Just in time for the opening of the Cape Cod Baseball League on June 20, Orleans summer resident Kristin Waring has published her first novel, “On the Mound.”
“I am and always have been a Red Sox fan,” Waring recalled in an email interview from her home in Houston last week. “I would always ask to attend a game at Fenway for my birthday in late June with my father, who taught me so much about baseball and football.
“Then, whenever possible, attending a then-Cardinals and now-Firebirds game was a highlight of my summers,” Waring says. “If there was anything that was summer for me, besides camp, it was those games under the lights.”
“On the Mound” begins with a 19-year-old in a white baseball uniform standing on the pitcher’s mound. Although he is not a member of the team, he is about to pitch to the Orleans Cardinals. Caleb is a pitching phenomenon. He is also autistic and, in the words of his father Dan, “he’s not capable of walking off the field, getting himself home, showered or even fed on his own.”
Avery Carmichael is a sports reporter and the daughter of Mid Carmichael, a former player for the Yankees and now the team’s general manager and 74 percent owner. She travels to Orleans from her home in New York City to witness Caleb’s pitching. Once she does that, she sets out to produce a story on him. Along the way, she falls in love with Caleb’s dad.
“Dan and Avery’s relationship was what I based the entire story on, so they naturally came first,” Waring says when speaking about her book’s evolution. “My inspiration for Caleb was that I love underdog stories. It was a ‘what if’ moment for me when I first came up with the idea for the story. It started and then developed/grew with that one idea. Characters, events and ultimately the ending evolved over time.”
Waring began writing the book about a decade ago, when her three daughters were young. She had to carve out time when all three were busy. Whenever an idea or character came to her, she took notes. “After a few years of handwritten chapters and then transferring them to my computer, I invested in a laptop and strictly wrote on that. There were times I couldn’t read my own writing or had no idea what I was trying to say.” After about five years of that, she began leaving her telephone in the kitchen and setting up a timer to allow herself 45 minutes of uninterrupted writing time.
“Organization and being creative were a must for me in completing this book,” her ambition since she was a young girl reading Nancy Drew mysteries.
Caleb is a central figure in the novel, and Waring researched the topics of autism and autism spectrum disorder. “Writing about a young man who is so loved by his family and the nature of being a parent who would do anything for the betterment and safety of their child was what I was ultimately trying to portray to readers,” Waring says. “It is what Avery at first glance sees in Caleb’s father in the first chapter and [what] draws him to her.” A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the novel are being donated to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.
As well as being a love story and a story of how an autistic young man triumphs, “On the Mound” is a lovely story set in Orleans, which Waring has known well since childhood.
“My mother grew up in Orleans and graduated from then-Orleans High School, which is now the middle school where the Firebirds play,” Waring says. Waring’s parents are Eric and Ingrid Moyer, and today they live in the same house her mother grew up in.
Armchair travelers will enjoy touring Orleans with Avery, who is unfamiliar with the local terrain. “It struck Avery as funny that all roads leading to the beach were similar with sandwich/food shops to be found on the way to the beach and ice cream shops on the way back.”
Waring majored in finance and marketing at Boston College. After a career on Wall Street, she moved in 2004 to Houston where her husband Jay’s company is headquartered. She still found time to bring her young daughters up to Cape Cod. Two of her daughters have graduated from college, while the third is a rising senior at Boston College.
But the backbone of Waring’s story is baseball. “I can tell you tonight that baseball has the ability to bring everyone together,” Avery’s father says. “Whether watching one of your children play T-ball for the very first time or watching a 19-year-old autistic boy — excuse me — man, throw a baseball 100 miles an hour. It’s about family and committing the time to be there and be present.”
As for what’s next, Waring is working on a second novel called “Abroad” set in Rome, Boston and Connecticut.
“On the Mound” is available at Oceana, 1 Main St., Orleans.