What do you enjoy doing? It may be playing sports, reading, taking photographs, writing. For Molly Williams in Mick Cochrane's novel, "The Girl Who Threw Butterflies," that thing is throwing a special kind of pitch called a knuckleball.
For the author of that novel, it is a different story.
Mick Cochrane loves to write. He is a professor of English and literature at Canisius College who describes himself as being "bookish." He also is a fan of baseball, especially the Minnesota Twins. He has written several critically acclaimed novels, including "Butterflies," which is set in Buffalo.
"It's a place I know well enough to write about," he says.
"The Girl Who Threw Butterflies" is "a book about a girl trying to find her place in the world, trying to find herself. She happens to do it through baseball," Cochrane said.
Molly Williams is an eighth-grader whose father has just died in a car accident. She is distraught but decides to join the boys' baseball team in memory of him. Her secret weapon is the knuckleball, a challenging pitch to throw. It is often referred to as a "butterfly" because of the way it floats through the air and darts about, making it very hard to hit. She tries to recover from her father's death while patching up other relationships in her life.
"It's about the resilience of the human spirit," Cochrane said.
Cochrane says his love of writing, which he didn't discover until college, was a consequence of his love of reading.
"Looking back, I can see that I was predisposed to being a writer," he said.
He offers several tips for young writers: "The number one is to read ... read, read, read and read some more."
From his own experiences with writer's block, he says, "I sort of trick it ... I keep a notebook. I just write lists, or prewriting, and as long as I'm writing in the notebook, I don't have writer's block."
On his inspiration, Cochrane said, "I don't really get inspiration. Maybe just from the real world, just ordinary, everyday life. ... I get my inspiration from the magic and strangeness in the real world."
His favorite part of writing? "I love the feeling of being totally absorbed in a story," he said. "For me, writing is like Molly throwing a knuckleball."
Jenna Kersten is a sophomore at Mount Mercy Academy.