Hardball makes deep connections with readers

Posted on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 9:42 am

Weddle, above, at a recent book signing for his widely acclaimed novel Country Hardball, on shelves now.

Weddle, above, at a recent book signing for his widely acclaimed novel Country Hardball, on shelves now.

When Steve Weddle’s novel “Country Hardball” hit the bookstands on Monday, Nov. 18, it was a date that served a dual purpose. It marked the beginning of Weddle’s career as a published novelist, but the end of a long journey of reflection and perspiration.

“People ask me how long it took to write, and I tell them that we sold the book when I was 42, so it took me 42 years to write,” Weddle said.

Weddle, who currently serves as publisher of The Central Virginian, said he took inspiration from the tales he heard as a youngster growing up on the Arkansas/Louisiana border to create his latest novel.

Set in a location at the heart of rural America that closely resembles that of Weddle’s own childhood hometown, “Country Hardball” is a collection of 20 short stories that interweave to tell the struggles of the story’s main character, Roy Alison.

After Alison’s transgressions cause a car accident that leaves his parents dead, the book’s proceeding narratives describe Alison’s feelings of growth, guilt and remorse as he interacts with a variety of characters that have been weathered by hard times and tumultuous lives.

The conglomeration of short stories is a contrasting style to that of three previous novels Weddle completed in the past six years, and he felt that the change in approach may be part of the reason for the book’s success at connecting with readers.

“The other three are straightforward novels, but this one is more of a collection of stories that kind of comes together,” Weddle said. “I could handle it in pieces … In that sense this was a much smaller, more intimate undertaking because it was done in fragments.”

-To read the full story, pick up a copy of the December 4 issue of the Northumberland Echo, on stands now!

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