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Cross Hairs - An Idaho Sports Novel
Here is an interview with Jack Patterson, an Idaho writer and author of the recently released book, Cross Hairs. Cross Hairs explores the journey of small town Idaho newspaper reporter Cal Murphy as he begins to investigate the mysterious death of three star athletes on an 8-man football team. I caught up with Jack to ask him a few questions about this novel and writing about sports in Idaho.
Published: 1/10/2013 10:45:17 AM

Q: What possessed you to write a story that included Idaho high school 8-man football?

Jack: I love high school football, something I spent almost every Friday night in the fall watching for more than 20 years until I got out of full-time spots writing. And while I love big schools with packed stadiums, the passion fans in smaller communities have is unparalleled. Having lived in a few small towns, I thought it might be more interesting to start with a novel in a location like this than a big city.

Q: You were a sports editor in the high school sports crazed state of Georgia at one time. Why set your story in Idaho over Georgia?

Jack: This story has a lot to do with characters who are trying to escape something -- and Idaho is a much better place to escape than Georgia. I moved to Idaho from Georgia to escape traffic and a quality of life that I didn’t perceive to be that great. And Idaho has been as advertised in every sense for me. I’ve also found that no matter the state, people who live in small towns are always crazy about their sports teams.

Q: There are some striking similarities to one or two Idaho towns. Is the city of Statenville patterned after a certain one?

Jack: I’ve had several people ask me if it is Preston or Hagerman or Buhl, to which I always answer “yes.” The truth is I didn’t pattern Statenville after any town specifically, although geographically, Oakley is the city that fits best. And based on my conversations with you, it needs to be on my bucket list of small towns in Idaho to watch a football game.

Q: There aren’t many thriller and mystery novels out there that use sports as the backdrop for the story. Why did you choose this topic?

Jack: People always say, “Write what you know.” And I know newspapers and sports. I especially love high school sports and in many ways prefer it over pro and collegiate sports. But it also came out of the realization for me that sports writing wasn’t just about writing about games and events. These days, it seems like you need to be just as well versed in investigative reporting as you do in game coverage to make it in the business.

Q: Have you ever had to do any big investigations as a sports writer?

Jack: I’ve done several, but my first was in the mid-90s when I was working at a newspaper in Athens, Georgia. I was the high school sports editor and it was summer when the NCAA levied charges against the University of Georgia and put it on probation. So, since high school sports were on break, my editor assigned me to investigate one of the allegations. The documents we received were heavily redacted and I had to begin to piece together who all the people were in the document. It was right before the Internet explosion, so I had to get my information the old school way by calling people on the phone and relying on memories and sources over Internet documents. And it was a thrill. I uncovered that the allegation was linked back to a Georgia coach who committed suicide, a colorful UGA donor that nobody ever found out who he was, and a player who went to another school but was a wanted criminal in another state. It was fascinating.

Q: What are your future plans for novels?

Jack: Well, my second project in this series is already out called “Cross the Line”, which covers the same reporter working in Seattle. He discovers that six days before the Super Bowl, the Seahawks quarterback has been kidnapped and the ransom is he must lose the game. I’m already at work on the third project and have two more in the series planned.

Q: Where can people learn more about your projects?

Jack: My website is the best place to find out what’s going on, which is: And thanks for letting me share, Paul.

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