At 6 foot 1, Dallas native – Tanner McElroy is known to many for his work on the diamond and his time on the mound, pitching for the Texas Rangers and Texas Tech. But at 32 years of age, he’s now hoping to change all that – with his first foray into writing, a novel titled “War of Wings.” Described by McElroy himself as dark/fantasy/fiction, he says he initially starting writing to pass time on the bus on long road trips between games. The first book in a Trilogy, he now hopes to grip readers, inspiring them to focus on the positivity of life and all it has to offer. I recently caught up with Tanner during a stop on his book tour here in Austin: to talk life on the road, the inspiration for his first book, and what lessons he learned. Growing up in the Lake Highlands Suburb of Dallas – he admits: “….the biggest lesson I learned is to take your time when writing, all I wanted to do was get it out there when I finished my first draft – now it’s in my safe and I’d never let anyone read it..it’s terrible honestly..(laughs)”
AMFM Magazine: Talk to me about your transition from baseball to writing, how did that evolve?
Tanner McElroy: When I was playing baseball a lot of it requires traveling on bus trips and multiple hours of it. That’s when I really started writing a lot. Especially the work I did on “War of Wings,” that was done on long distance bus trips. I found a lot of people do things they are creatively passionate about, when they’re by themselves.
AMFM Magazine: Did you see yourself always wanting to write, or was it seen more as something to help pass the time?
Tanner McElroy: When I first started writing it was more…just to get it out for myself, then it turned more into wanting to write characters I’ve had from my life, then stories that I wanted to see or read.
It’s consisted of about 10 years of writing, the first three were a lot of word vomit (laughs), then you craft it into something you really want to see
AMFM Magazine:What did guys on the bus think of this, did they ever ask you what you’re working on?
Tanner McElroy: Honestly, a lot of people play cards on the bus, there were fights on the bus, a lot of crazy stuff happening around me, so honestly if you can get away it’s great! Some guys would study. The thing that’s great about baseball players and athletes, there’s a whole gamut of different types. Some of the smartest people I know played baseball ,or played a sport – a lot of them would be studying, others would be jackin’ around.
AMFM Magazine: How would you describe your book, for people who may not be sure what it’s truly about….simply by looking at the title?
Tanner McElroy: Basically, I had one person describe it as pre-Genesis, what happened in Heaven. And it starts out with everything perfect in Heaven, and tells how it gets corrupted by Lucifer. It then culminates into a giant war with a lot of the angels getting in trouble.
AMFM Magazine: So…who is this book really for – teens, tweens, adults, or did you just write for yourself?
Tanner McElroy: Ya’ know, I talked a lot about that, when I was going after publishers and agents, I then came up with my niche being an older market I guess. But I’ve been really surprised. At my first book signing there was an 11 year old girl, she walked up and was pretty fascinating…she’d go up there everyday, she didn’t have money to buy the book. She’d go up there everyday..and the book had only been out 5 days. I thought that’s awesome. I never would have thought kids would latch on to it, but it’s an easier read. So (he laughs) I guess I didn’t realize how smart kids are these days.
AMFM Magazine: This is the first book in a Trilogy, how’d you decide that? Was that your goal from the very beginning?
Tanner McElroy: Yes, I’m on my second book now. When I started the whole process, I outlined 3 books. This was originally called The Fall,… the second The Reign, and the 3rd The Revelation. So, I did structure steps..ya’ know… the hero’s journey…all that….anti-hero’s journey for Lucifer as well. I had it all structured to begin with, because I wanted to have the whole world realized. Then filling in the first book, that took a lot longer than I thought it would take. (laughs)
AMFM Magazine: What do family and friends think…are they ever like, hmmm “….he was a a baseball player, now he’s an author…what’s that about?”
Tanner McElroy: Honestly it’s hard to get people to read stuff. My dad didn’t even read it, until it was about done. I’d be like hey dad why don’t you read this….and give me some pointers….what do you think. People just don’t have time, it’s difficult – but I’ve had a lot of support ever since we got it out. I’m thankful for that, I’ve gotten great reviews. I couldn’t be happier! It’s just great to see people read it, to see a reaction..where people care about it is awesome.
AMFM Magazine: What disciplines did you have in baseball, that helped you with writing?
Tanner McElroy: Baseball is like the military, your life is controlled and you learn a lot of great lessons. I think you practice all the time, and people don’t realize how much you have to practice in baseball, the patience is probably the biggest think I learned from it. Writing is just something I’m passionate about! You know, I loved baseball….writing is just so much more therapeutic. It’s just something I really love to do.
AMFM Magazine: Was it always a goal to write growing up, or did things just evolve?
Tanner McElroy: No. (Laughs) I had no idea. I always wrote when I was little, but I didn’t realize it was something I wanted to do. I really just wrote this for myself and then it evolved into something else. Now all I want to do is write, and do creative things.
AMFM Magazine: What’s the biggest lesson you learned in this entire process?
Tanner McElroy: To take your time, I really wanted to get it out there when I finished my first draft – now it’s in my safe… and I’d never let anyone read it – it’s terrible honestly. It’s been so cool, to see how when you meet other people, meeting with publishers I learned a lot of things. Meeting editors, and working with others that might be better at something than you are… everyone is better than you at something …everybody in this world is. I really have enjoyed, finding people I never would’ve met in another area of life, it’s been awesome to have their input and make this the best it can be …. just the learning process and listening to other people when you think something is great – it can always be better!
AMFM Magazine: If readers can take away just one thing from reading your book, what do you hope that is?
Tanner McElroy: I wrote this after a pretty tough time in my life, I had a major, major downfall. And I love stories that have a good message! Although this is technically – dark, fantasy, fiction, I want people to read it, and be inspired to focus on the positive. There are two big things in the book: there’s Gabriel’s path and Lucifer’s path. Lucifer starts as the highest angel in Heaven, Gabriel starts as one of the lowest, and through their paths, and choices, different things happen. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in life is… when you focus on the negative you go down the wrong path, and when you focus on the positivity in life – good things can happen….ya’ that’s about it….good things can happen! (McElroy smiles and nods).
Upcoming Book Signings:
Saturday, June 21st
Barnes and Noble
6100 N. May Ave.
OKC, OK 73112
Sunday, June 22
Barnes and Noble
5231 E. 41st St
Tulsa, OK 74135