The idea of writing a detective novel about a punter actually dates back to the late 1990s, when I was watching a Jets pre-season game with friends and we joked about how their punter, Nick Gallery, had a name that sounded like it belonged to a hard-boiled private eye. That was the early seed; it spouted a little more in 2007, when I was in Indianapolis for a Colts minicamp as a reporter for Sports Illustrated and I noticed a player throwing interception drills to the linebackers. I looked on my numerical roster and found that the player was Hunter Smith, the Colts punter and a former college quarterback. I wondered what he would be doing if he wasn’t throwing interception drills, and I thought about the free time he had.
Not long after that my father, an inveterate mystery fan, suggested that I read Richard Stark’s Parker novels. I did, and I loved the books, mostly for the character of Parker, a criminal who was a master at anticipating angles and proceeding remorselessly toward a goal. It occurred to me that Parker’s mindset had much in common with elite athletes and how they approach the game.
With that thought, I began to write the book that became HANGMAN’S GAME. The title refers to its main character, punter Nick Gallow, whose nickname is Hangman.
In the course of writing this book Nick Gallow developed into a character who was like Parker only in the most superficial ways. Or more accurately: he is a character who strives for Parker’s ruthless efficiency, but finds it easier to achieve on the field than in real life.
I am very happy with final product, HANGMAN’S GAME. I hope you like it too.