The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro-Review, Interview and Giveaway
The Hockey Saint
by Howard Shapiro
Release Date: September 10, 2014
Genre: Graphic novel, all ages, hockey, fiction
About the Book: Release Date September 10, 2014
Twenty-one year old Jeremiah Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he wasn’t prepared for the frenzy and scrutiny that came with that title. Tom Leonard is an average college sophomore… just a guy trying to find his place in the world as he sorts through issues that are both very real and seemingly insurmountable.
Through a chance meeting, these two strike up an unlikely friendship. Their bond is tested when Tom discovers that his idol isn’t as perfect up close as he seems from afar. With Jeremiah living a little too much in the moment and with his past catching up to him, will Tom be able to help him before it’s too late?
REVIEW: THE HOCKEY SAINT is a graphic novel focusing on college sophomore and hockey player Tom Leonard and his friendship with professional hockey star Jeremiah Jacobson. Written by Howard Shapiro, and illustrated by Marica Inoue and color work by Andres Mossa, The Hockey Saint is a storyline for all ages with a message about the excesses that can come with fame and fortune. As Tom struggles with balancing his studies and playing hockey, he will get some unintentional life lessons from Jeremiah Jacobson.
I do not usually review graphic novels but I thought the premise involving the sport of hockey was interesting and something out of the usual. The story follows two young men caught up in the fame and notoriety of hockey stardom-one who has yet to see his star rise and the other who is heading for a downward spiral.
Each chapter is prefaced with a recommended song list as well as a chapter title. The graphic images are clear and colorful; the text is equally legible with no foul language, no sexual content, no violence or innuendo. The writing is simple and easy to understand. The storyline is a message about drinking and driving; smoking and drinking to excess. Even the image of the worshipped hero leaves little to the imagination about the long term affects of substance abuse on the body.
THE HOCKEY SAINT is great book for the young graphic novel reader. If you are looking for a storyline about hockey and sports heroes with a happily ever after, The Hockey Saint is the perfect gift for the holiday season or any time of year.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Howard and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of your latest graphic novel THE HOCKEY SAINT.
Howard: Thank you for this opportunity!!
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Howard: I live in Pittsburgh, PA with my wife and our two, fifteen year old sons. I am an Accountant by day, the Controller for a Visual Effects Studio and I have done five previois books, “The Hockey Saint” will be my sixth book and second graphic novel.
TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?
Howard: Mostly hanging around with my kids either watching TV or playing video games with them. In the fall and winter I enjoy watching ANY hockey game that is on television and I participate in a fantasy hockey league and keeping up with that takes up a lot of time.
TRC: Will you please explain-what is a graphic novel?
Howard: The quick answer is that it is an expanded comic book or a novel with pictures. There are so many great stories that are done as GN’s these days but I still think GN’s aren’t a truly mainstream genre as of yet. Go to any Barnes and Noble or library and chances are they will have a GN section but it will be small and off the beaten path. That will hopefully change in the future!
TRC: Which comes first-the story or the graphics?
Howard: Excellent question! For me it’s the story but told through the prism of the graphics. I have the story in mind, but what I end up doing is writing it in a visual way. I write it in a quasi-script format and so that way I am visualizing how the scene will play out and then I add in the dialogue.
TRC: Do the illustrator and author collaborate throughout the writing process?
Howard: Absolutely and that is my favorite part of the process! If you have a great illustrator, then the process can be pretty seamless. I like to give as much direction as I can to the illustrator, even providing samples of what I’d like a certain object or scene to look like. That and the facial expressions and body language that the characters are displaying. I can bve a time consuming process but its an amazing feeling when it all comes together!
TRC: Have you ever encountered an illustration/illustrator that did not represent what you imagined for your story? If so, how do you rectify the discrepancy?
Howard: Sure, it happens on occasion. That is usually where I go to google and search for an image and then send that to the illustrator and ask them to fix whatever it is. I’ve been lucky in that the two illustrators I have worked with, once they have established a great rhythm and are used to drawing the characters they nailed most pages in one take. The one thing I’ve really stressed with both illustrators is consistency, each time a character is displayed they have to have the same basic look. I really try and hammer that home, consistency on each and every single page.
TRC: Are most of the images hand drawn using pen and paper, or do most graphic illustrators now use computer programs and a Wacom tablet?
Howard: I believe that computer programs are used. The way we saved a lot of time with “The Stereotypical Freaks” was that the illustrator sketched by hand three of four pages and that why I could get a sense of what the pages would look like and then we could make changes and tweaks at that point. Then he would do the final pages and most pages were done in the first take!
TRC: How and when did your interest in graphic novels begin? Have you always been a fan of the graphic novel or comic book?
Howard: I do a few school visits each year and in one I did back in 2010 at an elementary school here in Pittsburgh, the school’s librarian was telling me how he could not keep any of the graphic novels on the shelf. The kids would take them out regardless of the subject and he also said that the neat thing was that the boys really loved them and would read them cover to cover. He told me how it was like pulling teeth to get boys interested in reading but that they really took to the GN’s he had on the shelves. So, the little light bulb went off above my head and I went to a local library and borrowed two GN’s, “The Big Kahn” and “Garage Band.” And, like the kids, I was hooked! I absolutely loved comic books growing up, I was team Marvel all the way and used to buy as many as I could and read them cover to cover and I thought that here was a chance to maybe take the dive in and do a GN which I kind of looked at as an expanded comic book. I was looking to do something different as my previous books had been either kids’ books or a middle grade novel and so I decided to learn as much about the process of creating a GN. Almost three years later “The Stereotypical Freaks” came out and my hope is to do a few more GN’s before I move onto something else!
TRC: THE HOCKEY SAINT is your October 2014 release. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Howard: The story revolves around two characters, Jeremiah Jacobson whos is the world’s best hockey player and college sophmore Tom Leonard. They have a chance meeting and become very good friends and the story is really about their friendship, what it means to be a someone’s good friend, what we sacrifice for ambition and also the proliferation and over exposure of sports in the modern day.
TRC: Are any of the characters based in reality or a combination of reality and fiction?
Howard: Another good question! Tom Leonard has been a character in each of my six books. He started out as a young kid in my first three books which were picture books and in my middle grade novel he was a teen and that carried through to “The Stereotypical Freaks” where he was a senior in high school and now in “The Hockey Saint” he is a college student. He is me and I am him! I’ve always used him as my doppleganger, so he is based on me and my expereinces. Jeremiah is a combination of sports and entertainment figures which include Arthur Ashe, Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
TRC: Do any of your storylines feature a strong, female heroine?
Howard: One of the criticism’s that was valid, I thought, from “The Stereotypical Freaks” was that there wasn’t a strong female character. Looking back on it, I had to agree and so I set out in “The Hockey Saint” to rectify that mistake and I feel that the story has two very strong female characters in Felicity who is with Jake (I don’t want to give out a spoiler) and Tom’s Grandmother, Sophie. They each exhibit strength in their own ways and I couldn’t be happier with the way they each turned out!
TRC: Have you considered writing a graphic novel for adults? If not, why?
Howard: I like to think that both of my GN’s are and would be a very enjoyable read for adults as well as kids. I guess what I would like to establish is that the books can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what age you are. Even when I did my kids illustrated books, I tried to mix in themes that made kids think and analyze the story. I did not want to dumb down or talk down to kids and I’ve tried to be very consistent throughout all six books and offer both kids and adults lots of things to think about in my books. The worst thing, I think, a writer can do is talk down or dumb down his or her stories to fit a certain demographic. Kids are usually a lot smarter then people in the entrtainment industry give them credit for, so my job as a writer has always been to challenge them and mostly make them think about the ideas and themes I am trying to put across in each of my books.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Howard: I had the great pleasure to work with my friend and editor Christina Ahn on “The Hockey Saint” and if she is willing, she will be my editor for everything else I do. She is an amazing author in her own right and the best editor and storyteller that I know. The book would not have been what it is without her and the direction and help she provided to me!
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Howard: I’m in the early stages of doing the final story in the trilogy that started with “The Stereotypical Freaks.” “The Hockey Saint” is book number two and things will wrap up with “Can You See The Light” which again is the final story in what I titled the Forever Friends trilogy. I’ve just started doing pre-production on that and I hope to have that out in early 2016.
TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
Howard: Well, I have one more graphic novel in me and then I have an idea for a romance-like novel. I’m not sure what genre it would be classified under but it will be a modern love story which I want to get down on paper because it is stuck in my head right now!
TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?
Howard: That I only want to produce stories that you can read over and over again. Stories that have an impact and actually say something. That has been my credo for all six of my books.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Howard: My publisher, Animal Media Group, has been really great in promoting “The Hockey Saint” and giving us all of the tools to get the word about the book out. They had an online hockey video game produced by a firm in Columbis, Ohio and the game plays out really great! It’s very fun and incredibly addictive so if you have a few minutes, please check it out at www.thehockeysaintgame.com we are running a tournament on October 4th and the winners will recieve gift cards. More info will be available at the Animal Media Group Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/animalmediagroup
Favorite Food – Pizza
Favorite Dessert – Peanut Butter M&M’s
Favorite TV Show – (Present Day) – Hell’s Kitchen, (All Time Favorite) – Starsky & Hutch
Last Movie You Saw – Guardians of the Galaxy
Favorite Musical Group – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Dark or Milk Chocolate – Milk Chocolate
Secret Celebrity Crush – Molly Ringwald
Last Vacation Destination – Toronto
Pet Peeve – People who take sports too seriously
TRC: Thank you Howard for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of The Hockey Saint.
Howard: THANK YOU!!
Howard is offering an amazing giveaway for FOUR (4) lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe. Prizes available to be won are:
-1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card
-1 winner will receive a signed paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT and a promo t-shirt
-2 winners will each receive a signed paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT
1. If you have not previously registered, please register using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.
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3. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.
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6. Giveaway open Internationally.
7. Giveaway runs from October 11 to October 15, 2014
For an extra chance to WIN a paper copy of THE HOCKEY SAINT or a $20 Amazon Gift Card click HERE and enter the GOODREADS giveaway