Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with author Julianna Baggott

Today we're excited to chat with Julianna Baggott, author of The Prince of Fenway Park.

FQ: The Red Sox Curse is so well-known. Where did you come up with the idea of putting a different spin on the Curse?

The idea of the Red Sox Curse is well-known, but no one ever put it into a larger context, a full mythology and origin story. Yes, it had to do with Babe Ruth, but who really cursed the Red Sox and why? That's what I wanted to get to the bottom of in The Prince of Fenway Park. And since it's Boston and a Curse, it had to have something to do with Irish folklore which is famous for its curses, didn't it? Howard Bryant's book Shut Out was hugely influencial. Racism was the thing that fed the Curse in many ways all those years, and so The Prince of Fenway Park to address that legacy as well.

FQ: Why the Red Sox? Are you a big Sox fan?

I married a lifelong, diehard Red Sox fan. It has a way of taking over the house -- like a fever. I have four children, all of which are now Red Sox fans, even the two-year-old. It is their legacy.

FQ: There's a lot of references to famous players/games/events in baseball's history. Did you have to do a lot of research?

Yes. It's ironic because, at first, one of the draws to writing this novel was that my husband was a huge resource. I thought I really wouldn't have to do so much research. I'd just lean over and have him tell me the facts. But the novel goes into very sharp detail, and so we had to do a lot of unexpected research. My husband got to go on a behind the scenes tour of Fenway Park -- behind the Green Monster, on the pitchers mound. He was in heaven.

FQ: The Cursed Creatures are loads of fun to read about. Which one was your favorite? Which creature was the most challenging?

The Pooka was my favorite but also the most challenging. He was the greatest mystery and I had to really dig to understand him -- through and through.

FQ: I think a lot of preteens will see themselves in Oscar. What makes the character special to you?

We all feel cursed at some point in our lives. It's unavoidable. And those preteen and teen years are especially hard. But Oscar is resilient as most kids are. I loved writing a character with much to overcome who is so internally strong.

FQ: You touch on a particularly tough subject, that of racisim in baseball's past. Including the author's note touching on this was a great idea. Did you struggle with including the darker side of baseball? Why was it important for you to include the topic?

The story couldn't have been told honestly without it. It would have been a fairytale with no resonance, and the best stories that we tell are the ones that take on our humanity -- all of it -- the beauty as well as the ugliness. To sanitize the past is to undercut the struggles that our African American sports heroes had to endure and overcome. I refused to do that. And I think it's a great opportunity for teachers and parents to open the discussion. Children want to talk about complex issues. They know they're there. So why hide them?

To learn more about The Prince of Fenway Park, please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.