New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions was voted for by kiwi kids all around New Zealand as a finalist in the Children’s Choice list for the Book Awards. Author Maria Gill has written many book awards finalists, including New Zealand Hall of Fame, which won the non-fiction category of the Children’s Choice awards in 2012.
Maria is a fulltime writer, and lives in Matakana. We wondered how she came up with her latest book, and how she narrowed down the sports stars, and this is what she told us.
1. As an author, you must have a lot of ideas floating around. How did you decide to write this book in particular?
In past awards the judges said there was a need for more books for boys – and where were the sports books. I had intended the New Zealand Hall of Fame book to be part of a series, and a sports book seemed the obvious one to do next.
2. Tell us a bit about the journey from manuscript to published work. What was the biggest challenge you faced in publishing this book?
First of all I had to decide who I was going to include in the book. The list of 25 sports people was constantly being revised. I even polled people – should I have Dan Carter or Richie McCaw? I contacted sporting agencies and asked them who they would recommend. I had to weigh a sporting legend up, who the target age might not know, against an up-and-coming star that they would know. Then I had to gather information about the sports stars, and that proved to be quite a challenge for some of them.
Sometimes they were touring overseas and were impossible to contact. If someone had written a biography about them, I could read that and take notes. If there wasn’t a biography, I had to trawl through a lot of newspaper articles, radio and television interviews to put a story together about them. Problems occurred if the media articles were incorrect. We sent each sports person/manager their biography and asked if they could fact check it. This helped to prevent any misinformation being printed in the biographies.
3. How did you tailor this book to the age-group it reaches?
Marco Ivancic’s life-like caricatures immediately draw the age group to the book. I wrote the biographies from when the sports people were their age (8-14 years) and included any problems they had to overcome. I wanted kids to realise that problems can be overcome, and dreams reached. A constant message that came through the book was that it takes a lot of dedication to make it to the top. Everyone has the potential to do that if they are prepared to do the hard work. I also included the sports stars training programme and at the back of the book kids can write up their training schedule. They can also set goals to help them achieve their sporting dreams.
4. Who have you dedicated this book to, and why?
I dedicated the book to my Dad. When I was young, he always encouraged us to do sport such as athletics and ice skating. He had organised one of the first national sporting events in New Zealand and was mad keen on many types of sports.
5. Can you recommend any books for children/young adults who love this book?
David Riley has written some chapter books on famous sports stars such as Jammin’ with Steven Adams, Off-loading with SBW and Steppin’ with Benji Marshall.
6. What is your favourite thing to do when you aren’t reading or writing, and why?
I love to dance. I started ballet when I was five years old but gave it up at nine years of age. (Mum had to catch two buses with three kids for me to do it.) I figure skated for a few years and competed nationally. In my early twenties, I returned to dance and have been doing it regularly since. All the dancers in my ballet class are over 40 years old now. We can still do a mean pirouette. I love to dance because I am exercising while doing something creative.
For more information about Maria Gill or New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions, go to Maria’s website.
Teaching notes for the title are here.
Bob Docherty has reviewed the title here.
We are drawing to the end of the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults children’s choice blog tour, with just two days left! Our last feature was about The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems, by Paula Green & Myles Lawford, on Sarah Jane Barnett’s website The Red Room. Tomorrow, we will feature A New Zealand Nature Journal, on NZ Green Buttons.
To be in to win a copy of New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions, comment on this Facebook post to tell us your favourite sports star.