In our continuing Q & A series, the museum of americana caught up with Christine Fadden to chat about girls’ softball, the eighties, and her future plans for her novel, Outta Here! Christine’s novel excerpt, “Throwing Signs” appeared in Issue Nine. To read more, from Christine, go to www.christinefadden.com.
What inspired you to write about the milieu of girls’ softball, and what was your process for developing this world in your fiction?
CF: I’ve always loved playing softball. I especially love to pitch. In the early eighties, in middle school back east, I played field hockey and softball. I was on the varsity hockey team and in softball, made All Stars. When I moved west to start high school (after my parents split), there was no field hockey team. I was crushed. I tried out for soccer, but in cuts made something like the junior varsity B team. I stuck with it only because the daily doubles were good for my head. Exercise always has been, for me, more about my mind than my body. Anyway, that first spring out west, I decided to try out for track instead of softball. Maybe around that time I was finding “solo” sports more my thing. Also, I loved racing. I run and swim now and would love to find a great co-ed softball team to play on again, although when I last played adult softball, half the team was injured by mid-season, including myself. It’s hard for me to remember when I’m playing ball that I can’t just sprint all out, like I used to.
I played softball too, for fun, in both my grad school programs. At UT Austin, a bunch of friends got together and formed the Violent Flemmes. We rocked. At Warren Wilson College, I played for the MFA Prose team. I joked that my softball skills were the main reason the director, Peter Turchi, recruited me. But I never actually got to pitch, so maybe I really did get in for my writing skills.
Softball was my first true love, and it frees me to this day. Developing this world fictionally meant allowing myself to return to my childhood and to so many carefree girlfriend-fueled summers. My process entailed calling back a sense of innocence and play. I channeled all the awkward and complete power a girl has before, you know, she turns twelve or thirteen. In addition, I researched baseball like I never had before.
“Throwing Signs” is an excerpt from your novel, Outta Here! Would you tell us a bit more about the novel and your future plans for it?
CF: I started writing Teeny’s story during my first MFA semester, in 2006. It was a short story then, called Diamonds. I let it sit until one day in 2009, when I was in my car listening to NPR and they announced that Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas had died. They played his voice and I was right back in my grandmother’s living room, listening to those ball games with her over the radio. I cried. I knew I wasn’t finished with Diamonds. After graduation, I continued to revise the piece with a group of friends who told me, finally, “Chris, you’ll have to either cut half your subplots or write this thing out as a novel.”
I spent the next six years writing the novel. Outta Here! is Teeny’s coming-of-age in 1980. She’s starting to question male role models, and how single mothers and girls whose fathers leave, will make it. Softball, her grandmother and uncle, and girl power, set Teeny up to ride those sad tough waves through.
I’ve currently got a round of agent query letters out, with a few full reads. A writer/producer pair of cool dudes in Los Angeles is also considering it for a screenplay. When I do find the right fit for this book, I’m hoping the Phillies will get wind of it and invite me to throw the first pitch at one of their games. Seriously. I can pitch overhand!
“Throwing Signs” is set in the eighties. What have been the pleasures and pitfalls of writing about this era?
CF: There is only pleasure in writing about the eighties! We played albums and feathered our hair. What’s not to love?
Christine Fadden lives in the Pacific Northwest, but her heart is forever with the Philadelphia Phillies. “Throwing Signs” is an excerpt from her not yet published novel, Outta Here! Other excerpts appear in Hobart, More Than Sports Talk, Germ Magazine, and The American Literary Review. A chapter, “Little League Girls,” won the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival Fiction Prize in 2014 and appears in Louisiana Literature. Fadden is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She can pitch.