Interview With Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith

I reviewed Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith earlier this month.

But the Smiths were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedules to answer a few questions by email.

1. What first spawned the idea to use real-life people as characters in your mystery novel, Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery?

Jere: We thought about using fictional Red Sox players, to avoid the book quickly becoming obsolete, since players change teams so often these days. But then we realized how lame that would sound. We decided to just make the book take place in the year we were writing it. The fact that they ended up winning that year’s World Series kind of justified our idea. Suddenly we had a book about a world champion team–one that had less written about it than the 2004 team, which broke the 86-year drought.

2. How difficult was it to include the Red Sox players in the novel? Was there a particular process you had to go through to use their names?

Mary-Ann: The Red Sox players are in the public domain. You may fictionalize people with name recognition as long as you don’t slander them. Something we’d never do, naturally, as the Red Sox are our heroes.

3. You co-wrote this novel with your son. Did you share the writing duties or did one of you play more of a role than the other in writing each draft?

Mary-Ann: First, we brain-stormed a plot. We wanted to write about a real crime that was connected with Major League Baseball and came upon the story of the Arocha Pipeline, the name for a route used to smuggle ballplayers out of Cuba and into the United States. This is called human trafficking for profit, a crime dangerous to the players which puts Coast Guardsmen and FBI agents in grave danger. Once we had that down, we worked on how to mesh that plot with the 2007 Red Sox season. I wrote a majority of the mystery section, Jere wrote most of the blog, and then we revised each other’s work, back and forth until we both agreed on every line of the final draft. (Same way we did this Q & A.)

4. Could you describe your experience writing a novel with writing memoir? How were they similar and how were they different?

Mary-Ann: In writing a novel, the writer makes up plot and fictional characters out of thin air even though the basis for either might be an actual event or an actual person. Our DIRTY WATER Red Sox discovered an infant in the clubhouse at Fenway. The actual players did not. A memoir is simply the writer’s memory of people and events in his/her life.

If you want to hear more from Jere and Mary-Ann Smith, check out my D.C. Literature Examiner page.

Check out Jere’s Blog A Red Sox Fan From Pinstripe Territory and the book’s blog, Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery.