Guest Post…Best Buddies International

To compliment Frank’s guest post today, we’re featuring news about a charitable endeavour he’s taking part in. 

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Frank Nappi, the author of “The Legend of Mickey Tussler” and “Sophomore Campaign,” is donating part of the proceeds from the books to Best Buddies International.
In a blog, Nappi said, “In an effort to support greater autism advocacy and awareness, I am pleased to announce that with the sale of each paperback copy of The Legend of Mickey Tussler or Sophomore Campaign between Friday, July 6 and Friday, July 27 on Amazon.com, I will donate a portion of the proceeds to Best Buddies International – a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The Mickey Tussler series chronicles the coming of age of a young pitching phenom with autism on a minor league baseball team during the 1940s.
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website:  www.franknappi.com

Guest Post…50 Shades of Censorship

Author Frank Nappi joins us again at Aside from Writing  as we re-post another piece from his own Goodreads blog. 

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So public libraries in several states across the country have made the decision to pull the “50 Shades of Grey trilogy” from their shelves – and other libraries have decided not to order it at all. Not too long ago the Hunger Games trilogy experienced a similar fate – violence was the prevalent issue with this series. Some libraries have suggested the 50 Shades trilogy is too steamy and better yet others have suggested it is poorly written – paying no mind that “50 Shades” has become a best-selling worldwide phenomenon that has catapulted author E.L. James from relative unknown to superstardom. Shouldn’t libraries stock what people want to read? And these libraries are clearly saying they have the power to decide what people read. As library use dwindles with the continued growth of E-readers, Ipads, and online retailers like Amazon, the American Library Association should be encouraging libraries to appeal to a greater audience. While I myself have not read the books, and have heard from friends that the writing would not meet my standard for eloquent prose, there is no escaping the fact that EVERYONE is talking about this series….a trilogy that was borne of Twilight fanfiction originally. While I myself was not a fan of the equally popular Twilight series nor the vampire genre as a whole, as an English teacher I would be lying if I didn’t say that the fact that so many students were walking around the building with one of the books in hand didn’t make me smile. It made kids (ok…mostly girls) excited about reading and that was endorsement enough for me.

But of even greater importance is that this is censorship and censorship is dangerous. When do we stop? Where do we draw the line? And who makes that decision? There are many books that currently sit on library shelves with “questionable” content and even more books that are taught in high schools across the country that someone somewhere would find questionable. The same libraries that refuse to shelve “50 Shades” offer their patrons Lolita by Nabokov – one of the most controversial examples of 20th century literature; however that book also made the World Library’s list of 100 best books of all time. So what standard is being followed? Should we remove Macbeth from our curriculum because of the violence and witchcraft? Who decides what is appropriate?

Sanitized stories rarely have anything to offer – it is the more complex and controversial themes that stir us – it is often the evocative that challenges our thinking and our perceptions and makes us question ourselves. These are the books worth reading – these are the experiences worth having. It is why ironically the list of the most popular banned books in schools contains some of the greatest in the literary cannon – Of Mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I am by no means comparing “50 Shades” or Twilight, or the Hunger Games to any of the aforementioned – but as a teacher and as an author I can’t agree with the banning or censoring of books in either schools or libraries. Even the American Library Association in its Freedom to Read statement focuses on the freedom to read as guaranteed by the Constitution and affirms that it is in the public interest for librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority (so there seems to be some hypocrisy or at least contradiction in this latest library ban).

The Freedom to Read statement from the ALA goes on to say:

The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them…Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated……The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

I recently had the “how much do I sanitize issue” with my own book, Sophomore Campaign. Much like the controversy surrounding the book Ernest Hemingway pronounced as the source of all modern American literature – Huckleberry Finn (and led to the recent rerelease where all uses of the “N” word was replaced with the word slave) – I had used the “N” word to showcase the rampant racism that was typical for my novel’s setting. Not everyone who worked with me to publish the book felt that its use was necessary or even appropriate. I had to decide what made sense for my audience. This of course was more an issue of political correctness rather than censorship, but still stirred up in me some of the same emotions connected to the issues I raise here.

And in the end, the romance between a college student and a manipulative billionaire may or may not be your thing – and perhaps you would prefer to read the newly released version of “Huck” or you would defend the original to the end – but nevertheless the library ban of this popular trilogy should offend you as an author, a reader, and as a lover of the written word – I can think of “50” reasons why.

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About the Author

Author – Frank Nappi

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA’s silver medal for outstanding fiction for 2006. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a screenplay adaptation of the touching story which aired nationwide in the fall of 2011 (A Mile in His Shoes starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder). Frank continues to produce quality work, including The Legend of Mickey Tussler: Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.

(This was originally published 10th May, 2012).

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Links for both of Frank’s Tussler books as well as the amazon link for the movie that was adapted from the first book:
The Legend of Mickey Tussler
Sophomore Campaign
A Mile in His Shoes
website:  www.franknappi.com

Guest Post…When a Novel Becomes a Film – An Author’s Perspective

I came across this post a few weeks ago on author Frank Nappi’s Goodreads blog and he kindly agreed to share it with us here. As an author who regularly answers questions about ‘who would play your characters in a film of the book’, I know that having your novel become a film is another facet of writing that many authors dream of. But what actually happens when that dream comes true? Frank shares his experience here….

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Many books are optioned each year for development by the film industry, setting off a conflagration of thoughts and emotions within those most closely tied to those books. When my novel “The Legend of Mickey Tussler” was optioned by Eye in The Sky Entertainment back in 2008, I was thrilled beyond words. Soon, however, I found myself languishing in the uncertainty that attenuates every step of the process. The potential pitfalls are many…who will be hired to do the screenwriting? Will there be enough financial backing to bring the project to fruition? Are there any industry experts out there who want to take a chance on directing? And what about casting? And do I really have to change the name of the story???

All of these issues, and an array of others germane to film production, took about three years to rectify.

Then the fun really started……

Every author realizes the “price” he/she pays for selling rights to a story — while it is certainly flattering to have someone compensate you for the opportunity to bring your story to life on the screen, in doing so, you abdicate your ability to guide the production and preserve the integrity of “your” story as you saw it from the beginning. As I was told on numerous occasions, “Uh Frank, this is no longer your story.” That was a tough one to swallow. Consequently, characters are altered or in some cases deleted, scenes are shortened or cut, and setting falls victim to the pragmatic reality that there is a very real budget which must be honored.

So you have these conversations, and most often you cringe, knowing full well that “your story” works best as is. Still, you are appreciative that this amazing opportunity has happened for you, and you certainly do not want to appear ungrateful. So many options never make it into production.

Time unfolds, and the film is shot. Eventually, you get to see what these folks have done with your story. You hold your breath as you view the “new version” of your creation, praying that they have maintained most of what you had intended in writing it…..

And if you are lucky, as I have been, you smile at the portrayal of your central characters and breathe a little easier as the music and cinematography add a whole new dimension to your tale. Yes, you still harbor disappointment somewhere deep within that your story has been altered in some ways that you know have a deleterious effect on the product (in my case, The Legend of Mickey Tussler was set in the 1940’s but “A Mile in His Shoes”was filmed as a present day story) but you cannot help but watch with surreal detachment as your words come to life for all to see.

So my overall experience with watching The Legend of Mickey Tussler become “A Mile in His Shoes” was favorable. If I can offer any advice to authors who have just had a novel optioned, it would be to pace yourself…and realize that while you are in for some rather taxing moments replete with all sorts of anxiety, in the end, the film credit is something that you will never forget.

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About the Author

Author - Frank Nappi

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA’s silver medal for outstanding fiction for 2006. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a screenplay adaptation of the touching story which aired nationwide in the fall of 2011 (A Mile in His Shoes starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder). Frank continues to produce quality work, including The Legend of Mickey Tussler: Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story, and is presently at work on a third installment of the unique series. Frank lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.

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Want to know more? Check out the links!

Links for both of Frank’s Tussler books as well as the amazon link for the movie that was adapted from the first book (the subject of today’s blog post):
The Legend of Mickey Tussler
Sophomore Campaign
A Mile in His Shoes
website:  www.franknappi.com