April 17, 2013

Author Interivew: T. Glen Coughlin Author of One Shot Away +GIVEAWAY

I have the honor of hosting T. Glen Coughlin author of One Shot Away.  
He is on a blog tour hosted by Kismet Book Tours.  I was lucky enough to be able to participate   As an English teacher I'm constantly looking for "boy" books, and when I saw this one I was very excited.   Especially when I saw it was about wrestling.  Wrestling is huge in my school district!

A bit about the book

It’s senior year and the last season for Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor on the Molly Pitcher High School varsity wrestling team. And they all want the same thing: to win.
But Diggy’s got to compete with his older brother’s legacy, and now he’s in danger of losing his spot to newcomer Trevor. Jimmy’s got the cops after him, and a girlfriend who looks down on him. Then Diggy does the unthinkable—he betrays a teammate. Can the team forgive him? And can he forgive himself?
Experience the pressure with Diggy, Jimmy, and Trevor as the stakes rise and loyalties splinter. They’ve got just one shot to make weight and get onto the mat. But pinning your opponent is about more than just winning.

About T. Glen Coughlin - Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Coughlin’s first novel, The Hero of New York, was finished when he was 23 years old and explored the dark side of the middle class suburban dream. New York Times reviewer, Dennis Smith (1986) wrote, “The Hero of New York is solid tough-guy entertainment, and Mr. Coughlin’s descriptions can be hilarious.”
Coughlin’s second novel, Steady Eddie, is a coming-of-age story set in Long Island, New York in 1977. George Needham wrote “Coughlin neatly captures a person’s essence in the simplest gesture, but each character is drawn with sympathy and wit, even when the characters themselves lack these attributes. A fine novel.”

Coughlin has published short stories in Doubletake Magazine, the South Dakota Review[3] and DUCTS, an on-line magazine. His story, “The Grief Committee” was analyzed in The Politics of Mourning: Grief Management in a Cross-Cultural Fiction.[5] Coughlin”s poetry has appeared in The Dead Mule – School of Southern Literature and Hanging Moss Journal.
In 2012, Coughlin published his first YA novel, One Shot Away, A Wrestling Story, Harpercollins. The novel is the story of three high school wrestlers trying to balance their personal lives, family conflicts and maintain their weight class on the Varsity Squad.

Wecome T. Glen Coughlin to The O.W.L.!!

First lets start with the easy questions

What Point of View -1st or 3rd:
One Shot Away is told in the 3rd person from three different POVs: Trevor Crow, Diggy Masters and Jimmy O’Shea.  This writing style is a departure from my first two novels, which were told in the first person.  This is my first YA novel, although the other two were both coming of age novels.

Boy or Girl main character (or both!):
The novel has three main characters, all boys, and two minor girl characters, Jane and Roxanne. 

One Shot Away is a YA sports related coming-of-age novel.

Middle Grade or Young Adult:  
The novel is more appropriate for a YA reader.  The story line is a little edgy.  The hardships and drama take a look at the serious side of competition, which can sometimes turn ugly.

More boy or girl book (stereotypically):  
I was a bit surprised to learn that One Shot Away appeals to both boys and girls.  Obviously, it has an appeal to anyone involved in the sport of wrestling (yes, girls are now wrestling!).  The novel tells the story of three high school wrestlers living in the same community, but going through the insecurity of high school, a desire for acceptance, the emotional confusion of first relationships, and the pride of achievement.  I know girls can relate to these issues.

The Serious Questions!

For One Shot Away what part/character/event are you most excited/proud about?
I am most proud of the end of the novel, as I didn’t sell out and make it a 100 percent “feel good” ending.  My second novel, Steady Eddie, was criticized for having an ending where the two main characters sort of sailed happily into the sunset.  In One Shot Away, I had many choices to make.  I could have had Diggy, my most controversial character, get forgiven for all the havoc he caused.  He could have wound up a success story (I don’t want to give away the ending here).  But, I chose to tell the story with integrity and truth.  I wanted my readers to learn that acts have consequences.  Jimmy and Trevor are my success stories, which bring an abundance of light to the book.  Diggy, although I do love him, had to pay some dues.

One Shot Away is a book for guys.  One struggle I have as a middle school teacher is getting my boys to read more, so I’m glad to see books like yours.  Can you talk about writing for “the guys” and in particular how this story will interest them? 
From the first page, One Shot Away is filled with conflict that propels the action.  It’s a book where things happen and it’s not always what the reader expects.  The main characters, Trevor, Jimmy and Diggy, have interesting dilemmas.  Each goes about solving their problems in different ways.  Dialogue and all of the slang in the novel was basically pulled from real teens.  The dialogue is snappy and real and boys will enjoy the exchanges.  Lastly, the plot of the novel is more than just wrestling.  It’s about the team concept.  It’s about learning to respect a girlfriend.  It’s about discrimination and overcoming hurtful words and bullies.  Lastly, this novel is a fun read.

Tell about your writing process.  How long did it take you to write One Shot Away from idea to finish?  Please tell about revision if you can!
Good question, as I’m sure there are many potential writers who might read the book.  Start to finish, the writing took about four years.  I know that’s a long time, but I write on weekends and vacation days, as I work a full time job.  I like to develop my characters before I even know my story.  At the beginning of One Shot Away, I put Trevor Crow into motion.  I am a big believer in knowing your character’s back-story.  For instance, I wrote one hundred pages of back-story regarding Trevor’s father’s heritage as a Penobscot Native American. 

At one point, One Shot Away ballooned to 440 pages!  I had to cut it in half in order to increase the tension.  Cutting is tough, but necessary for most writers.  I know writers who fall in love with their own words and are unable to cut.  I try to think of my reader.  What will make the reader stay up late turning the pages? 

My second character developed was Jimmy O’Shea.  I wrote about his house, his room, what he ate.  I gave him a girlfriend, Roxanne.  I wrote a short story about Jimmy leading his wrestling team in practice.  Next, I did the same for Diggy Masters.

Then, I introduced conflict through the plot.  In Trevor’s case, he is facing the loss of his father, and the need to fulfill his father’s vision of being a varsity wrester.  Jimmy’s father leads him down a dangerous path.  Diggy makes his own trouble with poor choices.   
Fine tuning the plot was the hardest part of finishing the novel.  I needed it to be exciting, believable, and compelling, but also have the reader feel like they entered the character’s world.  The plot must carry one chapter into the next.  I wrote about twenty drafts of this novel (I’m not exaggerating).  I would finish it, print it, read it, and then rewrite.  It sounds like a lot of work; lucky for me I love the entire process of creating a novel.

When you were in middle school what kind of student were you?  Did you write then?
I was a mediocre student.  Report card day was always rough.  I’d line up behind my three sisters, who had A’s and B’s.  I never failed, but an A was as rare as steak at the hot lunch menu.  Most of the time, I scraped by with a C or a B-.  By the time I went to high school, I was scheduled into a lot of shop classes.  I worked on cars, built cabinets, learned to weld metals.  In ninth grade English, my teacher assigned Catcher in the Rye.  I read it in two days (it was a half-year study).  She began sneaking me novels by John Steinbeck, S.E Hinton, Claude Brown, Harper Lee and lots more.  I realized I loved to read. 

In the tenth grade, I joined a meat cutter’s union and worked 4 pm to 10 pm weekdays, and 8 am to 8 pm on Saturdays, cutting chickens.  I didn’t have time for sports or much of anything, except work.  After I cleaned the butcher shop at night, scraped all the cutting blocks and put down sawdust, I’d read in the break room.  In my second novel, Steady Eddie, I wrote about my teen life, and was able to get some of it out of my system.

In the eleventh grade, my English teacher assigned the class a writing assignment; a two page fictional story.  I remember writing about the end of the world.  She liked it and read it to the class.  I don’t think anyone ever told me I was good at anything, until that story.  I began to believe that I could write a novel.  I started carrying a notebook.  I wrote scenes in the meat department break room that eventually evolved into The Hero of New York.  I finished the novel about five years later.  It was published when I was twenty-six.

And because it's the owl, my standard question always is: WHOOO do you admire when it comes to writing? OR WHOOO do you like to read or really enjoyed in HS or middle school?
In high school I enjoyed many YA novels that are now considered must reads.  I read To Kill a Mocking Bird and loved it.  I read all of John Steinbeck’s novels, my favorite being Of Mice and Men.  I enjoyed S. E. Hinton’s novels, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish and That was Then, This is Now.  I loved, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, everything by Ray Bradbury, Jack London, John Knowles, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Today, I read a lot of adult fiction, but also enjoy YA novels.  Lately, I have enjoyed The Giver, by Lois Lowry, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie, Bird Nerd, by Tracy Edward Wymer, the novels of Terry Trueman, and The Fault in our Stars, by John Green.
Presently I’m reading Ghosts of War, a true story by Ryan Smithson.  It’s a terrific YA novel of a 19-year old GI sent to Iraq.

One novel that really changed my idea of fiction was The Wanderers, by Richard Price.  I read it when I was a senior in high school.  It breaks a lot of rules.

The Fun Questions! (based on what middle school students do!)

Do you chew gum? 
Yes, I chew Wrigley’s “Solstice” –“A warm and cool winter.”  Sugar-free – 15 to a pack. Try it!

Do you text?
Yes, I do text and I carry a blackberry.  My son and daughter are text nuts.

Was school lunch just as yucky then as it is now?!  
My mother wasn’t one to “pack a lunch.”  It was hot lunch or no lunch.  School lunch was a completely sad affair from 1st to 8th grade.  The food was just terrible, watery tomato soup and wet PBJ’s, Sloppy Joe’s with unidentifiable red meat that smelled like four day old barbeque grease.  Chinese night was cream of chicken chow mein!!!  The cream grossed us out.  Oh it was just the worst.  I used to starve and save my lunch money.  I’d buy a sandwich at a deli around the corner about once a week.    

Thank you so much for joining us here on The O.W.L.  I will be sharing with my students how many drafts you wrote!  They  need to hear things like that.  Plus that you're reading Ghosts of War.  I have it, and a few students have picked it up to read as well.

Stay tuned for my review of the book coming up later!

The Giveaway!
Up for grabs is a Kindle Paperwhite skinned in the One Shot Away cover art!

To enter fill out the rafflecopter.
And check out the rest of the stops on the tour!

Author Links: Twitter Facebook Goodreads 
Tour Schedule: 
Monday, April 8th - Mundie Moms 
Tuesday, April 9th - Froggarita's Bookcase 
Wednesday, April 10th - Alice Marvels 
Thursday, April 11th - Chick Loves Lit 
Friday, April 12th - Simply Infatuated 
 Monday, April 15th - I Like These Books 
Tuesday, April 16th - Sweet Southern Home 
Wednesday, April 17th - The O.W.L. for YA 
Thursday, April 18th - Basia's Bookshelf 
Friday, April 19th - Chapter by Chapter 
 Monday, April 22nd - The Book Cellar 
Tuesday, April 23rd - Contessa at the Crossroads 
Wednesday, April 24th - The Bookswarm 
Thursday, April 25th - Buried in Books 
Friday, April 26th - The Page Turners


  1. Thanks for the review and the interview. The giveaway is fantastic! Thanks for the chance on this one.

  2. Quite honestly, the storyline itself resonates with me. I may be female and I may not be a wrestler or even have any association with wrestling whatsoever, but I do have experience with other team sports as a teen and I know how important of an experience being part of a sports team can be and I am interested in reading about this coming-of-age story from a guy's point of view.