Dreamfield: An Interview with Ethan Bryan

Today I’m sharing with you a conversation I had with my friend Ethan Bryan about his new book Dreamfield.

It’s a fun story about baseball and time travel. When I first read it, I was entertained, pulled along, and loved every minute of it. I hope you enjoy our little talk and check out Dreamfield.

Ethan D. Bryan loves stories.

At the age of six, he lost all of his hair due to an immune-system disorder called alopecia. He is no stranger to the bullying of kids and the awkward stares of adults. He now gets a kick out of how many of his contemporaries are currently challenged follically.

Ethan is a Springfieldian through and through, attending school from 2nd grade through undergrad at then-SMSU. His baseball stories have landed him ever so briefly in an ESPN 30-for-30, as a background ballplayer in an Emmy award winning documentary, an invitation to the White House for the Royals World Series celebration, and a chance to go to Cooperstown and read his baseball poetry.

For the next year, Ethan is writing grants for Ozarks Literacy Council, a non-profit that offers free reading tutoring to anyone in need.

First off, can you tell me what Dreamfield is about?

I moved to Springfield at the beginning of second grade and really do love living here. I wanted to write a story that celebrates all the good stuff I experienced growing up in “flyover country.”

Honestly, I wrote it for me, remembering how much of life from my senior year in high school has repeated itself, only on a grander scale.

What do you mean by your life has repeated its self from senior year?

Sinead O’Connor’s performance at on SNL. A bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Racial relations issues thanks to owner of the Cincinnati Reds, Marge Schott. And the Branch Davidians at Waco. All of those events happened my senior year in high school.

Time and time again, I’ve seen those who dare to proclaim truth be ostracized, hate steal life, race continue to divide, and religious extremism kill.

But I’ve also seen hope lived out through friends who dare to do small things to help others, and the joy of a child’s game bringing reconciliation.

Dreamfield’s just a story to encourage us to be present to the people we share life with daily and their needs.

Dreamfield has a lot of baseball in it, as do your other books. Why write about baseball so much?

Great question, and I really wish I had a better answer, but I just love the sport.

I went to my first game at the age of 4 and have been a superfan ever since. Recently, my parents cleaned out old photos and drawings from the garage. I now have drawings I made and stories I’ve written about baseball as a first and second grader. I even wrote a letter promising my parents that I’d buy them tickets to my games so they could watch me hit a home run.

Any chance I get, I love to go to the batting cages or play catch or shag fly balls in the outfield. When I’m doing those things, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing. Worries vanish and I really feel completely in the moment.

It really is a taste of heaven for me.

That’s cool that you put something you love so much into your writing.

What kind of writing have you done before Dreamfield?

Almost exclusively memoir, which is pretty much what Dreamfield is, along with long-form essays and stories.

I’ve also written a few children’s picture books and have been working on poetry in recent months.

What are your hopes and dreams for Dreamfield

Of course hitting a best-seller list would be incredible, but I think it’s a fun book that could be used to help others dreams come true, too.

For example, what about doing a signing and storytelling event and using the proceeds from book sales to help raise money for others as they chase dreams? I think it could work, especially for people who are good at figuring out details.

Finally, I’m hoping, somehow, the book helps me achieve one of my lifelong dreams of playing baseball with / for the Royals.

Shag flies during spring training. Throw out a first pitch. Play catch with one of my current baseball heroes. Take batting practice on the field at the K.

I’d love for those who read it to want to come to Springfield and explore the places and businesses mentioned in it, from Fun Acre to Andy’s to our incredible cashew chicken. Maybe while they are in town, we can meet for coffee and have a catch, too.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part for me is believing that this is a story anyone else would want to read.

Another really hard part of writing this book was the editing process. Throughout the editing, the story continued to change here and there, which affected other parts of the tale. Keeping everything straight was quite difficult. I think it all worked out, but there are probably story holes I haven’t even considered which someone else will read and say, “What about this?” and I’ll be completely stupefied as to why I never thought of it.

What is your favorite part of Dreamfield?

In the scenes about the Branch Davidians, there is a flash-forward-back about a man who served as a Texas State Patrolman during the siege and his description of the event and how he stays grounded in his faith really resonates.

I also really like the ending, the very last chapter.

Honestly, the whole book still cracks me up.

Last question: what do you want people to take away from Dreamfield?

To be human is to live as fully as possible in the present tense. I am so good at worrying about tomorrow and regretting missed opportunities from yesteryear.

But Life is experienced now. God is with us here. That always needs to be celebrated.

Dreamfield is available on Amazon.com and where ever books are sold.

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