Jan 9, 2012

An interview with writer Jessica Quiroli

If you missed the review for Jessica Quiroli's first published fiction piece, check it out here. You'll see that I enjoyed the 24-page (according to my Nook) short story about a female minor league baseball reporter.

We wondered if the main character of The Beat was modeled after Quiroli and, in part, it was. But she also used other women from the sports world to add different characteristics to Lauren Day.

We got a moment with Quiroli to ask her more questions about the book and the process. You can find her short story on Smashwords. Also if you have any other question for Quiroli, email WordsbySooz@gmail.com or leave them in the comments.

Q. Where did you get the inspiration to write the book?

A. It started with a desire to write a screenplay about a young female reporter and base it in 1979, just after the decision that allowed women equal access to the clubhouse. I toyed around with that for a long time, but it remained unwritten.

Then as the years went on and I gained more experience, and with the emergence of new media, I thought, why not set this today in baseball? There's so much going on, so many changes. Then I decided to base it in the minors.

The other part of the idea was thinking about the morality of journalism. If we learn something, is it all fair game? I'm sure I was inspired by my own experiences and feelings being in the business, but that came through as I began writing.

Q. What about the characters? How did you cobble them together?

Jessica Quiroli at the
Harrisburg Senators
A. Lauren, the main character, is very much fictional, but of course I borrowed from my own experiences. She's a mix of fiction and myself and other women I know. I wanted to present a very positive female sports reporter character. I wanted her to be brave, weak, frustrated, determined, insecure, intelligent...I just wanted a really well-rounded girl, trying to figure out how to succeed and be proud of herself. 

Claudia, the veteran female reporter, was someone I wanted to be very confident and accomplished. I wanted her to kick ass. A lot of the other writers were physical people I had in mind and created the character from the person I saw in my mind. Honestly, all three male reporters are based a bit physically on writers in the industry and a bit on people I know. I have to be able to see the person, to hear their voice, to feel I know them. Otherwise, I can't write them. I sat a long time with the people in this story, until I felt they were real and that I could describe them as if they were real people.

Each reporter needed to represent a quality and a part of the industry. One guy is the long-time veteran, near retirement. He's resentful and fearful. Another is at a mid-life point, divorced, and doing the same old thing in his career. He's uninspired, but lacks ambition. And then there's the hotshot, the guy who socializes with players, which is something some writers find deplorable and we see it often. He just works the beat in a shameless, exhaustive way. He's about himself, but he knows he has to be to succeed in such a competitive industry. It's hard to stand out. 

Q. You decided to self-publish the short story, what was the most difficult part of the process? 

A. Accepting that it wasn't going to be in print, in a book of short stories as I'd first envisioned. I decided to take the new route and do it on my own. 

Q. What kind of reception has the short story gotten?

A. All feedback has been positive. It's not sold great, but very good and that's meaningful to me. I made money as a fiction writer for the first time in my life. I feel proud of that. 

Q. Is this something that you would like to do again? 

A. I'm already working on the second story about Lauren, which will be later in her life and career. I'll publish with Smashwords again. 

Q. Is there anything different you would do the second time around?

A. I'm not sure. I might find better ways to promote the story. I only used my blog and Twitter. I guess there are probably a lot of other ways to get work out there, but I'm probably not very good at self-promotion. 

You can find Quiroli on Twitter on @heelsonthefield

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