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article imageBestselling author Brian Meehl discusses new 'Blowback '07' book Special

By Markos Papadatos     Feb 19, 2021 in Lifestyle
Bestselling author Brian Meehl chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about his book "Blowback '07: When the Only Way Forward Is Back."
This book is a bestseller and it topped the Amazon charts. His award-winning books include a bestselling comedic riff on vampires, Suck It Up, Out of Patience (Junior Library Guild Selection), and You Don't Know About Me (Blue Ribbon from the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books).
Once upon a time, Brian worked for Jim Henson’s Muppets and puppeteered the gamut from a young pup, Barkley, on Sesame Street, to the Dying Master in Henson’s cult classic, The Dark Crystal. After taking up the pen, he wrote for kids’ shows like The Magic School Bus and Between the Lions, winning three Emmys along the way.
Your book “Blowback '07: When the Only Way Forward Is Back In” is the first book in the series, what inspired you to write this rather amazing story?
Blowback ’07 has a double origin story.
The first was a story (Pastime) I wrote about a Major League Baseball superstar who is riding for a fall. The fall comes when he’s sent back to 1944 and an era (World War II) when baseball was a different game, its players a different breed. Pastime sparked the notion of a contemporary athlete being sent back to a different era of his sport and having to “play his way home.”
The second inspiration was a non-fiction book I read about how, in 1907, a scrappy Native American football team, the Carlisle Indians, played—and beat—all the big Ivy League college teams by inventing the passing game and revolutionizing how football was played. (The Real All Americans by Sally Jenkins)
The “What if?” spark for Blowback ’07 was simple. I would send a hotshot high school quarterback, whose arrogance and misbehavior threatens to derail his future in football, back to 1907 and the Carlisle Indian School. Once in Carlisle, as he’s forced to relearn the game from the ground up, he falls in love with a Native American girl. Will he make a future for himself in the past or “play his way home”?
Writing a very successful series like this one is very different than writing one book, what has this experience been like for you? What were the challenges, and conversely what parts were the most fun?
I’ll start with the most fun. Being a history freak and loving to discover little-known events and fascinating people who have fallen through the cracks of history, I’m always in danger of never taking off my research hat and putting on my writing lid.
In fact, the discovery of the most bizarre performer of all time, a star of the Moulin Rouge in 1890s Paris, and my desire to put this unique and fascinating man (Le Pétomane) back on the stage of literature, is what inspired the setting of the climactic third book in the trilogy, Blowback ’94. (I’m sure having to go to Paris and Marseille, France for many weeks of research had nothing to do with it.)
The experience of writing a trilogy of novels—while keeping them all connected but also as stand-alone reads—has been a fantastic challenge that has been immensely rewarding. The challenge and fun of writing historical fiction was best summed up by another writer of historical fiction who said, “Where the facts end, the fiction begins.”
It’s that pivot from all the knowledge you’ve assembled to the wilds of imagination that makes storytelling a glorious plunge into a new frontier.
While writing the Blowback series, did you learn anything new about yourself?
I learned that I can write more than one book at once. Writing a trilogy requires a writer to be on the ground at all times with his characters in a particular book but also hovering at 30,000 feet to make sure all that ground activity is going to fit together in the horizon-to-horizon view of three books.
Downtime is very important for writers and artists, what are you doing when you aren’t writing?
When I hear “downtime,” I think of sleep. So, yes, I do a bit of that. I think of my waking downtime more as “re-creation,” you know, recharging the battery. Because writing is such an indoor activity, much of my re-creation takes place outdoors. I never tire of taking “a good walk spoiled” (as Twain described the game of golf). If I had more re-creation time, it would be spent reading, cooking, and gazing at clouds. That would be “uptime.”
Your series has really hit a chord with fans, who are very enthusiastic about your work. Do you have another book coming out you can tell us about?
After spending almost a decade researching, writing, and publishing the Blowback Trilogy, I’m taking a wee break from writing. But this writer can never stop researching, and there are a couple of subjects that have my attention as fodder for historical fiction.
One little-known story about the founding of our nation and the writing of our Constitution is how, in the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson became fascinated with how the Iroquois Confederacy and its Six Nations (all different tribes) had avoided war with each other for over 200 years. What Franklin and Jefferson discovered within the Iroquois Confederacy were basically three co-equal branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. Ring a bell? Why do we not know more about these “forgotten founding fathers”? On top of that, the Iroquois Confederacy was more matriarchal than patriarchal.
The other subject that has me digging deeper is a historical figure who plays a part in the third Blowback book set in Paris 1894. Jane Avril was the good friend of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and the iconic dancer he depicted in his art many times. After suffering a brutal childhood that landed her in an insane asylum, Avril’s adult life began literally as “a Cinderella story.” Her talent for dancing was discovered at a ball at the asylum. She went on to become a famous dancer and social phenome with steely independence and a rapacious hunger for knowledge. She was a feminist way ahead of her time. Her story deserves more ink.
If you want to know a bit more about Avril—and see her images—check out the brief blog I wrote on her, by clicking here.
Blowback '07: When the Only Way Forward Is Back (Blowback Trilogy Book 1) is available on Amazon.
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