Long-time Somers resident and author of “Boycott the Yankees,” Mike DeLucia, has come out with another book again capturing the drama of the sports world.
Following the early life and early career of a forgotten basketball legend, DeLucia’s newest book reels in its audience with both fact and fiction of the long buried life of revolutionary basketball player, Hank Luisetti.
We caught up with this local author and asked him a few questions regarding his newest novel:
This was a multiple year long process, how did your research develop and change over the years and how much time did you dedicate?
Ninety-five percent of my research was done pre Internet at the big library in Manhattan. This story is a historical fiction novel based on Hank Luisetti’s accomplishments and contributions to the game, so that part didn’t change much. The fictional part grew and changed over the years as I tossed the story around in my head. Since this began as a screenplay, I added much more depth to the novel since there’s a narrator and we could get more into Luisetti’s mind. Screenplays cannot be more than 120 pages, so there are restrictions. The beauty of a novel is that you are free to write what you feel... one reason why the book is often better than the film.
Your father had suggested Hank Luisetti, but what made you ultimately decide to write about him?
The very cool thing about Luisetti is that he’s a forgotten piece of American sports history... and a really big piece too; he laid the foundation for March Madness and the NBA. No other player in history can make that claim. Before Luisetti, basketball was a school sport like lacrosse is today. He put the juice in the game. Once people saw him play in that historic game at Madison Square Garden, basketball was never the same. He started a basketball revolution, which created a fan base. With a fan base comes money and the pro league. He was fifty years ahead of his time. During a time when total scores of basketball were thirty points, he holds the record as the first person to score fifty points in a game. His story is incredible. People are fascinated with it.
Did you ever play basketball?
Yes, I had a hoop in my yard and played at the park and in elementary school. Once I got to high school, I had gravitated more towards the arts.
How strong of a role did basketball play in your life?
Not much. It was just for fun. I didn’t write about Luisetti because I loved basketball, it is his life that interested me. This isn’t really a “sports” book as much as it’s a story about a person who played basketball. I see it like the film Rocky which isn’t as much about boxing as it is about overcoming obstacles, growth, family, and finding love.
How does Hank Luisetti inspire you? In what ways do you want him to inspire others?
This book is about following one’s heart, discovering one’s true potential, and achieving one’s dreams. Our dreams often collide with family expectations, but one can only find out one’s center by taking risks, even if those risks create difficult challenges, challenges which are often emotionally painful. There are beneficial lessons to be learned in Luisetti’s story.
Why did you title it MADNESS? What does that title mean to you?
Hank Luisetti was a student from Stanford University and when a promoter from New York put the best team in the east against the best team in the west, March Madness was born. There were other east west showdowns, but Luisetti threw down the gasoline and set the place on fire. The first time he played there he was named most outstanding athlete to perform at MSG in 1936. That’s a huge honor to bestow upon a visiting player. LIU at the time were considered the greatest basketball team of all time, as they were riding a 43 game winning streak. They were supposed to destroy Stanford, but they didn’t count on Luisetti. It wasn’t a fluke because Stanford beat them again the following year. Stanford was the first unofficial national champions and March Madness became official the year after Luisetti graduated.
Are you currently working on anything new?
Yes, but besides the outline, I haven’t actually began chapter one. I haven’t figured out all of the details but I’m close. I should start this summer. It’s my fourth book in the sports genre, but then I’m moving on to other genres. I have sketches of several stories outlined in my mind. When I retire I’ll write full time. It’s a challenge working a full time job as a high school English teacher and write books. It’s a lot of sacrifice. I watch no television or listen to radio or do anything other than work, family, friends, life duties, and writing. My day begins at 3:45 a.m. every day. That includes days off, summers, and holidays. I even write when I’m on vacation.
Have you ever considered writing an entirely fictional book or do you prefer historical fiction?
The next one is fiction and then back to historical fiction, and then back to fiction... That’s the plan anyway.
What was your favorite part to write?
The love story between Hank and Connie.
I understand the process of writing this book was a long and difficult one, what was the absolute hardest part to write?
It wasn’t the book that was hard—life kept getting in the way. Marriage, a home, a business, and children have a way of zapping one’s time and energy. I would write when I could. There were times when I didn’t look at the story for years.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice in regard to writing this book, what would it be?
I can’t think of anything I would do differently. Even though it was on the bottom of my to do list, it was always floating around in my head. I just kept trying and didn’t stop until I completed it. I’m so proud to reintroduce Hank Luisetti to the world. I’m also looking for anyone interested in opening the doors to make it into a film. I have some interest now, but again, I won’t stop until I see it on the big screen. Stay tuned!
To purchase the book, search “Mike DeLucia Madness” on Amazon or visit booksbymikedelucia.com or eBay where autographed copies are available. If anyone would like to do a book signing at an event or organization, contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.