Behind the Books:
Intent to Kill
"Babes in Baseball"
© Copyright James Grippando 2009. All rights reserved.
Intent to Kill is a special book for me because the story has percolated in my mind for years. Eventually it shaped itself into the story of a rising baseball star who’s married to the perfect wife—until a tragic accident changes everything. I love baseball, and I’m married to the perfect wife, so much of the research was fun and easy. As a writer, however, I always like to challenge myself, and I especially enjoyed the character of "Babes," a young man with an autism-related disorder.
The character "Babes" in Intent to Kill is based on a real person who I had a special connection with. When I was growing up in Illinois, my godfather and his family were the Grippando family’s closest friends. A young man who everyone called "Junior" lived with them (my godfather’s brother in law). As a boy, of course, I didn’t understand Junior’s condition, but I remember him as a kind and gentle soul who acted more like a child than an adult. Junior was a huge baseball fan, but his poor motor skills meant that he never played sports. He was purely a spectator—and a wealth of baseball trivia. He came to all the Little League games when I was growing up, and we were very fond of him. When I went on to high school, he watched those games, too. Almost inevitably, the high-school kids started to make fun of the grown man who never went anywhere without a baseball mitt and baseball cap, and who wore "high-water pants" that were hemmed way too high above the ankle. The teasing became unbearable, and Junior finally stopped coming.
The next season, I was on the track team, not baseball, but I walked by the baseball field every day on my way to practice. It seemed weird without Junior. As the season wore on, however, I saw Junior return to the stands. Even though some of the jerks still made fun of him, he ignored them. Whenever the home team came up to bat, he would cheer and shout, "Come on Baaabe," or "Let’s go Baaabe." People started calling him "Babes"—though most of them were still snickering behind his back. But he kept coming. One day I was walking toward the track for practice, and the baseball team was playing an important game against a huge conference rival. I didn’t see Babes in the stands. Sadly, I thought maybe all the teasing had finally gotten to him. Then I heard his cheer—"Let’s go Baaaabe"—and I looked across the field. He was on the team’s bench! They had adopted him as their own and invited him to sit with the players. From then on, he was known as "Babes"—with affection, not derision. No sports team ever had a more loyal fan.
Babes is part of an engaging cast of characters in a fast-paced story that I hope will bring you hours of thrills.
INTENT TO KILL: HarperCollins Publishers © 2009 Behind the Writing of the Novel: Copyright 2009 James Grippando