As a member of Partners In Crime Tours, I am so excited to bring to you a guest post from Jen Estes, author of Curveball, a Cat McDaniel mystery. I'll be reviewing the book in a separate post later today and will also be giving away an eBook copy to one lucky winner, so be sure to check back in a few hours! First, Ms. Estes will be discussing the inspiration behind her baseball-themed mystery! Welcome!
I wish I could say that my inspiration comes from a mystical spirit guide or a chiseled, beefy muse, but the truth is my stories begin with the sports pages. Most of my ideas trickle out of real life scandals in baseball -- and that's a well that never dries up. (Usually, I can't write fast enough to keep up.) My newest book, Curveball, is no exception as my lead character, Cat McDaniel, travels down to Santo Domingo to cover the Latin American training camp for her New York team. There, she quickly finds out that baseball's dirty little secret has little to do with the diamond.
A couple of years ago, I read an exposé in TIME magazine wherein the Dominican Republic was coined "baseball's puppy mill." Most baseball fans know the island nation glorifies baseball and produces 20% of MLB players, but the driving force behind that is tragic. It's a country where little boys dream of climbing out poverty by making it big in baseball. Sadly, the article revealed, where there's dreams, there's exploitation. Sometimes, that abuse comes from a buscón (Spanish for searcher): a man who multitasks as a scout/agent/trainer and recruits the most talented kids on the island as early as 11 or 12 years old. They house, feed and clothe these boys training them from dawn to dusk, in hopes of getting them signed when they turn 16 (the minimum age for foreign players), at which point they claim 25 to 35 percent of the signing bonus. The competition is fierce -- only 2% of prospects will get a contract and desperation for success often leads to age fraud, drug abuse, malnutrition and, more often than not, disappointment. If the ballplayers aren’t signed, they're left with no education, no work skills and no knowledge of anything other than baseball -- in fact, many end up becoming buscónes themselves.
As a fun mystery, Curveball doesn't come with a "Based on a True Story" lead-in, but the exploitation was the driving force behind the story and helped me form the setting for my book. Curveball's characters and the events are fictional, but I do hope that it brings awareness to this very real issue.
To read an excerpt and see the complete list of participating blogs in this tour, please visit Partners In Crime Tours.
AUTHOR BIOBorn and raised in Illinois, Jen Estes started her writing career as a baseball blogger in 2007 and expanded to freelance sports writing in 2009. She is an active member of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), Springfield Poets & Writers and the National Writers Union (NWU). Curveball is the second in a series featuring sassy sports writer Cat McDaniel. When Jen isn’t writing, she enjoys running, yoga, traveling and watching baseball with her husband and cat.
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Every eBook received for review on the tours for Partners In Crime are given in exchange for an honest review. The eBooks are sole property (copyrighted) of the author and should not be sold, distributed to, or exchanged among other people not part of the tours, nor should they be listed on file sharing sites. Failure to comply with this disclaimer, will result in removal from all future tours.