Hello everyone! So, I’m excited because today’s interview is with Callie Allen, the author of Michigan Vs The Boys which sounds so cool (lol)! Before we get into the (not spoilery) interview, here is a synopsis of the book, via Goodreads:
1) To start off, how did you come up with the idea for Michigan vs The Boys and what was first running through your mind right after you thought of the idea for it?
Michigan is actually the second hockey book I wrote. The first is unpublished (it was the book that got me my agent), but it was so good for my soul to write that book. My main character played for a boys’ team that was very supportive– a common situation in real life. But I knew I’d only told half the story. Almost immediately after finishing that manuscript, I started writing the other half of the story; the girl who plays on a boys’ team that isn’t so welcoming and supportive.
2) Going off my previous question, was there a specific reason you wanted to write about hockey instead of any other sport?
I’ve written about gender inequity and inequality in other sports, but what makes this story work is that Michigan‘s experience is very much entwined in real-life hockey subculture. It’s hard to picture her in any other setting!
3) From reading your bio, it says you were in sports medicine and, from your Twitter, I can tell you really like sports! Considering that, do you think it was easier to do research for Michigan vs The Boys?
Honestly, MICHIGAN didn’t take much research — unless you count twenty years of playing, reffing and coaching hockey! However, when I work on projects about other sports, I watch highlights/competitions, read rule books and judges’ manuals, even go to competitions if I can. It’s essential to pick sports I enjoy because I’m going to spend a LOT of time watching them!
4) Going off my previous question, were there any specific experiences in your life that you think lend themselves to you becoming a writer/writing Michigan vs The Boys?
Michigan‘s story is fiction, but very much inspired by real life. There is a culture in hockey that makes you prove your worth– doubly or triply so if you’re a girl. Very often, you’re treated differently, and inferior. You don’t merit a real locker room. You are in a goldfish bowl on the ice– any mistake you make is magnified by that ponytail on your back. I wanted to shine a light, not necessarily on the inequities of the sport, but on the women who are bold enough to take that abuse in order to play the sport they love.
5) Is Michigan based on you or anyone you know in real life?
There’s a lot of me in Michigan, and there are a lot of Michigans in real life! There’s a sisterhood in hockey; we’ve been there, we know what it’s like. There’s a shared experience and knowledge and I most definitely gave that to Michigan as well.
6) If you weren’t a writer, what do you think your job would be?
Whew, that’s tough. I worked in sports medicine for years but left to have a family– it is not a family-friendly profession. I wouldn’t want to give up the time I have now with my daughters, so I don’t plan on returning. I would love to go back to coaching hockey. Or to own a bookstore/bakery. With a rink next door. Professional puppy cuddler? Is that a thing?
7) What is your favorite thing about writing and what is your least favorite thing?
I love drafting! I’m a pantser, so I just step into my character’s shoes– or skates!– and go through the story with them. I’m less enthralled with revising, but I do love that sense of pride when I’ve finished a revision!
8) Was there anything you found surprising either in writing the book or in the pre-debut process in general?
I’m still amazed at all that I don’t know! The debut process is a roller coaster: periods of unsettling silence and then cramming hard work into short days, waves of anxiety and then waves of excitement. I try to enjoy the highs and keep myself busy during the quiet periods. I soak up as much new information as I can and I ask a LOT of really really really rookie questions.
9) Is there any advice you have for writers hoping to become a published author?
Write what you love. It may be as niche as hockey, or a setting that is special to you. You’re going to spend a lot of time in that place and you need to be able to sustain a level of passion for that story. Give yourself a book that feeds your soul.
10) And, for the final question, Michigan vs The Boys is about hockey so I gotta ask: what is your favourite hockey team and why?
The United States Women’s National Team! I went to my first national team game right before the 1998 Olympics, the year that women’s hockey debuted as a gold medal sport. It was the first time I got to watch elite women play my sport. The ultimate match-up, of course, is a USA/Canada Olympic gold medal game. The level of hockey is astounding on both sides of the ice; fast, skilled and passionate!