I eat Skittles only during game days

image from SIKids.com

The Seahawks won the Super Bowl. It’s starting, finally, to sink in. With no more football games for the year, I’m moving past that adrenaline-fueled binge into what I suppose is acceptance and even reflection. After the game, after the win, after the confetti, after the parade, where are we? What, in short, has all this meant?

This hasn’t been an ordinary football season. And this feels like winning more than a championship. It’s about life and meaning and purpose. Stick with me. I don’t mean that we learn about teamwork and goal-setting and the triumph of the spirit. We do, but we all have heard that before. That’s a pre-game speech or post-game reflection that I know we can do better than. There’s more here with this win, in this city, with this collection of players.

Like just about everybody (except perhaps the ebullient Pete Carroll and the ever gracious Russell Wilson), at times I don’t like my job. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great job, with great people. But there’s always that sense lurking that gnaws away. Like all jobs, sometimes it bores me. Sometimes it doesn’t feel important. But those are surface responses. At root, for most people, everyday jobs are taunts about unfulfilled potential and losing dreams. We all think we coulda been contenders. But so few of us ever are.

Seeing your team not just contend but prevail feels like all of that unfulfilled angst is momentarily erased. There’s a moment of transference, an alchemy in which disappointments are turned to gold and that sense of personal frustration is washed away by the team that you have followed and connect with. When your team stands at the top of the mountain, it feels like you’ve climbed it with them.

This temporary merging of yourself with your team is why all of those crazy sports superstitions seem to make sense. For the Super Bowl, I wore the exact same clothes, including the socks and boxer briefs, that I wore when we defeated San Francisco. I always open my Fremont Interurban IPA when the ball is in the air during kickoff. I eat Skittles only during the game.

That cathartic moment when your everyday frustrations and shortcomings are erased by your favorite team grabbing the brass ring might make sense to lots of people, no matter where you live. But for those of us in Seattle, there are communal layers of frustration on top of the individual ones. We haven’t had a major championship since the Sonics in 1979. To dump salt in that wound, the Sonics aren’t even part of our landscape anymore. In that way, the 1979 championship isn’t just decades in the past; it’s a ghost, a haunting remnant from a part of the city’s identity that was sold away. (And don’t kid yourself, it hurts seeing Durant and imagining that the Sonics were still here. But that’s just dreaming). We’ve also had a record-setting Seattle Mariners season end abruptly—another dream unfulfilled. We’ve had our favorite players leave for pastures filled with more green bills. We’ve had a communal inferiority complex that rolls east coast bias into Cali-focused bias. We’re ignored. We’re seen as not quite good enough. We’re the cute younger cousin whose precociousness is precious, not respected.

All of that came tumbling, for me at least, into the constantly bubbling feud between the Seahawks and 49ers and particularly the flap over Richard Sherman’s comments to Crabtree and gestures to Kaepernick. Let me come clean up front: I can’t stand the 49ers, especially Kaepernick. But I also loved Sherman’s comments because it gives voice to that simmering, ready to explode fire beneath the surface of this community. His comments demand attention. His self-confidence is refreshing in this city, which is all too often overly polite and/or passive aggressive. It’s a shot of personality that makes you look closer, at him and (to follow my comparison) the city itself. We need that.

For similar reasons, I love Doug Baldwin playing with a chip (or a boulder, if you listen to his own comments) on his shoulder. As “Southeastern Alaska,” we’re too easily overlooked and dismissed. We know that we aren’t “appetizers,” but we too often feel like other parts of the country think of us that way. Largely, that’s on us. Baldwin reminds us that you can take that feeling of being overlooked and challenge it and rewrite it. We’re a damn good city—Cris Carter can Google us and see.

As much as I love Sherman and Baldwin’s loud self-assurance, I also love the quiet confidence and more self-contained approach of so many of the other Seahawks. Kam talks with his hits, his shoulder yelling at you that the middle of the field is not to be entered lightly (just ask Vernon Davis or Demaryius Thomas). But he never gloats. Earl leads quietly but guess he’s the one Sherman always likes to sit next to before games. He’s the heart and soul of the L.O.B. Big Red Bryant gets the last word in the locker room before every game. Marshawn, of course, doesn’t like to talk to the media at all. And Russell Wilson isn’t just a leader on the field, he’s a model of community leadership and involvement off the field as well.

We could continue down the roster but the point here is that I love this team because of the way the personalities blend. These Seahawks are Whitmanesque and contain multitudes. That’s not an accident. It’s engrained in the culture of the team (and I’d like to think it’s engrained in the culture of our amazing city as well). Coach Carroll lets each player be himself. He celebrates what makes each player unique and then works to help each individual become the best that he can be, in his individualized way. It’s a team built upon celebrating what makes each person an individual. It sounds counterintuitive, but not only does it work, it’s fun and invigorating and refreshing to watch. The Seahawks are, even more so than other teams, one made of many—e pluribus unum.

That tie between Coach Carroll’s philosophy and a theory of civic identity and citizenship, I think, also helps explain our involvement as fans, our transformation of individual Seattleites into “12s.” The Seahawks make room for us as fans to be part of the team. This team has let us in, brought the 12s along every step of the way. They always thank us. They always let us share in the moment. They always help us feel part of what they are doing. It’s a unique bond for pro sports and a fan base. But to me it fits with the culture of the team: all are welcomed, all can help, all have something to contribute, and we’re all in this together. The players have embraced us as 12s and welcomed us and, together, we’ve turned the”Clink” into something astounding.

For all of these reasons, I took my kids to the Super Bowl parade. I didn’t articulate all of this to my children, but I wanted them to feel the excitement, feel the pride, feel the sense of community. We are so damn lucky to have not just the Super Bowl champions but also a team that so clearly and continuously brings city and self closer together. So, Cris Carter and everyone else, we’re a damn good city, with a damn good team—Google it and see.

Patrick Linder is an avid Seahwaks fan and an award-winning novelist who makes the Seattle area his home. His Seattle-based mystery Ghost Music has been termed a 5-star “must read” book and is available in both paperback and Kindle eBook format. Contact Patrick at patrick(at)patricklinderbooks.com

An interview with the UK’s #1 online women’s lifestyle magazine

Ghost Music cover for signature

Ghost Music has had great reviews and last week I was contacted by Lucy Walton at Female First, “the UK’s number 1 online women’s celebrity gossip and lifestyle magazine,” for an exclusive interview about my book, my writing process, and what’s coming next. Lucy asked some great questions and I enjoyed the chance to chat. Thanks Lucy!

For those of you who are interested in learning a bit more about the background to Ghost Music or why I think crime fiction is about a quest to answer the big questions in life, head on over to read the interview. So far, the response has been fantastic: since it went live this morning, Lucy’s interview about Ghost Music has been shared over 1,600 times on Stumbleupon.

You can find Ghost Music at Amazon and on Goodreads. Please spread the word and if you’ve already finished reading it, adding a review at Amazon and Goodreads would be much appreciated.

Wordstock and a dinner party!

Meet-the-author

Hi all. I’m back in Seattle, after spending the weekend in Portland at the Wordstock Festival to support the launch of Ghost Music. This was my first time at Wordstock but I’d love to visit again. It’s an annual book and literary festival with workshops, publishers on hand, and, of course, lots and lots of books.

I sold out of books the first day (though to be fair we only brought a few copies and had planned to use the event as more exhibit than selling opportunity). I met a lot of really, really nice people. Booklovers, I think, are a pretty good bunch ;-) I had lots of requests for more info on Ghost Music and handed my business card out to a number of interested readers. And I had a chance to get to know my publisher and a few other Oak Tree Press authors better–they are a great bunch. The festival, in short, was a success!

Saturday night I was treated to the best dinner party I’ve ever been to. I walked in to find an entire meal themed around Ghost Music and a murder mystery. The food ranged from “Killer beef tenderloin” to “Plot-twist potatoes” to “Alibi asparagus,” courtesy of chef Sheryl K. I also found an autograph station where the group had me sign their copies of Ghost Music. And just behind it, I discovered a “step-and-repeat” backdrop for photos. I cracked up. They are a creative, fun group.

The wine flowed freely. Smiles opened wide. Laughter became the background noise. It was an amazing night, an amazing weekend. Many, many thanks to Katie, Sheryl & John, Beth & Mike, Haley & Nathan, and Megan for putting everything together.

In other good news, Ghost Music continues to gain positive reviews and reader feedback is coming in on Amazon. Give it a look when you get a chance!

Ghost Music now available at Amazon!

Patrick Linder's Ghost Music cover

I had a great surprise today: my Seattle-based mystery Ghost Music is now available as a paperback at Amazon! The Kindle version should be ready next week, but it’s amazing to see the paperback up and ready for order.

I’d love it if you’d give Ghost Music a read and help spread the word. If you have the time, leaving a review at Amazon is also a great help.

I’m unbelievably excited. Feel free to email me with any questions you have about the book–the nice thing about having a blog like this is that I can interact with anyone who is interested in doing so.

So, please tweet away, share on Facebook, and spread the word to your friends!

–Patrick

Two weeks until launch!

Patrick_Linder_PhotoWe’re getting close to the launch of Ghost Music at the Wordstock literary festival in Portland–only two weeks to go! Things are falling into place, and it’s amazing to see each piece come together. We finished the front cover for Ghost Music this week. I love it–it has just the right atmosphere for a mystery. I submitted my headshot for the back cover of the book (see pic above), as well as the short blurb that will be there. Pitches to press have gone out. Praise from early readers has been included on the book cover. The PSWA Award seal is on there as well. It’s all starting to feel very, very real.

If you’re in the Portland area, I’d love to see you at Wordstock. And though things are coming together nicely, I’ll need your help after the book launches: spread the word, leave a review on Amazon, post and tweet away. Word of mouth is the best way to find good books and I hope you’ll help others find Ghost Music after it launches.

Stay tuned–we’re getting very close now!

–Patrick

Ghost Music wins an award

Great news! My novel Ghost Music was awarded third place for a non-published fiction book at the Public Safety Writers Association annual writing competition.

I’m hoping the “non-published” part changes soon. I don’t have a contract in hand yet, but I’ve been talking with Oak Tree Press about launching Ghost Music at October’s Wordstock conference in Portland. Stay tuned!