Tickle the Light by Mike Looney.

East Dallas neighbor Mike Looney recently released Tickle the Light, his final book.

Looney, who moved to our neighborhood with his family in 1963, spent most of his career as an insurance broker before beginning writing projects.

“I just started thinking, I can’t just only do this,” Looney says.

Looney actually wrote the book years ago and, feeling embarrassed about a sex scene included in the story, didn’t want to publish it right away. But his wife, Sandra, encouraged him to because Looney based several characters on some family members.

Our neighbor writes by hand, not on a computer. He does about a page a day and then hands it to his office assistant, who transfers the writing to a digital document.

The book follows the story of Joe Donley. Donley, who’s in his 40s, has family and friends, but he still feels like life is passing him by. He had a career in professional sports, but it ended before he was 20 when he was hit in the head with a baseball. Surgery prevented his death, but he wasn’t able to play anymore. As a middle-aged person, he decides to participate in a baseball fantasy camp for fun. His performance is spectacular. So the team invites Donley to try out, and he makes it, becoming the MLB’s oldest rookie.

At that point, Donley is older than the rest of the pros. But he’s able to compete because of a pituitary gland transplant, which gives him the reflexes a coordination of a young person.

“What I did here was make a very unbelievable story really believable because I used a brain surgeon, the leading brain surgeon in the world, a guy named Duke Samson who was head of neurosurgery over at Southwestern Medical School,” Looney says.

Samson invited Looney to watch a brain surgery.

“It was pretty frightening,” Looney says.

Mike Looney.

Over the course of the book, Donley gets into trouble and has to deal with the consequences, as he lives the life he always wanted.

“His wife and family just want him to come home,” Looney says. “In the end, it’s a coming home story. It’s a story about family.”

The first book Looney wrote was Heroes Are Hard To Find, which came out about 20 years ago and is set at Woodrow Wilson High School. He also wrote The Battle of The Bulge: The Untold Story of Höfen, a nonfiction story about his father, who served in World War II. And the other book was the adaptation of a documentary film Looney helped create, The Big Shootout: The Life and Times of 1969.


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