Joe Drape is the author of the New York Times bestseller Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen, The Race for the Triple Crown, and Black Maestro. He is an award-winning reporter for The New York Times, having previously worked for The Dallas Morning News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, he lives in New York City with his wife and son.
Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Redmen
An inspiring portrait of the extraordinary high-school football team whose quest for perfection sustains its hometown in the heartland.Share This
Joe Drape's Blog, The Rail
Where are you from?
Kansas City, Missouri
Who are your favorite writers?
Richard Russo, Jim Harrison, Nelson DeMille, Bill Barich, William Least Heat Moon
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
As a boy, when I was in trouble, my mother made me read the great books as part of my grounding: Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Mark Twain's Huck Finn, and Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur. These nurtured my love of reading first, and was each provided a great template for vivid story telling.
Richard Russo's The Risk Pool and Jim Harrison's Legends of the Fall showed me how important "voice" is to storytelling. They are wonderful storytellers and elegant writers. Bill Barich's Laughing in the Hills and William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways are terrific books that blend journalism with voice and personal narrative.
Nelson DeMille keeps me chuckling and turning the page.
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
I have remained a reader, and I cook in the most basic Midwest fashion.
I'm interested in all kinds of sports by virtue of being a sportswriter. I am a passionate fan, however, only about my boyhood team - the Kansas City Chiefs. Trust me, it's hard to be a Chiefs fan.
I've owned, handicapped and bet on racehorses, and do ascribe to the horseplayers' creed that a "Bad day at the races is better than a good day anywhere else."
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Swim in your own lane. Don't worry about what anyone in the left or right lane is doing. You'll get where you're going when you're supposed to be there.
What is your favorite quote?
"Try not to become a man of success. Rather, try to become a man of value. "-Albert Einstein
What is the question most commonly asked by your readers? What is the answer?
Have you interviewed (name of famous athlete)?
Folks believe being a sportswriter is the greatest job around, and they are not far from it. I often feel like I'm talk radio because readers ask for your opinions on all sports. It is fun.
Now, at the same time, when I'm not working and someone asks me if I want to see a ballgame, I usually decline. I tell them that it's like asking a postman to take a walk on his day off.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I was the inaugural game of the Charlotte Hornets in 1988 - they were an NBA expansion team. They won, and people stormed the court. I had read "Breaks of the Game," by David Halberstam, which was about a season with Bill Walton's Portland Trailblazers. I was no Halberstam but I was interested in how 12 guys live and compete together and how they impacted a New South City like Charlotte, North Carolina.
Where do you write?
I write at home on my laptop at the kitchen table. I always have - no matter the chaos swirling around me. In fact, I like the chaos.