Tim Crothers, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Hard Work, was kind enough to answer some questions about his latest project.
Algonquin: How did you come to write this book with Coach Williams? Did you approach him with the idea?
Tim: I have been stalking Coach Williams for years to do the book. He is a very private man in a very public job and I knew he would not be comfortable with the idea of sharing the intimate details of his life publicly, but I guess I finally wore him down. I think Coach Williams is the only person in his universe who wasn’t really sure that a story about a North Carolina mountain kid growing up poor with an alcoholic father and no idea of what college was who becomes a Hall of Fame coach at the University of North Carolina would make a good book. Parts of his story are so dramatic that they read like a novel.
Algonquin: What was your working process with Coach? Where were the interviews conducted, and how long did they take?
Tim: We usually did the interviews at night either at his house or at his office. We’d spend three or four hours each night. We began with him telling me his life story from childhood to the present and then we went back and filled in the details later. I originally asked him for 12 hours to accomplish that and my guesstimate was a bit light. We actually spent 64 hours doing interviews and that was before the many hours of editing and proofreading. He will not let me forget that all of the hours he spent on the book this summer totally ruined his golf game.
Algonquin: Is Hard Work the story that you expected it would be when you set out to write it?
Tim: I don’t think I really knew what to expect and that is part of the fun as a co-author. I had no idea he would dig so deeply into the intimate details of his past to bring out a story so raw and touching. In fact, I didn’t know most of the story we tell in the book at all until he was sharing it with me. But after hearing it, I wanted readers to be able to experience his passion for the story as strongly as I did.
Algonquin: After the interviews were completed, what was your process to craft it into a story? How much time did you have between the interviews and when the manuscript needed to be turned in to work on the book?
Tim: Basically I was interviewing Coach Williams right up until the day before the book was due, but the manuscript was written largely over the final two weeks before the deadline. Fourteen chapters. Fourteen days. Fourteen-hour days. My writing style is anecdotal, which meshed well with Coach Williams, whose speaking style is anecdotal. We tried to maintain his unique voice as much as possible in the text and present his story in a dramatic fashion with plenty of teases along the way to make the reader anxious to turn the page.
Algonquin: Now that the months of tight deadlines and late nights of editing are over, what are you planning for your next project?
Tim: My next project will be catching up on my sleep and reintroducing myself to my wife and children. All of that could take a while, but eventually I hope to write another book. Because my literary oeuvre now consists of The Man Watching, the biography of UNC women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, and Hard Work, I’d guess that if there is another book, it will not involve a UNC coach. I’m in danger of getting pigeonholed.
To find out more about Tim Crothers, Roy Williams, and Hard Work, visit www.roywilliamsbook.com.