Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
I hope you’re enjoying the start to fall and basketball season because we’re jumping into a fantastic interview with debut author Madison Moore to chat about her picture book MORE THAN JUST A GAME: THE BLACK ORIGINS OF BASKETBALL, illustrated by Lonnie Ollivierre.
Summary: Today, the NBA is around 74% Black but, when basketball first started to catch on, it wasn’t easy for Black people to play. They couldn’t enter segregated YMCAs or attend privileged colleges. So Black Americans made their own spaces, playing in dance halls before the dancing started, and eventually forming teams called the Black Fives. More than Just a Game celebrates the history of basketball from a Black perspective, revealing how it changed Black communities and how they made the sport into what it is today.
Kaitlyn: Hi, Madison, thank you so much for joining us today!
Madison: I’m so glad to be here; thanks for having me!
Kaitlyn: My absolute pleasure! Can you share what inspired this story and a bit about its journey into the world?
Madison: There were quite a few things that came together at the perfect moment to bring me to this story. In late 2019 and early 2020, right before the pandemic started, I was doing some research on the history of sports for a potential editorial pitch (I was working as an Associate Children’s Book Editor). I was thinking about how the majority of the players in the NBA and the WNBA are people of color, but basketball was invented by a white person in a white space. I knew that there had to be an interesting history in that discrepancy. So, I started researching and found a pretty incredible story of basketball’s formation alongside the Black cultural revolution in the early 1900s. I pitched the book, and they were immediately as hooked by the history as I was.
So, I started writing! The writing and research process was about three months long. I was also very energized and inspired by the “bubble” NBA games and the visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement in sports during that time.
Kaitlyn: That’s amazing! I love when books are made based on wonderful inspiration and a great pitch. Can you share why you think stories like these are so important for our little ones to read about?
Madison: I think this history is SO important because it celebrates and highlights Black excellence! This is a story that most people are completely unfamiliar with, and it’s foundational to such a large part of our sports culture today. Young readers will be so inspired by these players overcoming incredible odds to become the best players on the court.
Kaitlyn: Yes yes yes! I agree! I was inspired reading this, and I can’t wait to hear about all the kids who are inspired by it, too. Now, the ending to this story is one of the best endings I’ve ever read! Filled with inspiration, heart, and relatability, can you share how you concocted this ending?
Madison: Thank you! We spend most of the book in the past, and so I knew I wanted to bring the end of the book back to today, and to the readers that will be holding this book. The idea of legacy and building from those who worked to make our world better is really important to the story, so I wanted to leave readers with that at the end.
Kaitlyn: You sure did! I’m still pumped up from reading this book and hope it inspires others to get out on the court, too! Okay, your dedication is one of the funniest and sweetest I’ve read. Can you share a bit more about your dedication?
Madison: Aw, yes! My dad played basketball in college and has always loved and been involved with the sport. I’m also very into athletics (gymnastics through high school, and now ultimate frisbee), but my dad says that I never had even a smidge of interest in playing basketball. My three siblings all played, but I never did! So this is my offering, 15 years later.
Kaitlyn: Haha, love it! I bet he’s so proud of you for all you’re doing and is going to be bragging to everyone about this phenomenal book. I believe you shared with me that you’re an artist as well. Is that correct? If so, how did you make the choice to have another artist illustrate this story?
Madison: Yes! I’m also an illustrator/maker, and that’s a super important part of my life. But, when I wrote MTJAG, I was just starting to enter the children’s book world, and I didn’t feel ready to jump in as both an author and illustrator. Stylistically, I’m also not really the right person for this book, so I was so happy to have Lonnie Ollivierre on board. But, that being said, I’m now working on my first dummies, and I’m so excited to start pursuing both sides of the picture book.
Kaitlyn: I love that your team found the perfect illustrator for this book and that we get to see an author-illustrated book from you soon, too! Can you share who your editor was for this book, and what you enjoyed about working with this editor? Also, if you’re up for it, I’d be super interested to know what it’s like working on your book with your colleagues.
Madison: My editor was Christina Pulles, and it was wonderful! Christina and I have both left Albert Whitman at this point, but we remain good friends, and I think working on this book together definitely helped to connect us. The editors and designers at AW are so great to work with, so it was honestly nice to get to share my work with them.
Kaitlyn: That’s amazing. I love when working relationships can blossom with a wonderful project. If you have a literary agent, can you share who your agent is and why you enjoy working with this agent?
Madison: I don’t have a literary agent right now. I actually have not sent any queries out, but I’m prepping a few different projects (like those dummies I mentioned), and plan to start sending them out to agents in the next several months. I’m really excited about starting that search!
Kaitlyn: Woohoo! So excited for you! The query trenches can be difficult, but I’m hoping for a very quick yes for you on your search for your agent partner. Can you share some advice you like to give to aspiring authors?
Madison: I think the most important part of being a writer to me is writing from a very personal place. Don’t try to chase trends, or write what you think will sell, or spend too long worrying about the “rules.” You’ll write your best story when you’re unconstrained and inspired. Write what you like!
Kaitlyn: If you’re up for putting your editor hat on for a bit, can you share what kind of submissions you like to look for and how writers can submit to you at Albert Whitman?
Madison: I’m actually not with Albert Whitman any longer! At the beginning of September I moved to an Editor position at C&T Publishing. We publish a wide range of arts and crafts books, and I’m loving it so much! So, I’m no longer acquiring children’s books. I miss that, but it’s also nice to use different creative energies during the day and in my free time, and I’m definitely staying connected to the kidlit world through my own writing and illustration, and through the books I can’t help but purchase every time I go into a bookstore.
Kaitlyn: That’s amazing, and what a great balance. And HAHAHA saaame here, can’t help but buy so many wonderful kidlit books. Now, can you please share with us what’s next for you or what you’re working on now?
Madison: I have so many ideas! I’m working on a few different picture books (again, like the dummies I mentioned), and I’m also working on some ideas for middle grade and graphic novels. I’m just having a lot of fun playing around with my ideas and writing without much of an agenda. I eventually plan to start looking for an agent to send more books out into the world, but I’m moving slowly.
I also do have a second book coming out in Fall 2022, called Bonnie’s New Old Outfit. I’m SO excited for this book, and I’m really enjoying starting to see sketches and art from the illustrator, Danielle Bennett.
Finally, I run a blog and newsletter on my website (linked below), so if you’re looking for regular updates from me, head there and to my instagram!
Kaitlyn: Ah! That’s all so amazing, and readers, make sure to subscribe to Madison’s wonderful blog; she has such a great eye and so much passion for books that it will be a wonderful place to subscribe. Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, historical figure, or mathematician would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Madison: This is a tough question! I think I’d have to choose an adventure. I’d get to chat with them, and we’d get to share an exciting experience together. What a fun thing to imagine!
Kaitlyn: Right?! Adventures are so fun, and especially with someone you look up to. Let’s hope you get to have this adventure someday! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining us today, Madison!
Madison: Thanks for having me Kaitlyn, and for your kind words about the book!
Kaitlyn: It was my pleasure!
Book info and links
Author Bio and links
I’m Madison Moore. I’m an artist and a maker and a writer!
I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2019 with BAs in English Literature and Visual Arts. Now I live in Chicago and am an Acquisitions Editor with C&T Publishing. I got my start publishing children’s books, but am now working in the lovely world of arts and craft books. I love talking about publishing and children’s lit. I play competitive ultimate frisbee with the club team, Chicago Nemesis, and for the professional team, the Milwaukee Monarchs.
I am also a children’s writer. My first book, MORE THAN JUST A GAME: THE BLACK ORIGINS OF BASKETBALL will be published on September 15, 2021.
Kaitlyn’s Review of MORE THAN JUST A GAME: THE BLACK ORIGINS OF BASKETBALL
This book is so inspiring and eye-opening. Please share this beautiful book with all the children in your life, especially those sports enthusiasts and history fiends!
Madison has been super generous and would like to giveaway the following:
-1 signed copy of the book (US only)
-2 manuscript critiques/consultations (picture books or illustration only)
To enter the random drawing, do any/all of the following options, then come back and write all of the things you did in ONE blog comment. (If you forget something, feel free to reply to your first comment ;))
- Share that you added MORE THAN JUST A GAME to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share that you ordered a copy of MORE THAN JUST A GAME
- Share that you did a purchase request for MORE THAN JUST A GAME at your library
- Share that you left a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble
- Share that you retweeted or quote retweeted my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tagged some friends.
Thank you all for supporting more amazing creators and for you patience while I’m getting blog posts and giveaways back on track. The work-life-agent-contest co-host-mom-blogger-and now soccer coach can be challenging, and I appreciate all your support, and I especially appreciate your patience with Lydia, Ameerah, and I read all your wonderful entries to select the Fall Writing Frenzy winners. Though of course, you’re all winners based on the wonderful stories, connections, and the supportive community you have all created – I’m such a proud contest mama!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez