IRDA Winner Thom Ring on his Motivation: “Money’s always nice, but I just want to be read.”

Henry Hits the Ball was the winner in the Action/Adventure category of the 2020 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Thom Ring.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Henry Hits the Ball, published in 2019

What’s the book’s first line?

“What’s that kid’s name again?” Lou Esposito asked himself for the third time as he climbed out of his road-weary Buick.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Henry Brademeier can hit a baseball better than anyone who’s ever played the game. Yet he can’t tie his own shoes.

When scout Lou Esposito discovers Henry taking cuts with his local high school’s team, he initiates a great adventure for Henry, who’s never even been away from home. Henry’s own hopes don’t extend much beyond just getting more chances to hit a baseball. Henry Hits the Ball is the story of how ballplayers and coaches who have dedicated their lives to making baseball their profession deal with Henry as he unwittingly redefines the dark science of hitting a baseball.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

A number of years ago, there suddenly seemed to be great interest from the media in the phenomenon of savants, people with diagnosed intellectual disabilities who nonetheless possess an unexplainable level of skill in some obscure area. I wondered what the reaction might be to a savant who possessed a skill of great financial or social value in American society. The act of hitting a baseball almost immediately sprang to mind.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

I wouldn’t identity any particular person, but in my years working with people diagnosed as intellectually disabled, I’ve learned much from them. I think of Henry as an defacto Buddhist, living in the moment, always aware of the moment, and taking his time to be fully aware and appreciative of what he is experiencing,

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

Readers tell me it’s opened their eyes to appreciating what everyone has to offer and not making judgments about people based on your own prejudices. That’s a pretty good reason to me.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

I don’t know, but I’d want Ron Howard to direct.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I didn’t. I just wrote. In middle school I realized people wanted to hear what I’d written. But I still don’t call myself an author.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

Based upon my experience covering motorsports for newspapers and magazines, my first books were racing adventures. The Red Racecar books are aimed at kids who are more hands on – on machines and other toys, but not books. I also published a book of my short stories as well as one of popular columns and features I wrote about racing.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I am an employment specialist working with people identified with disabilities – as is Peter Gardiner, Henry’s job coach.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I write in spurts. It probably amounts to five or six hours per week.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

Getting noticed. And in that vein, thank you, Discovery Awards.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling? If so, why?

Possibly, but only if I felt that “hardest part,” shared above, could be overcome.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Money’s always nice, but I just want to be read. And compliments are nice, too.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut. I think it’s the mustaches.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

That’s not my style. I write what I can write. A wise teacher (after all, he was in the midst of complimenting me) told me once, “The only stories you can tell are your own.”

I’ll keep doing that. Maybe some day Henry Hits the Ball will be the answer someone provides to this question.