Over the weekend, I decided to make the ebook version of Approaching Twi-Night free, in celebration of the beginning of spring training. Just for a couple days. The book slowly crept up to number 3, then 2, then late last night hit the top spot in free baseball ebooks….in non-fiction.
I guess it’s so realistic a novel that it’s non-fiction, insofar as, yes, there was a baseball strike in 1994 and there are Class A teams in New York.
Of course, it also shows up in the sports fiction category, at around number 18 or 19. The others in the top 20 free ebooks are “sports romance” and have such breathless titles as “A Hot Baseball Romance” and “Love Bats Last.”
Meanwhile, my novel includes only a brief description of the main character, John Klein, meeting someone (Vivian) from a broken relationship (you can read the excerpt here, as recently featured on the literary blog Writing as Art). A bit different from “A New Steamy Sports Romance.” But there is a kind of thematic resemblance. In a way.
You see, when I first presented excerpts from the novel-in-progress (waaay back when) to fellow writing workshop-mates, several of them commented that they felt I should include a sex scene or two. “You know what ballplayers are like,” one said (or words to that effect). I demurred. I didn’t want the focus of the story to be a “hot baseball steamy romance.” The relationship of the main character to his teammates and to his family was much more important, and including random sexual (mis)adventure scenes would have been completely out of character, in addition to a major distraction from the plot.
It was important that the character stay in character, up to the final scene of the book. He’s a failure. He feels like he’s a failure, that he’s always been a failure, and that’s why he says openly, repeatedly, on the mound at the end of the book, “I’ve failed.” Only of course his teammates and family disagree. His relationship to Vi was clearly part of his sense of “I’ve failed,” but really, relationships ought not to be viewed in terms of failure or success. Considering personal relations in terms of winning and losing, like a game, cheapens the relation and treats people as objects.
If anything, that was the true failure of the main character, and it takes him the entire book to finally figure out that he has no real reason to kick himself. So, does that make my novel a “steamy baseball romance”? Hmm.