Bill Moor interviewed and listened to regular people and sports stars, wrote about them, and edited other reporters’ stories about them for 48 years at the South Bend Tribune. It was often sports, then human interest and beat reporting. From there, old habits are hard to break. Face it, he probably still has a spare notebook in the car.
Bill put some time into creating a few new characters and a new story. He recently published a coming-of-age novel called “Kissing the Frog.”
Namely News:South Bend native Zorina Frey picked for Pushcart Prize anthology
The young adult book is set in today’s world with touches of nostalgia. A bit of the simpler days for the 1960s, he said, when he was growing up. It has everything — South Bend, Clay High School, sports, first love, blended families, bullies and a soda shop that just might be a Bonnie Doon.
The main character is Billy Ray Rogers, who goes by the nickname “Spanky.” Our hero is a wrestler who is always bested by fellow wrestler and stepsister Wheat. Wheat has talent and keeps her stepbrother from falling on his face. She is the steady hand. However, she can’t stop the goofy comments and situations, which is high school at its best.
However, the other side of life in high school is love. Spanky is infatuated with the mayor’s daughter, Laurie. Laurie is prom court material and Spanky is wrestling mat.
It is three weeks in the life of Spanky during the cold days of wrestling season and the winter formal. Bill is hopes young adults will identify with the characters and the situations. For older readers, the walk down memory lane will be sweet. “I think people will find joy.”
Bill said the title comes from Spanky’s uncertainty about life and girls. “Will he be a frog or Prince Charming? Spanky has a low opinion of himself. But he is cooler than me.”
Bill said he had spare time during COVID and he began to play with the idea. “It wasn’t a story I cooked up over the years. I started it and let the story go. I’m not one of those writers who has 3-by-5 cards posted with the plot and subplots, character traits. I let it unfold.”
The characters and hijinks are also somewhat a product of Bill’s life. “Some of the characters are based on friends” but not directly. “It draws on my life and my friends.”
He also mentioned that his nickname in his younger days was Spanky. “My wife, Margaret, points out the (shared) name. But that wasn’t my objective. It isn’t me. Remember, Spanky is cooler than me.”
Although Spanky may not be Bill, like his creator, he’s a Cubs fan.
Bill said his friend and fellow writer, Aaron Helmen, gave him tips and pointers on publishing and gently pushed him to complete the work.
The chapters of the book were posted on Bill’s blog Moorandmore.net. Then the book was published in the late winter with some revisions and an epilogue, which tied up the loose ends, he said. “It is a feel-good story” about that time in life.
‘Den mother’ to a blog
Bill said he frequently gets stopped by friends and admirers. People who don’t want to talk to anyone else from the news business but Bill. They want to know what he is doing and about writing. “I hand them a business card for Moorandmore.net. I tell them to go there.”
The blog site has been around for two years. It features Bill and a dozen or so local writers. They highlight friends, family and the people next door. Many human interest stories from sports and music, to travel and industries. “I wanted to do it and I talked others into it,” he said and laughed. A little nudging goes a long way.
Not going to judge the arm-twisting but refreshments were probably involved.
Festivals and fairs:A list of South Bend area festivals to keep you busy summer, fall and even into winter
“They all enjoy writing. There have been some great contributions. I’m the den mother, and I push for them to write. I’ll tell them we haven’t had anything new in a while. I can’t push too hard — they do it for free.”
“Kissing the Frog” is available on Moorandmore.net and on Amazon.
Contact Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.