Like a nervous lover, I’ve started half a dozen letters to you. Why is this letter so hard? Because I’ve been waiting so long to write it.
So, flustered and frustrated, I decided to write a list. I am excellent at lists; the form is always available to me. I will admit to adding already completed tasks to a list just for the pleasure of crossing them off.
And for this list, ten points, because in bowling there are ten pins. Something to go on.
- First, the basics: My novel is called Midnight Bowling.
- I do not bowl.
- But I could spend all day hanging out in an old school bowling alley. There’s a great one in Durham, San Antonio, and two in Sandusky, OH, where the story is set. One is in the basement of the beautifully restored State Theatre downtown. The other, Star Lanes, was the model for Midnight Bowling’s Galaxy Lanes.
- You can’t love a place and a time without also feeling the loss of it. Also sometimes you do something for the art, and sometimes for the need. And everyone knows that there is one love that lodges in your heart. That is what this novel is about.
- Midnight Bowling started as a story told, then as a short story. For the short story, I figured I could fudge my lack of bowling knowledge for a couple dozen pages.
- Besides, the story wasn’t really about bowling.
- That said, my main character Tess Wycheski is a teenaged star bowler, so for the longer form additional research was required. I went to Sandusky and interviewed the owners of the Star (Galaxy) Lanes, as well as some local pros, and the retired coach of the town’s high school team, the Sandusky Blue Streaks. After that I had Tess’ world. Her father, a former pro, is her first love; the sport is her second. And then, because I like things to come in threes as much as the next person, her third love (her first boyfriend) makes her question everything she’s believed so far. And then there’s Leo Florida, ex-hustler and owner of the Galaxy Lanes, who betrayed her father but says he can make her a pro. And who has a secret that involves them all.
- Well I’ll be damned, I said to myself after about a dozen years working on this novel on and off. I’ve got a love story! Actually, several of them.
- The only important stories are love stories. To me, at least.
- Regarding bowling and my knowing nothing about it: If you’re driving down a road you follow every day, you don’t pay attention. You know the way. You can get home and not remember seeing anything you passed. Not so if you don’t know the way. Then you’re keeping your eyes open. You’re searching. This is what Midnight Bowling has been for me. A search. A love letter to love stories. A love letter to you.