Novelist

Inside ‘Quantum Physics,’ Part 1

Starting today and running Monday through Thursday for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing details from each of the 10 stories that make up my forthcoming collection of short fiction, Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure.

I’ll include backstory, excerpts, and other stories behind the stories.

We’ll start, appropriately, at the beginning.

SOMEBODY HAS TO LOSE

The backstory: By far the longest of the 10 stories, at about 13,000 words, this one began life as a novel-in-progress. It just never really progressed, at least not to that point. At about 15,000 words, I realized that the story — about a basketball team pinning its hopes on a singularly talented girl — would never measure up to the definitive basketball-in-Montana novel, Stanley Gordon West’s Blind Your Ponies, even though mine would have an entirely different trajectory. So I reined it in, did some surgery and came up with a devilish ending, the kind I like.

Here’s an excerpt:

As Paul ran through the offense, the whistle rarely left his mouth.

“Give me the ball,” he told Cash.

She fired a chest pass at him.

“Mendy, it’s like this.” He squared up to the basket, squeezing the ball between his hands and planting a pivot foot. “First option: jump shot.” Into the air he went, releasing the ball at the peak of his jump and watching it backspin softly into the net. Cash, her face red, gathered the ball and rifled it back to him. “Second option: drive.” Paul took two dribbles into the lane and then fell back to his spot on the periphery. “Third option: make the next pass.” He slung the ball to Victoria Ford, directly to his left on the wing. “You know better than to just throw the ball over without even looking.”

Paul turned to the players clumped on the sideline. “Shoot, drive, pass. When you get the ball in this offense, that’s the sequence. I don’t want anybody not following it, you got that?”

“Yes, sir,” the girls answered glumly.

“You get the ball. If the defender has collapsed into the middle, you shoot the open shot. If they’re crowding you, drive around them. If you’re covered, make the next pass. This is not difficult. Run it again.”

(Copyright © 2012 Craig Lancaster)

Dan Gensel

Trivia: The offensive style described in the snippet above came from my buddy (and best man) Dan Gensel, the former girls basketball coach at Soldotna (Alaska) High School. His philosophy was that too many coaches filled their players’ heads with so much minutiae that it paralyzed the girls’ freedom to take an open shot. The guy was one of the winningest coaches in the state for nearly 20 years, so I figure he knows what he’s talking about.

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Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure will be officially released on Dec. 6, 2011.

One Response

  1. Jim Thomsen

    Very cool! I like the part about Dan Gensel, too. A lot of fiction writers are notoriously lazy sods when it comes to research … often choosing instead to ape the jargon and rhythms of a niche subject and hoping they can skate by on it. So it’s heartening to see that you ran your character’s niche expertise past the eyes of a real-life expert.

    August 16, 2011 at 11:47 am