Welcome to chapter 23 of the book column. A new Young Adult novel, “Wildball” by Brian Engles, is hitting the market in April 2018.
“Wildball” is a mysterious and dramatic coming-of-age story about Shane Monoghan. Monoghan is a collegiate baseball player – one of the best. When the novel begins, he is on his way to a seaside sports league where he confronts demons from his athletic past.
Monoghan’s summer also includes mentoring young children and coping with his brother’s deployment to Iraq.
The league in the book was inspired by a real life collegiate league, the Cape Cod Baseball League, that is known for sending its players straight to the majors.
Baseball plays a large role in the story, and one of Engles' favorite parts of the book comes in the second chapter, when readers get to see Monoghan play for the first time. The book contains a plethora of game scenes, so sports fans can find lots to enjoy in “Wildball.”
The league was not the only aspect of the book that Engles created from personal knowledge, Engles said.
Throughout the story, Monoghan deals with the effects of a coach who perpetually bullied him when he was younger. Monoghan learns that this coach has passed away but has mixed emotions about the death, since the coach turned Monoghan into the player he is though treating him poorly along the way.
As a young film student at Boston University, Engles said he experienced a similar bullying from his bosses in Hollywood.
Engles said he did not realize how cutthroat the business could be. While writing some of Monoghan’s dialogue, Engles said he felt physically ill because of how similar it was to his own situation. Writing about Monoghan’s fictional experience helped him cope with his own memories.
“One of the strengths of 'Wildball' is that it tries to tackle some relevant issues like toxic masculinity and bullying," Engles said.
Outside of writing “Wildball,” Engles works as a student writing tutor, loves music and occasionally presents some of his own documentary work to teenagers on the East Coast.
He graduated from Boston University where he earned a degree in Film and Television. Though Engles did not attend IU for his college career, he still has ties to campus.
In 2012, during a study abroad trip in Dublin, Engle’s roommate, Donnie Gardner, was an IU student. Donnie worked on the design team for the IDS his senior year and told Engles all about IU and Bloomington.
Despite a few trips to visit Donnie in Chicago, where he moved after graduating from IU in 2013, Engles has never seen Bloomington for himself.
“I'm planning a tour for the book this spring so we'll see if it takes me to the Midwest,” said Engles.
Students can pick up Engles new book, “Wildball," in April.
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