Author's Notes for Game Seven

I actually wrote this novel after seeing a photo of a green 1959 Buick sailing into Key West, Florida. The car/boat contained several Cuban refugees coming to America for their freedom. I was so taken with the photo, the excitement and electricity that it generated in me, that I decided to write the backstory of how these Cuban refugees arrived at that moment. I had always been touched by the stories of Cuban baseball players who had defected to the US and left their families behind. So I knew right away that I wanted at least one of them to be a baseball player, and perhaps an aspiring major leaguer. Only I was looking for a plot twist to that initial thought. Hence, Game Seven became not about who left Cuba, but who stayed behind. That was Julio Jr., who was 10 years old when his father–Cuba's great pitcher, donned El Fuego for his blazing fastball–defected without his family. I started to wonder what would happen if Julio Jr. became the island's best young shortstop by the time he was 16. Would Cuban officials put him on the Junior National traveling team playing games in other countries? Or would they be too worried that he'd defect like his father, giving them two black eyes? Then Julio would have to make the weighty choice whether to leave his mother and sister behind like his father did, or to remain in Cuba? I was able to come in contact with several people who made the dangerous 90-mile journey via the ocean, and that influenced the middle portion of the book when our protagonists are at sea, basically fighting the tide and the elements for their lives. The character Gabriel is loosely based on the angel Gabriel who blows his fabled horn. My Gabriel becomes sort of a guardian angel helping Julio Jr., his uncle and cousin complete their journey. And the Cuban bus driver Paolo (Paul), who helps the trio escape, is really me. Because, after all, I am the driver behind the wheel of this story. I also received help from lots of people who had recently been to Cuba to verify facts such as the availability of cell phones and the use of the internet there. For me, writing the book was an intensely satisfying journey, and I'm very proud of the end result. --Paul

Final Four

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