THE PICTURE BOOK PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SELENA HASKINS
PBP: Tell us about your latest book, She Can Hoop
Selena: She Can Hoop is a story about a young girl named Jamie Carey. She wants to become a basketball player like her older brother, but she’s teased and bullied. Jamie must learn how to build confidence in herself to overcome bullying and keep pursuing her dreams.
PBP: Having read the book, I think young readers will find it entertaining and inspiring.
Selena: Thank you, I hope they will too.
PBP: You have written books in other genres in the past such as family saga, romance, and poetry. What made you decide to write a book for children this time?
Selena: I have always wanted to write something fun and exciting for children. When I was a kid, I loved finding books where I could relate to the characters. I wanted to reach out to a younger audience in that same positive way.
PBP: What was the inspiration behind the title, She Can Hoop?
Selena: The inspiration came from my love for the game. Ever since I was a kid I loved basketball. Back in the 80s, I was the only girl in the neighborhood who could play basketball.
PBP: Were you bullied as a kid, like the character Jamie? If so, how did you learn to overcome that?
Selena: Yes, I was teased and bullied when I was growing up. It wasn't just because I was a girl playing basketball, but I would get teased for other things too like the way I dressed or how I looked. Some kids can be cruel.
PBP: How did you overcome the bullying?
Selena: I was quiet in school. A lot of times, I would ignore it and swallow the hurt. Other times, I would counter back with a taunt or fight back if the situation escalated that far. When I played basketball, overcoming the teasing was a lot easier. My uncles helped me improve my game. When I started beating the guys who would tease me about being a girl who shouldn't play, they started respecting my game. Some of them would choose me to be on their teams. In hindsight, those experiences prepared me for tougher competition on and off the court.
PBP: I’m glad to hear that it made you stronger. The subject of bullying has more gravity today than it did in the 80s. Some people still bear the scars from bullying.
Selena: You’re right, some people still carry that pain. I’m just happy that the topic is taken more seriously today. Victims of bullying have a lot of support than they did when I was growing up. We have many advocacy groups for antibullying, workshops, and support groups.
PBP: Your book also conveys a message about choosing the right kind of friends. Do you think it's important for young people to be selective with whom they want to be friends?
Selena: Absolutely. I think it's important even for adults. The people we choose to associate with can have a powerful influence on our behavior and decision-making. Jamie eventually learns that.
PBP: I enjoyed the special relationship Jamie had with her brother, Carlton. It felt very authentic. He was her real friend.
Selena: I come from a very close-knit family, and I wanted to show that closeness with Jamie and her brother. Ironically, I named Jamie's brother Carlton after my late uncle who taught me how to play basketball.
PBP: Oh wow! Thanks for sharing that little-known fact. So, what age group would you say the book is appropriate for?
Selena: It's appropriate for young girls and boys between the ages of 8 and 12.
PBP: What was it like for you to work with an illustrator for this project?
Selena: I was a little nervous at first, but once I explained my vision to Ayan, he made it come true. The illustrations breathe life into the story.
PBP: It’s a good book overall. Do you think you will write another book like this in the future?
Selena: It’s possible.
PBP: What’s next for you in the literary world?
Selena: Good question. I haven't thought about it, but perhaps something spiritual.
PBP: Whatever you decide to write next, we would be happy to have you back on our show.
Selena: Thank you guys for having me.