Feature Interview: Winner of the Pete Delohery Award for Best Sports-Related Book

The Pete Delohery Award

We created the Pete Delohery Award in honor of the late indie author of the boxing-themed novel Lamb to the Slaughter. We’re proud to honor Pete’s creativity and passion for writing with this award. We talked to his wife Pat Delohery about Pete and his writing. 

Shelf Unbound: Tell us a little bit about Pete Delohery. 

Pat Delohery: Pete Delohery was born in Washington, D.C. in 1942. He received a B.S. and a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech; taught at Virginia Tech; was Town Engineer of Blacksburg, Virginia (home of Virginia Tech) and an engineering consultant in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though he was successful in engineering, his passion was always writing. Pete’s writing style immediately involves you in the story and the life of all his characters.

Shelf Unbound: And how about his novel Lamb to the Slaughter

Delohery: Lamb to the Slaughter is a novel about love and courage, sin and redemption. “Iron” Mike McGann, 32 years old, is facing the twilight of his prizefighting career. Desperate for his future, he has refused to honor his promise to his wife to quit the ring and start a family. In despair, his wife, Madge, is leaving him.

Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard, Mike’s next opponent, is the most menacing presence in prizefighting. He has won all 22 of his fights by knockout and is said to be a former enforcer for something called The Black Mafia. But behind Rufus Hilliard’s menacing ring presence lives a man nobody knows, a complex man who despises his own image.

Unexpectedly left alone before his bout with McGann, Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard is forced to confront the past that haunts him and the future he dreads. Charles “Charliehorse” O’Connell, Rufus’s cornerman, has been terrorized by a mob kingpin to sabotage him. O’Connell, who is an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler, blames himself for the ring deaths of two prizefighters. Trapped in a moral crisis, O’Connell must finally confront his “Cardinal Sin.” Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard vs “Iron” Mike McGann, just another fight shown on The Continuous Sports Network, but by the time it is over the lives of these and many others will be forever different.

Shelf Unbound: How did the idea for the book come to him? How long did it take him to write it? What was his writing routine? 

Delohery: Pete was very interested in boxing. We attended matches and/or watched boxing on TV. He also was very interested in people and how they handled problems. The two combined to create Lamb to the Slaughter, where three men connected by a championship match were all at a major crossroad in their lives. The novel is about love and courage, sin and redemption.

Pete took a sabbatical for one year and wrote two novels as well as short stories. The second novel was Lamb to the Slaughter. He would write all morning and work out with weights three days a week. Sometimes he would write after dinner and on the weekends.

Shelf Unbound: You have devoted yourself to promoting Pete’s book following his death in 2011. What does promoting his book mean to you? 

Delohery: Pete dedicated one year of his life to create this novel. There was a near miss but the novel was not published. One of my last promises to Pete was that I would get his novel published. The publication, translation of the novel into Spanish, and promotion reflect my belief in his novel and his dream.

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