Hometown author brings Tiger Town, spiritual warfare to readers

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published August 22, 2017


ROYAL OAK — There are a couple of subjects weighing on author Dan Calabrese’s mind.

“I would say there are two things that I really know a lot about,” Calabrese said. “One is spiritual warfare and the other is baseball.”

The Royal Oak resident and lifelong writer recently combined both subjects in his latest book, “Backstop,” a spiritual thriller based in Lakeland, Florida.

The story focuses on Darius Wilson, a low-level minor league catcher and son of a preacher from Kansas City, who lands himself a spot in Tiger Town. After defying his father’s wishes to follow in his pastoral footsteps, he follows his baseball dream only to encounter evil spirits.

“He realizes that there is all kinds of spiritual chaos going on right there,” Calabrese said. “So, he came here to get away from his father’s world and just play ball, but he suddenly realizes that he has to deal with all that’s going on and draw on everything he’s learned.

“And it culminates in quite a hair-raising event that involves a threat to the entire team as they are coming north from spring training.”

Calabrese said he feels that the storyline and his characters are relatable.

“I think, also, baseball fans will really like it because I think it is a very smart baseball book,” he said. “There is a lot about the game that is fun and true to life.”

The Royal Oak writer has been to spring training in Lakeland 12 times, and he frequently visits in the summer as well.

“I thought it was an interesting setting for a story like this,” he said.

According to his Amazon reviews, most readers agree. Reviews say, “A good read,” “Very interesting story,” and “Sports and spiritual warfare combine for an exciting adventure that makes one wonder just how much goes on around us that we are not aware of.”

Calabrese said he likes to draw on places he is familiar with in his books. His first books are a series set in Royal Oak.

The author describes all of his books as a lit bit grittier than traditional Christian novels.

“They are designed to be true to what the Gospel says, including spiritual darkness and redemption,” he said.

Calabrese said that although his content may not be embraced by the Christian community because of the heavy, dark nature, he believes he tells stories that are true to life and describes problems that are true to scripture. He said all spiritual warfare he writes about is rooted from scripture.

“I think that you can make stories that are just as good, based on the spiritual world as conceived in the Bible,” he said. “Since I am a Christian, that is how I like to tell my stories.”

Calabrese said that because spiritual warfare is such a heavy subject, he likes to tell the stories through relatable characters and good storytelling.

“With a good story, you never know what is going to happen,” he said.

This is the fourth novel Calabrese has written, and he most recently began production on two TV shows, “Double Down” and “Baltimore” for his North Star Network.

Calabrese said the TV network was created for high-quality, Christian programming, and he has no doubt that this endeavor that he was called toward will be successful.

“It was something that I heard in prayer — that I was stopped to do,” he said.

Along with starting his own network, Calabrese also self-publishes his books.

Calabrese grew up in Royal Oak, and after living in Grand Rapids for 13 years, he returned to his hometown last year with his wife, Angie, and son, Tony.

He said his wife has been an integral part of his writing career, serving as his editor.

“Being his wife, I’ve been reading his material for years,” Angie Calabrese said. “He’s such a clean writer that I don’t even consider it work to be his editor.”

While living in Grand Rapids, Calabrese was a pastor and taught a class on spiritual warfare. He also serves as editor in chief of the online commentary site owned by former presidential candidate Herman Cain, and as a contributor to the Detroit News politics blog.