GRACIE TRIVIA
Where did you get the idea for Gracie Goat's Big Bike Race?

I started working on the Barnsville Sports Squad stories while I was on the plane coming home from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  I wanted to write stories that would encourage kids to lead a healthy, active lifestyle and promote good sportsmanship fundamentals.  My hope was that the lessons in the stories would help kids not only in sports, but in every aspect of their lives.
When is the next book in the series going to be released?  What is it about?

The second book in the series will be released in the summer of 2008, just in time for the Summer Olympic Games.  It is about the Olympic sport of soccer.  The main character in the story is Shawn Sheep.  Gracie, Howard and the rest of the Barnsville Sports Squad are back in the second book as well.
Are any of the characters based on real people?

Most of the characters are loosly based on athletes I met while living and training at the Olympic Training Center.  There are certain aspects of me in many of the characters. 

Throughout my entire cycling career I was plagued by fear of failure.  It was something I had to learn how to overcome and control.  Gracie Goat's fear of failure is based on my own stuggles during my racing career.

Grandma Goat's character is based on my Grandma Helen. She flew planes, lived on a boat, and despite all of that was afraid to get her ears pierced.  When I was seven I was going to get my ears pierced as a birthday present.  Grandma figured if her granddaughter could get her ears pierced so could she, so we went together. 

It has been really fun to share each step in the publishing process with my Grandma.  When she saw the illustrations for the story, she said that she made a pretty good looking goat. 
What is your advice for aspiring authors?

Don't give up!  I started writing the Barnsville Sports Squad Series in 2000, but I didn't find a publisher until 2004 and we didn't sign a contract until 2005.  In the process I contacted a lot of publishers and I have a nice stack of rejection letters.  I believed that I had a good, original idea and I knew I needed to stick with it. 

The key was finding the right publisher.  One that had a similar focus and goals.