’m only complete when I can alternate the world of my imagination with the world of human contact and communication.


So…any questions?


What a fabulous guest post from Joe Wallace! I have a feeling that Joe would make a terrific addition to your next book club, so you should really consider picking DIAMOND RUBY!

Joe has assured me many times that he absolutely loves talking about his book, so bring on the questions...

And now on to the giveaway! I have one copy of DIAMOND RUBY along with a Ruby cap and a baseball card to share with one lucky reader. Can I just tell you how jealous I am of these prizes? To enter, just leave a comment (with a way to contact you) telling me why you want to read this book. To double your chances, you can leave a question for Mr. Wallace about his novel -- he will be thrilled! This giveaway will be open until Monday, June 21st at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Good luck!

61 comments:

Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug} said...

I want to read Diamond Ruby because it would be interesting to learn about the Roaring Twenties :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!
theluckyladybug[at]gmail[dot]com

Cheryl F. {The Lucky Ladybug} said...

I'd like to know what Mr. Wallace plans on writing about next. Will it be there be a sequel to Diamond Ruby?
theluckyladybug[at]gmail[dot]com

Beth F said...

Oh please enter me! I've been so jealous of those of you who have already gotten a chance to read the novel. What's not to love? Historical details, baseball, great characters.

My question: Were some parts of New York hit harder by the 1918 flu than others? I'm guessing the families living in tenements were most affected, but I'd like to know.

Tore said...

It would be interesting to read about the 20's. Besides that the book really sounds interesting. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

Joe Wallace said...

Cheryl--Thanks! Yes, I'm working on a sequel, set in 1926 (three years after Diamond Ruby) and in Hollywood...it's fun for me to follow Ruby and her girls as they get older.

katsrus said...

Sounds wonderful. Would love a chance to read your book. My question is How do you get your ideas for your stories?
Sue B
katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

Joe Wallace said...

Hi Beth...great question. Yes, the old, the poor, the undernourished seemed to get hid hardest by the influenza. But it swept through rich and poor neighborhoods alike...there were countless stories of the families of the wealthy and powerful being struck.

bermudaonion said...

I remember how you raved over this book when you read it. It sounds like it's so well researched! I'd love to read this book because it sounds fascinating! milou2ster(at)gmail.com

ruthhill74 said...

I am always very interested to read new books that have some kind of historical information. Sounds great!

ruthaw_1974@yahoo.com

ruthhill74 said...

I am always very interested to read new books that have some kind of historical information. Sounds great!

ruthaw_1974@yahoo.com

Carol D. said...

I'd love a copy of Diamond Ruby. I've been a baseball fan since I was in second grade and chased Willie Mays down the tunnel in Candlestick Park to get his autograph.
My question for Joe: you said you've written nonfiction about baseball, but how did you decide to write about a teenage girl in the 20s?

Thanks for the giveaway.
Carol
cdirks1@sbcglobal.net

rhapsodyinbooks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Wallace said...

Thanks, everyone! katsrus: My ideas come from everywhere. For example, a winter trip to the Bronx Zoo--the emptiest 200 acres in New York City, and with polar bears!--led me to write a story that was published in the collection Bronx Noir. The idea just came to me, and it worked.

Carol: I wrote about Diamond Ruby, a teenage girl in the 1920s, because I was infuriated by the true story of Jackie Mitchell, a teenage girl who in 1931 struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game...and was then banned from baseball along with all women.

I wanted the chance to make history go the way it SHOULD have gone. I don't have a time machine, so I wrote a novel instead. :-)

Melanie said...

Sounds interesting. There's something about baseball and New York that always gets me. Did you have trouble writing a girls story?

Linda said...

I enjoy the era of the Roaring Twenties, and this book sounds very interesting.

Having never heard of Diamond Ruby myself, I'd like to know how Mr. Wallace first learned of her.

lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

Diamond Ruby is fascinating because of the era and the memorable story and characters. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

traveler said...

How did you do our research for this book set in this specific era and time? Do you ever wonder what it would feel like to be there at that time? saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Joe Wallace said...

Melanie: I knew I was taking a chance, writing a book from Ruby's point of view. But I loved the character, and hoped that readers would take the leap with me. So far, the novel's most enthusiastic fans have been women and teenage girls...the audience I most hoped would believe and root for Ruby.

Linda: The Roaring Twenties was an amazing time to write about--so rich and exciting. Ruby Thomas is fictional, but she was inspired by the real-life Jackie Mitchell. I found a photo of Jackie with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at the Baseball Hall of Fame...and that's where the idea for the novel began!

petite said...

This wonderful novel sounds unique and captivating. It would be a pleasure to read this story. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

When I read novels set in an era that I would have loved to experience it is wonderful. What place and era would be your favorite to have lived in? rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

Joe Wallace said...

Thanks! traveler: I learned about 1923 (when most of Diamond Ruby is set) by reading day by day through about six different New York newspapers. By the time I was done, I had such a three-dimensional view of that world I felt like I was living inside it!

petite: with all its dangers, I think NYC during the Roaring Twenties would have been an amazing time to live. The world felt like it was full of life and possibilities.

Natalie said...

I've had this on my list of books to read ever since I saw your review of it...I want to read it because I usually agree with your reviews! :)Please enter me!

Stacie said...

I loved your review of Diamond Ruby before, Julie and still looking forward to reading it. We are baseball fans (Cubs) and my husband played for Norway, IA which the baseball movie THE FINAL SEASON is about. Now our boys are playing baseball! Our son also collects baseball cards! Staciele(at)netins(dot)net

Stacie said...

Did Mr Wallace ever play baseball? What team does he like to root for? Has he ever done a "tour of ballfields"? Staciele(at)netins(dot)net

Stacie said...

Does DIAMOND RUBY have an audio version? It would be a good one to listen to on our vacation.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, guys. I'm dropping in to say thanks to Julie for the e-mail. I've posted about this at Win a Book. Come on by and check us out, Joe!

Karlie said...

I would like to read this novel because I love baseball!! Mr. Wallace, when did you develop your love for baseball?

Joe Wallace said...

Susan--Thank you so much for posting the link!

Stacie and Karlie--I've been a Mets fan since I can remember; my father was an avid fan, so I became one too. I've gotten to visit some of the new ballparks, and some minor-league ones, but not as many as I'd like. I loved playing baseball, but was never much of a hitter (or half the pitcher that Ruby is!)

There will be an unabridged audiobook version of Diamond Ruby out in November.

Joe Wallace said...

Oh, in case anyone is interested: Some fimmaker friends and I made a Diamond Ruby trailer (like an old-time newsreel) that you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlbeIcICkXQ

karenk said...

this sounds like a fascinating novel...thanks for the chance to read it :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

Hi Mr Wallace...just wondering who your favourite authors are...and what you are currently working on these days...thanks :)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Joe Wallace said...

Thanks, Karen! I have so many favorite authors...one whose books I've loved recently is Kate Atkinson (Case Histories, When Will There Be Good News?). And, yes, I like books with strong young heroines in them, like To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!

Right now I'm working on a follow-up to Diamond Ruby, set in Hollywood in 1926. Love getting to visit with the characters again.

Margie said...

Thanks for the giveaway. The time period of this novel is interesting, and the inclusion of the baseball history makes it even more so.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Margie said...

I'd like to ask the author if he ever bases his characters on friends or family.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Joe Wallace said...

Margie--Both Ruby and her two nieces have elements in their personalities that came from my own daughter, my niece, and some of my students. The language, the attitudes, the strength are universal...couldn't have written my characters without them!

k_sunshine1977 said...

i want to read diamond ruby because i love 20th century history and my fiance loves baseball, so i'm hoping this is one title we can read together!

k_sunshine1977 at yahoo dot com

Ally said...

Please enter me! I love baseball and historical fiction, so I'm in!
allygotts567 at hotmail dot com.

Jolee said...

OOOOO....this sounds so interesting. Love the idea of this virtually unknown lady striking out some of the greats. What a fun story to pass on to my daughter too! joleehamlin at comcast dot net

Jolee said...

Question for Mr. Wallace -- is he aware of any children's biographies re: Ms. Diamond? Thanks. joleehamlin at comcast dot net

Joe Wallace said...

Hi Jolee--The only books I know of about Jackie Mitchell, Diamond Ruby's inspiration, are picture books for children. There are also a few short biographies online, but nothing big. Her story isn't well known!

Suzanne said...

Wow, What a great guest post! I can't wait to read Diamond Ruby after enjoying just the writing for the guest post!

I'd love to win a copy of Diamond Ruby because I love baseball and I love women heroine's. And Diamond Ruby sounds like the perfect girl to hold my attention!

Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!
Suzanne

quzy at mac dot com

Arch said...

I really liked your review of this book and I would surely love to read it.... I also loved the author's article in this post... he sounds genuinely interested and enthusiastic about knowing his readers... :)

Please enter me for this giveaway.

archanaskorner(at)gmail(dot)com

Thanks
Arch

LAMusing said...

I want to read this because I enjoy historical fiction!

adrianecoros(at)gmail(dot)com

LAMusing said...

Question for Mr. Wallace - My grandmother lost both parents and an older brother in the flu epidemic. In reading about how many people were affected I'm shocked we never learned of this in school. Have you found many readers were unfamiliar with the scope of the epidemic? What drew you to using it in your book?

adrianecoros(at)gmail(dot)com

Joe Wallace said...

Adriane--So sorry to hear about your grandmother's terrible experience! In answer to your thoughtful question--yes, I was shocked at how little I knew about the epidemic before I started researching it. I'd heard about unimaginable numbers of deaths, but the personal toll on families has been almost forgotten...except in families like yours.

I decided that I had to include the flu epidemic in Diamond Ruby partly because so many people in the 1920s had lost family members in the 1918 epidemic. I couldn't write a book set in 1923 without the shadow of that tragedy playing a part.

Joe Wallace said...

You've all been asking terrific questions that really make me think. If any of you are in book clubs and want the chance to keep talking about Diamond Ruby, I'll be happy to "visit" via webcam (Skype) or over the telephone. I had my first Skype book club visit last week--I'm in NY, and it was in Pennsylvania--and it was a blast. Thanks for listening!

Darcie K. said...

I would love to read this! Combine reading with my favorite sport and I am sold!
dmkayes@gmail.com

Cindy W. said...

I would love to read Diamond Ruby because I love baseball and I love reading historicals.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Cindy W. said...

What made you decide to write about baseball in Roaring 20s?
Are you an avid baseball fan now? If so what is your favorite team. When I lived in California I had season seats with the Angels for 25 years! Love the sport and I have to read your book!

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Anita Yancey said...

I would like to read this book because I think it would be a good and interesting read. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

Sarah E said...

I want to win Diamond Ruby because I'm fascinated by the book's storyline. Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Sarah E said...

Question for the author:

From where did you originally learn of the true story on which Diamond Ruby is based?

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Joe Wallace said...

Cindy--I decided to write about the Roaring Twenties in New York because it made for such an exciting setting. I mean, Prohibition agents and rum-runners and the brand-new Coney Island Boardwalk and Yankee Stadium, Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey and a dozen newspapers vying for attention. What a place to put a 17-year-old girl who could throw hard!

Sarah--I was searching through photos at the Baseball Hall of Fame for a nonfiction book when I came upon a photo of Jackie Mitchell with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. That's where Diamond Ruby was born.

Terrymac said...

My first love is nonfiction, and I am intriqued that Mr Wallace has ventured into fiction. I am quite sure that it will read more like nonfiction because he has done so much research and pulls from real life events. The premise of he story really draws me in as well.
And the title: quite compelling for any woman!
Seriously, I played baseball too, so I would really like to win a copy and read Diamond Ruby.

Thank you for hosting this giveaway.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Terrymac said...

My question for Mr Wallace: with all the questions that you have generated from Diamond Ruby, has this given you more inspiration for several other books? (Just in answering your readers historical questions?)
With Diamond Ruby being so popular, I hope there will be several more fictional books following. Maybe a series? We all love series....and visiting with the characters again and again.

Good luck, hope to be reading more fictional books of yours.

terrymac1a at hotmail dot com

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I've read nothing but positive reviews of DIAMOND RUBY; please enter my name in the giveaway.

And a question for Joe - did you leave any signed copies at Aaron's Books? If I don't win the draw, I'll buy a copy from them!

Meredith said...

I love books that incorporate a bit of history, even more when some of that history is true as Mr. Wallace has confirmed for us! Sounds like a great book!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Joe Wallace said...

Terrymac--Thanks! Yes, I loved the world Ruby lived in--and writing about Ruby and her nieces--so much that I'm already working on a sequel...and even a couple of other mystery projects about her. I hope to keep writing about Diamond Ruby for quite a while.

Dawn--I definitely left some signed copies at Aaron's...I assume they still have some left!

Maria K. said...

"Diamond Ruby" sounds like a fantastic example of American historic "everyday" fiction - the literary segment brought to life by the masters like Jack London and O'Henry. Having read the classics, I would love to see Joe Wallace's spin on that particular style.

writergal said...

wow. I can imagine how the KKK could infiltrate the Brooklyn PD but I wonder how far reaching it was? There are definitely crooked law enforcement officials out there as much as people would like to think there aren't.

This sounds like a great work of historical fiction that I could really delve into

Joe Wallace said...

Hi you all, and congratulations to the winner of the giveaway! (The prizes will be in the mail today.)

For everyone else...a special one-time offer: If you buy Diamond Ruby, and let me know at my email address, josephwallace@josephwallace.com, I will send you a Ruby baseball card AND a bookplate signed to you or anyone you choose.

Just tell me one of the people I dedicated the book to...

Hope to hear from you!

Joe