Monday musings: When headlines mimic your own writing


For the next few weeks, your favorite bestselling authors take a few words to describe times when they saw something in the world around them that seemed to echo events they described in their books. This week, it’s the author of Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever.

Headlines echo fiction

Photo by Jon S via flickr

By Caleb Pirtle III

A few weeks ago, I saw the headlines for a sports story, the kind you once never saw, but now see on a regular basis. The unthinkable had happened again. Players from a major college football team had been suspended from the team and from the school. They had all the talent in the world. They had a great opportunity to play football in college and maybe even the NFL. But in the blink of an eye, they faced temptation and made the wrong choice.

There were confronted with allegations of sexual assault. One girl came forward to charge them. Then another. Universities use female students all the time to recruit elite football players. Smile a lot. Show them around campus. Host them at parties. Some of the players think the real party begins after the lights go out. It doesn’t. And a few players take advantage of the situation. A friendly dance turns into assault. It becomes a crime.

Suspension was one thing. Jail time was another, and the right judge under the right circumstances could put them away for a long time. Were the players guilty? I don’t know. Or did the coach just not want them on the team anymore? It happens. Lives are changed forever. The lights dim. Hopes dim with it.

News headlines echoed the events in the bestselling novel Friday Nights Don't Last Forever.It happened in my novel about what goes on behind the scenes of recruiting in college football. In my novel Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever, a star quarterback gets caught up in the wrong party. A coach no longer wants him. He watches his life go down the drain. No one cares about his innocence. They just want his scholarship back to give to another. I wrote:

Casey’s heart began to shrivel. Word somehow had gotten out. Somebody, at last, must have figured out how Bethany Locklar died, and who had been in the bathtub with her the night those sewing scissors were driven between her breasts.

She had been so beautiful. So bruised. So purple. And now it was over.

“Casey,” Johnson continued in that slow drawl of his, “I hate to tell you this, son, but it seems as though we are going to have to withdraw the football scholarship we offered you.”

Casey was not surprised. But he said, “I don’t understand. I’ve already signed it. The news is already out that I’ve signed it.”

“It was a mistake. It doesn’t look like we have that particular scholarship available to us anymore.”

“You can’t do that to me.”

“Yes, we can, son.” J. T. Johnson was silent for a moment, then he pounded each word into Casey as though it were a nail. “Under the circumstances, son, I’m afraid we can do any damn thing we want to. We know what you don’t want anybody else to know. Do you understand exactly what I’m saying to you?”

Casey did. It had been Bethany Locklar’s job to recruit him.  She worked hard to recruit him.

Now it seemed she had died for nothing.

Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever

The dream of college football propels Casey Clinton into the best and worst times of his life. On Friday nights in Avalon, Alabama, football reigns supreme. Quarterback Casey Clinton’s magic arm drives recruiters and his opponents wild. Girls worship him. A preacher’s wife seduces him. Life can’t be any better.

But when slick college football recruiters offer the small-town high school player the chance for fame and glory, it’s no longer a game. It’s business. And it’s brutal. Lavish promises of money, women, and a spot at the top of the football world take Casey into a violent world he could never imagine.

Temptation is great. His life spirals out of control. His world crumbles out from under him. Football is no longer a sport. It’s a fight for survival in a game where everyone but Casey knows how to play.

Find it on Amazon.

Caleb Pirtle IIIBestselling author Caleb Pirtle III

is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.