I loved A Game Worth Watching so much, that as soon as I finished it, I emailed the author to tell her how much I loved her book and asked if I could interview here. Lucky for me she agreed. Here is my exclusive interview with Samantha Gudger, author of the young adult sports novel, A Game Worth Watching.
Exclusive Interview with Author Samantha Gudger
AIW: As you know, I absolutely loved your book, A Game Worth Watching, and I’m not really a big basketball fan, although I might be now. But what I really loved about your book was the character development. Emma’s home life is so messed up, and her character so perfectly fits that. I’m almost afraid to ask this, but how did you craft her so well? What was your inspiration for her?
SG: Emma’s character is one of those gems that just came to me. The more I wrote about Emma and her story, the more alive and developed she became. I think one thing that inspired her character and home life was that I worked at the Boys & Girls Clubs and heard all kinds of stories about kids in our Clubs who overcame rough family lives to rise above adversity and bless others. I wanted to capture this in my writing, therefore, I knew A Game Worth Watching had to be about more than just a good basketball player who turned the girls’ team around. Her resistance to joining the team, her opposition to girls, her low self-esteem—all of it centered around the kind of home life she had. At the beginning of the writing process for this story, I don’t think I intended her family to be that bad, but they took on a life of their own and, it all just made sense as the story developed.
AIW: What is one thing you hope readers take from A Game Worth Watching?
SG: That the world has need for each and every one of us. That each of us have talents that the world needs and we can bless those around us if we have the courage to let our light shine.
AIW: I’ve heard rumors you’re working on a sequel. Can you give us any idea when you might be ready to release it?
SG: Yes, I’m working on a sequel!! I would love to be able to tell you when it’s coming out, but this past year has sent me some curve balls, so I’m really not sure. Hopefully some time later this year. I can tell you that it’s coming along pretty well, and I’m really excited for all of you to read it.
AIW: You have a pretty busy life and I know writing is just one more thing you need to squeeze in, so where and when do you find that time and how do you get in the writing zone?
SG: Obviously I don’t find as much time as I need/want, otherwise, the sequel would be out already. 🙂 I used to be under the impression that if I didn’t have at least 2+ hours then it wasn’t really worth the time to sit down and try to write, but I’m realizing more and more that I have to take advantage of every five minutes of free time I have. Although I love to write, it seems like I can come up with a million excuses to distract myself and convince myself it’s never a good time to write, but I’m working hard to overcome this and be more disciplined to make time to write every day, whether it’s five minutes or 2+ hours. In terms of getting in the writing zone, sometimes it’s listening to the right music, sometimes it’s reading over one of my favorite scenes and remembering why I love the story and NEED to write it, and sometimes it’s thinking about a scene when I’m away from the computer and writing it in my head so when I sit down at my computer I know exactly what I will be working on. Other times it’s just a matter of sitting down at my computer with the mentality that I WILL write, no excuses.
AIW: Do you listen to music when you write? And if not, why not? If so, what kind of music inspires you?
SG: It depends on the mood I’m in. Most of the time I do listen to music, but other times music can be a distraction, so I go without it. I listen to all kinds of music, but the kinds of songs that inspire me are the ones that relate to the story I’m writing. For instance, when I write basketball scenes I like to listen to fast-paced songs with a good beat that drive the action forward. When I write scenes that focus on relationships, I listen to songs that encompass the emotions I’m trying to portray (ie. fear, heartbreak, hope, etc.). Given that, I usually develop a sort of soundtrack for each of my stories and compilations range from soft rock to country to alternative. In other words, the kind of music that inspires me is any that reminds me of the story/characters I’m writing about.
AIW: If you were to write another genre under a pen name and no one would know it was you, what do you think you’d choose and why?
SG: Hmmm, good question. Maybe paranormal or mystery because I like suspense and whodunnit stories, although I’m horrible at figuring out the guilty party. I also have doubts as to whether or not I’d be able to create the perfect world for these types stories, although they are fun to read. I’d love to write picture books too because I think reading for the children is so important and fun that I would love to create stories for this age as well.
AIW: Switching gears from writing to reading, most authors are also avid readers. What is one of the best books you’ve read in the past year?
SG: I would have to say Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (the finale to her Shatter Me series).
AIW: What is your favorite genre? Do you try to read young adult books with a sports theme, or do you find that thrillers are what you reach for to break away from all the angsty drama?
SG: When I find young adult books with a sports theme, I will oftentimes read it if it sounds interesting because it’s fun to actually see these books on the shelf. When I was growing up, books featuring female athletes were far and few between, so I get excited by the fact there are more and more of them nowadays for young people to read. In terms of my favorite genre though, I don’t know if I can pick because I just like good stories with strong female characters. I like paranormal romance, contemporary romance, fairytales, spy stories, mysteries…basically anything with a good story and characters.
AIW: What is one of your favorite young adult books of all time?
SG: I absolutely LOVE the Harry Potter series. In addition to great stories and characters, I love the good prevailing over evil that is seen throughout the Harry Potter books.
AIW: And finally, what does your bracket look like for this year’s NCAA tournament? Or do you not have one?
SG: Uh…yeah. I don’t have one (hangs head in shame).
All her life, people have told 17-year-old tomboy Emma Wrangton that she’s not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough to succeed in life.
Somewhere along the way, she started to believe them.
Without the promise of a respectable future after graduation, all Emma wants is to cherish her senior year by playing basketball with the guys and spending as much time as possible with her best friend before he heads off to some fancy university, leaving her behind.
But when the high school basketball coach recruits her to join the team—the girls’ team—Emma discovers life is anything but a slam dunk.
How is she supposed to know how to be one of the girls when all she’s ever been is one of the guys?
About the Author
A former three-sport athlete in high school, Samantha grew up with a ball in one hand and a book in the other. From the moment her first grade teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, Samantha knew she wanted to be an author.
Samantha currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, a ball-obsessed Australian Shepherd, and a cat that can’t get enough cuddle time. Books, writing, sports, music, and marshmallows top her list of favorites.
A Game Worth Watching is her first novel.