Debbie Gonzales

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Podcast: The Debcast





When you were my age (10), did you like to read?

I loved reading non-fiction. Articles about bugs and bobcats fascinated me. Stories about people who had done extraordinary things inspired me. Science stories confounded me. I would lose myself in stacks of National Geographic magazines. It’s no wonder I’ve written a non-fiction picture book about gutsy women who impacted sports history, right?

What book has had an impact on you?

Wow. It’s hard to pick just one, but I’ll try. If I stick with the topic of sports novels, I have to say that Bruce Brook’s THE MOVES THAT MAKE THE MAN has made a lasting impression on me. Though the novel was written in 1984, it’s still one of the best expressions of how sports can become part of a person’s inner being. Not only is it an amazing story about an unlikely friendship between a black boy and white boy in a racially charged time in history, it addresses the topic of mental illness in a tender way. But the best part about the book is way that basketball is intrinsic to the protagonist’s character. The kid is so connected with the sport, he can juke and jive like the best of them in the dark without a ball. It’s a great book.

Is it hard to come up with book ideas? Why write a book about women’s sports?

GIRLS WITH GUTS was inspired by an assignment for school! While working on my master’s degree in writing for children and young adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the topic of my thesis was the history of the female athletic protagonist. I studied how and when our heroine showed up in books throughout history. There were times when she was represented as kind of silly and not serious about her sport. Later, she became a warrior, focused on winning at whatever the cost! It’s cool that the research became a book about the history of females in sports, and how overtime, she’s become a force to reckon with!

What author or book have read recently that impacted you?

Check out Stephanie Parsley Ledyard’s HOME IS A WINDOW and get set to be wowed. It’s a sweet story of a family who is moving across country. I absolutely love the text! The poetry is perfection. And, the subtle way that Pixar illustrator Chris Saski interpreted the message of the story is incredible. Moving isn’t about the stuff that is shipped across the nation, its about the love the family shares, no matter where they live.

Is there a new or lesser known author you think kids should be aware of?

In keeping with the strong women in sports theme, I encourage you readers to consider debut author Kim Chaffee’s HER FEARLESS RUN: KATHRINE SWITZER’S HISTORIC BOSTON MARATHON. It’s an amazing non-fiction picture book about a woman who dared to run the Boston Marathon at a time, not so long ago, and was openly threatened when she did. Kathrine Switzer is alive and well today, committed to empowering females through her 261 Fearless, a global network for women to connect and take control of their lives through the freedom gained by running.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?

Read. Read. Read. Be interested in anything and everything. Pay attention to what your teachers are telling you. Do your very on your assignments. You never know when an assignment might become a published book!

As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that?

I am having SO much fun with this book! I generally hear from my readers via social media. I love it when they post an image of their copy of the book and how much they’ve enjoyed reading it. This makes me so very happy.

If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?

I’d like to portal into the book that I am currently writing right now. It’s a ghost story about a girl named Tobi, who is the only female on a Little League team. It’s set in 1974, just after the time that Title IX was passed. I wish I could travel back in time to attend baseball practice with her, sit next to her in class, and encourage her as she struggles to live every day with a broken heart, one that only a ghost can heal.

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