Tag Archives: bullying

Introducing Billy Goat Stats

On May 25, Dreamspinner Press will publish Billy Goat Stats, the second in my DIY Family series. I wrote the novel because I fell in love with the main character, Billy, in my previous novel, Music Box. Billy appeared when Jonah, one of the earlier novel’s protagonists, needed help coping with bullies in school. Billy befriended Jonah despite being a jock, a basketball player, and popular—that is to say, from as distant a social sphere as I could imagine. When their friendship blossomed, I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if their relationship moved beyond the platonic.

Exploring Jonah and Billy’s story presented some challenges for me as a writer. First, it required that I describe an intimate, but mostly long distance relationship. Billy starts the story by leaving Glen Falls to take up a basketball scholarship at Hoosier State University. Jonah is left behind to finish his senior year in high school. Jonah believes a relationship impossible. Fortunately for Jonah, Billy is not one to shy away from a challenge, and their telephone bills grown with the strain of hours of late-nite calls. Establishing intimacy with Jonah is only one of the challenges Billy faces in his freshman year. Helping to hold his team together as they make their way towards NCAA March Madness is another.

Billy Goat Stats Cover

Cover

Writing about basketball was a problem of my own creation. When I introduced Billy in Music Box, I had no idea I would write about him again, so I carelessly indulged my fantasy and made him a “long and tall” basketball jock. Unfortunately, I’ve been more a hiker and rollerblader than a team sports fan, and I’ve never followed basketball. Research skills to the rescue!

Studying basketball statistics with an eye towards describing a realistic season for Billy’s team led me into the larger world of sports statistics and the obsession with numbers energizes and occupies so many sports fans. From there, the leap to Billy’s interest in tracking his own life statistics was a short one. I hope you enjoy tracking Billy’s progress as much as I did!

Choosing an End

I’ve just rewritten the ending to my new novel, Music Box. I have been thinking of this book as a romance, however serious the subject matter of bullying. In the romance genre, of course, there are two main protagonists who fall in love, and there is a happy ending. However, Music Box diverged from this model early on, when I decided to have three main protagonists and three point of view characters:

  • Jonah, a boy who is being bullied in school;
  • Paul, the high school music teacher; and
  • Davoud, the owner of the local music store.

Originally, Paul and Davoud were to come together over their mutual interest in helping Jonah. Things went somewhat afield when Jonah managed to develop a crush on another student, Billy. While Billy isn’t a POV character, he’s now a more prominent character, and his relationship with Jonah is now a major sub-plot.

Still stuck on the idea that I was writing a romance, my original ending had Paul and Davoud happily engaged, Jonah and Billy at a point of mutual understanding, and the bullying situation more-or-less resolved. However, once I had a complete draft of the novel, I found that I was not satisfied with the resolution of the bullying issue. That is what I just changed, for the better I think. One thing is clear, this is no longer a traditional romance. Hopefully, it is a better novel for all that.