Friday, December 17, 2010

A Modern Day Sports Hero: St. John of the Midfield

Folk heroes and heroines are people who, in every day life, do the extraordinary to overcome adversity. We preserve their memories because they represent character traits and skills that we hold dear.

Folk heroes come in many shapes and sizes. In St. John of Midfield we are introduced to a sports folk hero. In today's world, sports figures loom large on the horizon but not all of them fall into the category of folk hero. Only those who exhibit talent, skills, leadership and sportsmanship even in the most difficult of times make the grade.

I recently asked author Garasamo Maccagnone to talk about the hero of St. John of the Midfield. But before the Q&A, let me give you a brief synopsis of the story:

World-class soccer star Bobo Stoikov makes an escape from communist Bulgaria and finds his way to America. Landing a job as a youth soccer coach, Bobo builds a reputation for himself as a successful, yet unorthodox, coach who propels his team to the championship title. But things go far beyond the soccer field when arch rival Sonny Christopher seeks to destroy Bobo's reputation, along with that of his best player, Luca, and the player's father, Mario. Before he realizes how serious the situation is, Bobo finds himself in sudden death and soon realizes there is more at stake than just a soccer game.

Folkheart Press
: Bobo is a contemporary folk hero who faces contemporary adversities. Why did you choose the ‘sports hero’ motif?

Garasamo: The world outside of America is in love with the game of soccer. Though Americans are not quite so enthusiastic about the sport, many Americans are sport junkies. With networks dedicated to sports 24 hours a day, the sports hero holds an exalted place in the culture.

Folkheart Press
: Folk heroes (and folk villains) often represent the beliefs and values of their cultures/societies. How did you determine which beliefs and values your characters would address?

: Even if you strip out religion, our culture admires individuals who give of themselves without asking a lot in return. Be it a teacher, fireman, coach, or a counselor, we applaud those who selflessly take care of others. Honing in on that discovery, it wasn't difficult for me to create an appealing character who represented the best of our ways.

Folkheart Press
: Would you describe the novel’s story line as mythical (involving archetypal and/or supra natural characters and elements) or folkloric (everyday, common place characters and themes)?

: Bobo uses St. John as an apostolic metaphor when explaining what he saw in his young student. Of course, it's really himself that he sees in Luca. As Bobo is good, he sees the good in Luca, which he believes is the main attribute to becoming a great interior mid-fielder. Since Bobo believes St. John to be the Saint most like Jesus, he impresses on Luca to aspire to be like St. John, St. John of the Midfield.

Folkheart Press
: What have you learned from your characters?

Garasamo: That evil lurks near those with the purest of intentions. With Mario, though he loathes his father's criminal empire, and does everything in his power to keep his family away from it, in the end, he has no choice but to become just like his father. With his son in danger, Mario reacts as his father would by giving a fateful nod that leads to a tragic ending.

Folkheart Press: Writers are folk heroes, too. What challenges have you overcome and which have made you stronger?

: I'm an in-your-face type of Catholic writer who catches flak from Evangelists to Atheists. And of course, most uncomfortable with my stories, are the Catholics themselves, who often don't like to be reminded of their hypocrisy.

The author is currently working on his next book, The Fish and the Fox. Other written works by Garasamo include, The Affliction of Dreams, a collection of short stories and poetry, The Suburban Dragon, a children's book, and For the Love of St. Nick, an illustrated short story about two boys who seek the help of St. Nick after the tragic loss of their mother.

Be sure to check out tomorrow's post in this Writers In The Sky virtual blog tour by visitng Dallas Woodburn of Dallas hosts an article about using YouTube for marketing promotions and the book trailer for St. John of the Midfield. Follow this blogger on Twitter: @DallasWoodburn.


  1. Thanks for featuring my novel. I'm looking forward to answering questions from your viewers.


  2. Thanks, Gary.
    Really appreciated the interview!

  3. Mac, do you think the athlete who inspired the character Bobo would recognize himself if he read your story?

    Karen, I loved the questions. Great interview.

  4. Yes. I believe Rocco Mitkov, who inspired the character Bobo Stoikov, would recognize himself and his traits in the story.
    Once, while we traveled through the rain in Chicago, I paid little attention to Rocco as I leaned into a turn coming off the freeway exit ramp. Finally, Rocco grabbed my arm and said in his thick Bulgarian accent, "Geddy - Looooook." As he spoke, he pointed toward the other direction. "Loooook," he repeated, with a worried look on his face. When I finally turned, I almost lost it. A dark black wall of clouds was on top of us. "Holy Shit!" I screamed, pushing my foot to the pedal.
    An hour later, we learned the twister touched down in Indiana. I made sure I paid strict attention to Rocco from that point on.
    Rocco now lives in Florida, near Miami. If you want to find him, you just need to hang around the area soccer fields until a little 75 year old Bulgarian shows up on his bicycle.

  5. I love it. Thanks Mac.
    I hope a copy of St. John of the Midfield makes its way to him.