Mets writer Jason Fry talked a bit about baseball and Star Wars while attending Book Expo America at the Jacob Javits Center.
When you’re talking about books, you would rarely have them in the same sentence as the New York Mets. Unless you’re talking about a book a Mets player or coach wrote, a statistics book, or an educational book, the two don’t mix.
That’s where Jason Fry comes in. He dabbles a little in both worlds and is pretty darn good with both sides. With the Mets, he’s been a fan for as long as he can remember and he has written about the Mets for Faith and Fear in Flushing, which he co-created, for more than a decade.
When it comes to books, Jason is one of the big guns in the Star Wars universe. He wrote more than 20 Star Wars related novels and guides, including the novelization of The Last Jedi, published earlier this year.
This year, on the last day of May, Jason attended Book Expo America to discuss audiobooks. He was a panelist in an event called the Audio Publishers Association Author Tea. Jason, who was dressed in green and white spent the afternoon with other writers talking about their experiences with audiobooks.
It was a perfect time to ask him about some of his favorite hobbies, writing, and the Mets.
On the topic of becoming a Mets fan, Jason said he had been one for as long as he can remember and that it was thanks to his family.
"One of my first memories is my mom jumping up and down in our family room cheering for Rusty Staub."
However, Jason wasn’t a fan for long as he veered away from baseball and the Mets at the start of the 80’s, until the early days of the championship squad.
"Dwight Gooden’s rookie season brought me back in, and I’ve been a fan for better or worse – mostly for worse – ever since."
Over the past few years, the Mets have torn through their farm system like a knife through soft butter. For Jason, it’s been fun watching the young guys like Brandon Nimmo and Amed Rosario. However, as a result of constant farm usage, there isn’t much left to look forward to in the minors.
Other than Peter Alonso of course, who needed to play in just 36 games to hit his first 11 home runs this season.
"I saw Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s ridiculously dramatic exhibition homer in Canada and can’t wait to see what he’ll do in the big leagues."
Many fans feel his excitement. Even though Junior doesn’t play for the Mets, it’s the nature of baseball fans to be in awe of such promise. When Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout made their debuts, it wasn’t just Angels fans who had their eyes glued to them.
Jason then talked a bit about his love-hate relationship with the home of the Mets and other stadiums. When discussing Shea stadium, Jason has fond memories of watching the Mets play and the people he was with. When it comes to the stadium itself, the memories weren’t all that great.
"I don’t miss anything about Shea… I would have helped knock it down myself if allowed to swing a sledgehammer."
When talking about stadiums outside of Citi Field, he talks about what Citi should be more like. His favorite stadium outside of Citi is Comerica Park and from the looks of it, he could go on for hours about everything that’s right with the stadium.
"Comerica is what I wish Citi Field was. It’s like a kids’ treehouse for Tigers stuff. There are Tigers carved into the stadium facade, a carousel where you can ride on them, tiger-themed restaurants and bars inside, and loads of display cases and presentations about Tigers’ history."
It’s true. Other than Fan Fest, the prize wheel, and the open view, Citi doesn’t really have much going on. In Miami you have everything going on all at once. In Brooklyn, the home of the Cyclones puts an emphasis on fun while also having one of the best views in baseball.
Let’s move on and talk about writing for a bit.
Jason has been writing for Faith and fear in Flushing for a long time. When he created the blog with Greg Prince in 2005, he was already a seasoned writer with a good chunk of his success coming from a decade with the Wall Street Journal.
Jason spent a lot of time discussing what it’s like writing about the Mets, where he draws inspiration from, and the process of writing one amazing post.
"The recaps are pretty straightforward – you react to what the Mets have given you and let it rip, whether the game brings up some kind of historical connection or you’re trying your hand at scouting, roster questions… That starting point dictates the rest. We write about whatever we want to write – if we’re moved to write, that’s interest enough to turn the topic into a post."
How long did it take to type up this article? About three to four hours. But like any writer would know, writing the article is only half the battle, if even. Most of the work takes place before you even sit down and start typing, or else you wouldn’t have had an article to begin with.
Ideas can come to you and stick while you’re watching a game, or you can spend time talking to someone and asking questions.
"Of course a lot of the writing happens subconsciously during the game or while pottering around thinking about it afterwards."
For someone who has been writing about the Mets for nearly two decades as well as a ton of novels, you would think it would be hard to find a balance between the two. For Jason, it’s not really an issue.
His priority is the work that gets him paid, which is usually the books. Sometimes, working on the books can keep him away from writing about the Mets for long periods of time.
"I prioritize the work that gets me paid over the blog because it has to be that way – if I did it the other way and messed up there wouldn’t be any more work that gets me paid."
Why don’t we veer away from baseball for a bit and talk about one of Jason’s other favorite hobbies, Star Wars?
Jason wasn’t one of those fans who picked up on Star Wars after it was already big or born after it was big. No, he’s one of the original fans, a fan from the very beginning of the Star Wars roots.
When the original Star Wars movie came out, it did to Jason what it had done to many other kids and adults. It put a lot of wonder into their minds, even those who thought they saw it all.
"Suddenly one day everyone in our town was talking about this new movie called Star Wars. I was only eight, but I was already in love with writing and storytelling. It was just that I’d never imagined stories could be like that."
For a while, Jason talked about his favorite Star Wars movie as well as the anthology films. I did not grow up in the age of the prequels, so my favorites come from the newer batches. However, those who were a part of that age, like Jason, have fantastic memories of The Empire Strikes Back.
He says that even though the original movies were amazing, Empire was so much more, especially when it came to character development.
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When it comes to the anthology films, Jason loved them and believes we are in the golden age of Star Wars. He credits this to how few and far apart Star Wars media was in the past compared to an outburst of movies, books, shows, and other forms that we have today.
A lot of which came from his own hands as well.
Speaking of his involvement in Star Wars media, how did he even get involved in the first place?
Jason’s first foray into the Star Wars writing universe came when he joined a Star Wars board and began meeting lots of new people. From there, it was a long series of making new connections and working on small projects.
"My work showed editors at a number of Star Wars publishers that I could write, hit deadlines, and keep secrets. Using that as a base, I started writing for Star Wars role-playing books, magazines and websites"
Lastly, Jason talked about something that lots of Star Wars fans are curious about. Have you ever wondered how you see a movie, but then when you read the novelization, there’s so much more? New scenes and settings, maybe even new characters?
Well, that happened with The Last Jedi. The book, which came out in March contained several scenes that were not in the movie.
You’re talking about a big corporation like LucasFilm and Disney.There has to be lots of restrictions and rules on what can and can’t be added. While Jason does say this is true, he says it’s not as difficult as most believe.
"Everything needs to be approved, which is a team effort involving my editor at a given publisher, editors at Lucasfilm and the Lucasfilm Story Group"
Currently, Jason still has plenty of work to do. From the looks of it, he wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Right now Star Wars is more than 40 years old and he still loves it. He loves it as much today as when he was a kid.
Throughout the years he was able to work with some of the best people around. He even met all sorts of fans and readers.
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As for the Mets, it looks like they are something that he wouldn’t trade. This may even be true no matter how bad they can be.