Back when I was in grad school, at Minnesota State University, Mankato, students got in free to all sporting events, which was great for a poor college student like me. That meant hitting home hockey games was one our favorite (as in inexpensive) forms of entertainment. The Mavericks weren’t always the best team, but they played against the Badgers and Gophers, so we got to see some exciting games.
Like with all fun writing projects, you mix things you enjoy, and for The Science of Hockey, that’s exactly what I was able to do. Hockey + graphic novel format = my newest release into the world. It’s also my first book in the Max Axiom, Super Scientist series. He’s a character created by a couple friends of mine, Chris Harbo and Donnie Lemke. So it was doubly fun adding to Max’s legacy.
In grad school, at Minnesota State University, Mankato, friends and I would hit Mavericks’ hockey games whenever we got the chance. As students, we got in free, which was about all we could afford at that time in our careers. While I can’t claim to be a huge hockey fan, the games were a blast, sitting behind the opponents’ goal and harassing the visiting team.
But I must admit a guilty pleasure in seeing the Zamboni roll out between periods. Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with how this odd-looking, slow-moving machine worked. Not to mention, I’d be shouting along as the Gear Daddies classic “I Wanna Drive a Zamboni” blare over the arena’s speakers. When younger, I was envious of the person getting to drive it around—probably still am a little jealous.
So when given the assignment to write a graphic novel The Science of Hockey, I knew I had to dedicate a spread to the Zamboni.
My book is be part of the Max Axiom, super scientist series. And one futuristic device Max possesses is X-ray glasses. I thought he could use them to take a close look at how a Zamboni works. And since someone would be driving it around the rink at the time, I asked the illustrator to show the skeleton of the driver, something I thought was a humorous touch.
The Science of Hockey will be released this summer.
So I’ve written books on football, skateboarding, and soccer. All of which are sports that I either follow or take part in. But my newest book, Heavyweight Takedown, focuses on a sport I haven’t tackled yet. And while I can’t claim to be a wrestling fanatic, it holds a soft spot in my heart. I grew up watching “profressional” wrestling. I saw live the High Flyers defeat Jesse “the Body” Ventura and Adrian Adonis. Watched the Crusher take on Baron Von Rashke. Sure, it was fake, but it was fun to watch and mimic as I wrestled around with my cousins.
In high school, my interest switched to old Kung Fu movies. But then in grad school, I studied under Terry Davis, author of the Vision Quest, a cult-classic in the wrestling world. So when offered to write a book on wrestling, I had to take on the project, partly for it’s sentimental value and partly as homage to the professor who helped guide my writing career.
Summary: Kyle is the star of his junior high wrestling team’s A squad. Not only does he win most of his matches, but he’s also the heavyweight. So when a new kid, Kenny, shows up and challenges Kyle for the heavyweight spot (and wins it), Kyle’s confidence shrinks. Now on the B squad, Kyle is frustrated. He wants his team to do well, and Kenny is a good wrestler. But Kyle also wants to be on the A squad. Can Kyle come up with a way to help his team?
Skateboard Scare, I must admit, was based off of an incident I had late last summer. I took a spill on my skateboard, and along with the typical raspberries on my knees and elbows, I sprained my wrist pretty badly. I was iffy about getting back on for months after that, and my lack of confidence actually made me a little wobbly on my board. But after another fall, in which I didn’t get hurt, I realized that accidents are just going to happen, and we can’t them hold us back from from doing what we enjoy. It’s a lesson Jess learns in Skateboard Scare.
Here’s my third book in the Tony Hawk Live2Skate series. And I must admit that these books have inspired me to get back on my board. While I can’t do half of the tricks I describe in this story, the one thing I share with Lei, the main character, is that I like to use my skateboard as a fun mode of transportation. It’s often how I get back and forth to the library, to pick up research books for my latest project.
Summary: Lei and her crew know their skatepark is run down and nothing special, but its theirs and they are proud of it. So when a crew of older boys move in to claim the park as their own, Lei isn’t going to just step aside and let them. She challenges the boys to a skate off — trick for trick. Half of her crew is ready to give up the park, while the boy she’s crushing on tries to step in and come between her and trouble. Lei is determined to prove that she can skate and that she can take care of herself. Part of Tony Hawk’s Live2Skate series, Daring proves that work and determination can take you far.
With the World Cup starting up in a little over a week, it’s great timing on my newest release, National Geographic Kids EVERYTHING Soccer. While working on this book, I even interviewed Omar Gonzalez, a star defender for Team USA.
Summary: Score! Finally, a book that explains everything about soccer—a favorite team sport played by millions of kids around the globe. From patches of dirt to gleaming turf, soccer is a game for all. Meet soccer’s superstars. Learn the rules. Get kitted up, get out on the field, and show off your fancy footwork.