This picture is from 2004 so if you ever see me in real life, don’t be surprised if I look older. I don’t like having my picture taken but had to when my book came out (Going For the Record, Eerdmans BFYR), so this is it until a better one comes along.
I am an author of middle grade and young adult novels. I’d call what I write Tomboy Jock Lit, as opposed to ‘chick lit,’ except there’s a harshness to that which doesn’t match the personality of my main characters. Makes me think of a brash, gum-chomping smart-alek who’s all brawn and concerned with portraying herself as tough inside as well as out, and that’s not who my characters typically are. Tomboy Jock Lit with Heart or Soul or Depth might be better. Or Sensitive Tomboy Jock Lit. My tomboys, or jocks (they’re not always both; I have one who’s a girly jock-ette), are not very tough on the inside (the jock-ette thinks she is). They’re pretty sensitive people, much to their own chagrin. They love their sports and climbing trees and all that rough and tumble nature-girl stuff, and they try not to show their vulnerability/insecurities, but they don’t put on an act of being puffed-up. They have a hard time doing cocky. So that’s who I write about, determined Strong-but-Silent types, with an occasional boy or drama queen main character thrown in there.
Another reason I hesitate to label my writing ‘sport stories’ or ‘tomboy jock lit,’ is that I’ve heard from a number of readers who say they almost didn’t pick up Going For the Record because they saw by the cover it was about soccer/sports, but that when they started reading it, they were instantly hooked and surprised to find it was not primarily a sports story, that it was something anyone could enjoy, whether interested in sports or not (in fact, I’ve had boys tell me they liked it as well; when I do school events where it’s assigned as required reading in middle school English classes doing a unit on it, boys often come up and bashfully admit they never thought they’d like a book ‘with a girl on the cover’). To me, girls are so much more than gender-role stereotypes and sports are so much more than, “Who won the championship?!” or “Did she make the team?!” And that’s what I want my stories to reflect and I’m glad readers who aren’t athletes or sports fans, or even girls, agree that Going For the Record does that. My other stories are the same in that way; yes, there are scenes with sports action, but the main character is not just a jock, not ‘just’ a girl.
My husband Steve and I have three kids, two girls and a boy. We’ve lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for the past 14 years and love it here. But we both grew up on lakes in Michigan, so we still think of that as home, too. Steve’s been a college women’s soccer coach for almost as long as we’ve been married (and recently coached the US Women’s Under-20 National Team to a World Cup Championship in Japan in September 2012) so that’s what made it easy for me to write Going For the Record from the point of view of a high school soccer star. Most of my stories feature girls who play basketball, however, as that’s the sport I was obsessed with from junior high through college.