Interview of Will Shingleton on his new book Seamless Transition
Seamless Transition is a work of fiction centered around the football program in Birmingham, Alabama located at the fictional Birmingham State University.
1. What type of fictional story is Seamless Transition? How so?
Seamless Transition is a story about sports in the same way that a show like Ted Lasso is, which is a round about way to say that it actually isn’t!The story takes place within the context of a sports team, sure, and all 1 the trappings of the sport are there, but the story isn’t about college football. It’s about power dynamics and how they change based on people’s perceptions, and in that way, it’s more of a contemporary/political book than a football one.
2.Why did you choose to write the book this way?
I had a really hard time figuring out how to frame the story I wanted to tell. It didn’t seem like a good fit for a traditional first or third person POV, but after watching The Last Dance, ESPN’s documentary about the Chicago Bulls’ dynasty in the 90’s, I knew how I wanted to write it.
3. Early in our conversation you called Seamless Transition a “bokumentary”, what did you mean?
The book is almost exclusively told through dialogue in the form of interviews, like a traditional documentary movie would be. There are newspaper and online articles interspersed between the interview sections, but the idea was to keep it as much dialogue as possible. I was completely enthralled by The Last Dance, and how it managed to hold my attention for that many hours without even having a narrator. Firasst-person accounts are a powerful tool for storytelling even if, like in the case of my book, they’re fictional.
4. What inspired you to write this book? Do you have an example?
There are two main things that inspired this book: the first is a phenomenon that happened mulitple times in college football around the late 2000’s, when this book is set. Programs like Florida State and Texas had coaches who had been wildly successful but were getting older, and would be really difficult to replace. They also both had assistant coaches ( Jimbo Fisher and Will Muschamp, respectively) who were very highly thought of. So, to try and make sure they had as little drop-off from their legendary coaches as possible, and to keep their assistants from being hired away to other schools, they named them their “coaches-in-waiting”. It was a sort of in-between step that, in theory, would have made everyone happy going forward, but it rarely worked out that way. The second inspiration was NBC’s treatment of Conan O’Brien around the same time. There are way too many twists and turns in this story to discuss it fully, but the short version is that Connan was promised the chance to take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno, only to have NBC force him out after a few months because of “low ratings”. I don’t use this term lightly, but it was a debacle, and was the biggest inspiration for my story turning out the way it did.
5.Would you consider writing about sports again? Why?
Yes! Every story I’ve written so far has some sort of sports angle, even if it isn’t in the direct setting like this one. To me, it’s a literary landscape that hasn’t been explored nearly as much as it should be. Sport have so much storytelling potential if you know where to look.
6.Are you a sports fan? If so, what sports do you like?
I love sports. I grew up going to dozens of sporting events with my dad for his job, and I just sort of got steeped in all the lore. I grew up in Alabama, so being a football fan was sort of unavoidable. My favorite sport is probably soccer, but I’m also a huge Atlanta Braves baseball fan
7. Why did you choose to write a fictional book over a nonfiction book about sports?
Through doing it as a fiction book, I saw an opportunity to synthesize the themes from multiple real-life events into one story, and to do it in a way that those themes came through a little more directly. There are a lot of non-fiction elements in the book, but doing it this way gave me more flexibility with what I wanted to say. Plus, there just aren’t that many sports fiction books out there.
8. What do you hope readers will gain from Seamless Transition?
I hope they take a deeper look into how they reactto sports figures. Athletes and coaches tend to have their profession and their humanity separated into two different categories, and I hope this book helps blur that line a little.
9. Have you started working on your next book? Does it have a theme or title yet?
Yes!I have two more books written that I’m trying to find homes for. The first is actually a sequel of sorts to Seamless Transition; it’s young adult book about a young man who discovers the recruiting scandal that starts Seamless Transition’s story. The second is a book about a recent college graduate living at home with his parents and using English soccer as a way to cope while he tries to find a job. Hopefully, they’ll get to make their debuts someday too.
10. Have you written any other books my readersshould know about?
11.When will Seamless Transition be released?
August 1, 2021. Just in time for football season
12. Can you preorder the book? when and where?
Yes! It’s available for pre-order now on Amazon, Kub and pretty much everywhere else books are sold.
13 A.What formats will the book be available in? (ebook, kindle, hardback)
All of the above!