Lupica crosses home plate
Sportswriter and superhero novelist scores big
Best-selling author and New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica may be George Costanza’s favorite writer, but he honed his literary skills while growing up in New Hampshire.
Lupica was born in New York, but his parents moved to Nashua in 1964 and have lived in the same house ever since. Lupica got his writing start covering sports for the Nashua Telegraph in high school.
“I covered the Bishop Guertin basketball team,” Lupica said. “But I was on the basketball team so I had to write the stories under my friend’s name. I got paid $5 an article.”
Lupica is getting paid considerably more now, as his young adult novels about sports, like Travel Team and Heat, have consistently been New York Times Bestsellers. Lupica’s newest novel, Hero, delves into his own childhood love of superheroes. Lupica will discuss this book at Gibson’s Bookstore on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Hero tells the story of 14-year-old Zach Harriman, who loses his father, a famous special adviser to the president, in a plane crash. Not only does Zach need to deal with his father’s death but he also finds out he has inherited his father’s superpowers, like the ability to soar through the air.
“I always loved comic books growing up,” Lupica said on the phone, while taking a break from writing the sequel to Hero. “I was a fan of Batman, the Green Lantern, and I loved Spiderman’s attitude.”
The idea for the book began with a simple conversation that many kids have all the time. Lupica and his editor debated whether they would prefer to be invisible or to be able to fly. Lupica brought the question up at a conference with educators and it sparked a huge debate. Lupica knew he was on to something.
Lupica has an illustrious career as a sports writer and as an anchor on ESPN’s Sports Reporters. But he almost accidently stumbled into his success as a young adult novelist. Travel Team was based on an incident that happened in his life. Lupica’s son and his son’s friend were cut from the local travel team because they were too small. So Lupica decided to coach a team of smaller players. He thought that would make a good book. A half a million copies later and he was on his way.
“My wife told me that me writing in the voice of a 12-year-old boy was a perfect fit,” Lupica said. “It has been very natural for me.”
Lupica has remained young by raising four children, three sons and a daughter. While Zach, the character in Hero, has to deal with losing his father it is something Lupica only knows about anecdotally.
“My father is 86 years old and my best friend,” Lupica said.
Lupica feels very blessed to have grown up with his family and in New Hampshire. He said his parents gave him the gift of reading and writing and it has been something he’s carried with him his entire life. It is a gift he has passed on to many youngsters. Lupica said he loves when a mother comes up to him and says, “My son never read until he found your books.”
“My ability to write sentences that people want to read has given me a great life,” Lupica said.
While Lupica is a hero to many young boys and girls, he is also a favorite of George Costanza. In one episode of Seinfeld, George is asked who is his favorite author. He answers: Mike Lupica.
Lupica said he didn’t see the episode when it first aired but had a copy sent to him. When it arrived a note was attached from Larry David, creator of Seinfeld. David wrote he was a life-long New Yorker and the line was a thanks for all the insightful columns Lupica had provided over the years.
Lupica said writing columns is great practice for writing novels and he hopes when people finish one of his columns they walk away saying “I didn’t know that” or “I never thought of it that way before.”
“As a writer you need to find your own voice,” Lupica said. “Once you do you can soar as high as Zach.”