1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work. How did you become an author?
I come from a family of athletes. My sister and brother both played collegiate tennis, and I played three sports in high school. I lettered in basketball, soccer, and softball. Ever since I was a young child—and I’ll date myself—we had access to a Weekly Reader that we used each week in school. There was a section in it where you could write about whatever your passion was. I always wrote about sports.
I think I started having the Weekly Reader in third grade, and even then, I would tell people that I wanted to be an “arthur.” I couldn’t say “author”—couldn’t pronounce it—but I knew that I wanted to write, and I wanted to write about sports because I was a tomboy. I would play with all the kids in the neighborhood—it didn't matter if they were boys—and we would play football, and baseball, and basketball. From that experience, I always knew that I wanted to chronicle the happenings in the sports world. I was always fascinated with sports at a young age. That was my passion, and it still is.
I live in Arlington, Virginia, with my husband and two children. It's a great community.
2) Do you gravitate toward specific genres in your writing? Who is your ideal reader?
I write primarily nonfiction sports books. As to my ideal reader, I guess that depends upon the book. Some of my books have been geared to adult women and adult men--the Game-Day Goddess Sports Series. I also have kids' books--the Game-Day Youth Sports Series and Binkie Learns to Fly, and those are geared for children kindergarten and up.
For the sports books, the message I’m trying to get across to people is that sports are not difficult to understand. They are very easy if you understand a few simple concepts. Also, sports can be a lot of fun. Whether you’re a gal or a guy, you don’t need to be afraid of sports because, yes, some who have played the game before or who watch it more than you might know more than you now, but with these books you can really learn a lot quickly. They're written in simple language, so that you can pick it up in a speedy way.
With Binkie Learns to Fly, I want people to know that they can overcome doubt.
3) Tell us about your Game Day series. How did you develop this concept?
I told my Dad that I had this idea about writing a book, but I didn't know it would lead to a series. I always liked to bounce ideas off my father. He said, “Yeah, I think that’s really good because to know a game you really have to understand the language of it. Then, once you understand the language, you can learn more about the rules and how the game’s played.”
So, I was trying to aim the first book for those who were beginners learning the game and also those with a sophisticated knowledge of the game. I had different reviewers, including friends—men and women—and my Dad—and they all seemed to like it.
What I decided to do, too, was to make the books humorous. I didn’t want them to be dull. I made them pocketbook-sized, brief and concise, but factual. That has aided in their success because people enjoy them, they can relate to them, and they find the books entertaining. That has helped sales and made the books popular among women, men, and youths.
My son was learning to swim, and he had doubts about whether he should jump in the pool because the water may have been too cold, or he was not sure if he’d float. I told him that I would write a book for him if he tried.
Binkie Learns to Fly is a heartwarming story about a butterfly, an insect afraid to fly until he gets encouragement from his mother, who points out the joy of seeing the world. At first timid, Binkie butterfly gains confidence and then learns to soar in the air, overcoming his fear and relishing flight. This is an upbeat book for babies through preschoolers, with an extended market to younger children, who may want to read the book to a sibling, neighbor, or friend.
I try to have as many print, radio, and television interviews as possible. I also like to connect with others in the writing community, such as yourself, to let people know about my books. Additionally, I've taught classes about sports at athletic clinics, so that exposes me to a variety of people.
Each method has worked well, so I'm an advocate for using all types of methods and media to get the word out.
6) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your reading list right now?
My favorite author is Somerset Maugham, who wrote Of Human Bondage, a wonderful book. I'm also fond of John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway. I love to read The Wall Street Journal each day, in addition to books, and my Parents and Parenting magazines.
I'm working on reading the classics now because they are certainly worth reading. What I'm tackling now is Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. With my busy schedule, it may take me some time!
I won't hesitate to say that I enjoy listening to my kids as they read Junie B. Jones and Matt Christopher books. Believe it or not, I share an interest in those, too!
Although you may feel deflated because your book has been self-published, the whole realm of publishing has changed such that I don't think it really matters if you have a traditional publisher or put the book together on your own. As long as a book is done well--with proper research, writing, and editing--I think the target audience does not really care about the publishing aspect. The audience is hungry for information or a good read--whether you have an agent or a publisher is of little concern to them.
8) When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.
I’m a coach of sports for my kids. I coach basketball, baseball, and soccer, and I’m also a mother and a wife. So I have a lot of roles that I play in my everyday life.
I always try to remember that there are only 936 Saturdays between when my kids were born and when they leave for college. Although that number may sound like a lot, it's really not. So those moments I have with my kids and family are precious, and even though I have the challenge of juggling my adult life, I try not to let it prevent me from appreciating and enjoying their childhood by doing things with them that they enjoy.
I am working on Game-Day Youth: Learning Football's Lingo. It will come out later this year, and it is another book in the Game-Day Youth Sports Series. These are perfect books for kids who, for instance, may play basketball, football, or baseball in gym class. They may play it with their friends at the local park, or they may play in a league, or they may want to watch the game on TV with Mom, Dad, or a friend. They might want to learn about how the game is played. These books are primers—whether they’ve just started out playing or whether they’ve played for several years. They’re helpful in learning the language of the game. If they don’t understand certain terms, there’s lingo in the back of the book that’s alphabetized, and all they have to do is flip to the back, and if they hear a term, they look it up and find out what it means. It’s helpful for a boy or a girl to use the books to learn the language of the game and how to play the game. Parents love them, too!
10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?
I learned to be persistent. With my books, I thought I had a good idea and wanted to press forward with it. Contact a lot of people at different firms until you get the "yes" you are looking for. You shouldn't let the first person who said "no" stop you from going forward.
Suzy Beamer Bohnert launched her writing career with a job as a newspaper sports editor. During that job, she interviewed numerous coaches, athletes, and fans about sports, putting complicated games into simple words. She has written six books, including Game-Day Goddess: Learning Baseball's Lingo; Game-Day Goddess: Learning Basketball's Lingo; Game-Day Goddess: Learning Football's Lingo; Game-Day Youth: Learning Baseball's Lingo; Game-Day Youth: Learning Basketball's Lingo; and the fiction children's book Binkie Learns to Fly.
Her basketball, baseball, and football titles have been named Best Books for College Students by StudentAdvisor.com, a Washington Post Co. She also claimed the Best Books for Teen Boys Award from the New Hampshire Library Media Association.
The Mom's Choice Awards named Game-Day Youth: Learning Baseball's Lingo as the "Most Outstanding Nonfiction Children's Book."
The winner of eight national awards for writing excellence, including the Blue Pencil, Gold Screen, Ragan Communications, and MarCom Awards, she lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband, Randall, and son and daughter, where she helps coach her kids' basketball, baseball, and soccer teams.
Her books are available in paperback and e-book format on http://mysite.verizon.net/suzybohnert, www.amazon.com, and www.bn.com. She also has a line of Game-Day Goddess and Game-Day Youth T-shirts at http://www.zazzle.com/gamedaygoddess.