Welcome to SPORTY GIRL BOOKS. At SPORTY GIRL, we want to give all girls the chance to love, watch, play, read, and write about any sport that interests them. We look forward to the day when the words, "You play like a girl," is the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

#WomenInBaseballWeek Interview with Rajani LaRocca and Much Ado About Baseball

Today is the final day of this year's Women in Baseball Week. What better way to end the week than with an interview with one of my favorite authors, Rajani LaRocca, whose book, Much Ado About Baseball, was released in June!

Rajani was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning novels and picture books, including Midsummer’s Mayhem (2019), Seven Golden Rings (2020), Red, White, and Whole (2021), Bracelets for Bina’s Brothers (2021), Much Ado About Baseball (2021), and more. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. 

Welcome to the Sporty Girl Book Blog, Rajani. We're so glad you could join us. Your main character plays baseball. Why baseball? Were you a baseball player growing up?

I didn't play baseball growing up, but my son played T-ball through high school ball, so I've been around a lot of baseball. I never appreciated the beauty of the game until I met my husband in college, and because of him, I grew to appreciate the pitcher vs. catcher duels, the sometimes leisurely pace, and the exciting plays on the bases.
Much Ado About Baseball combines baseball and Shakespeare. How did you come up with this idea?
I wanted to present the "other side" of the magical competition introduced in Midsummer's Mayhem, so I knew this story would involve Shakespeare and sports and math/science. I love Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing, which involves two main characters who have so much in common but can't stand each other until they get a little help from their friends. And I've always loved stories involving kids solving puzzles to save the day. So I ended up with a combination of Shakespeare, baseball, and math puzzles!

Tell us more about your main character, Trish.
When twelve-year-old Trish has to move to a new town again, she's worried about fitting in . . . especially as a girl who loves math and plays baseball. At her first summer baseball practice, she recognizes a teammate: Ben, the boy she beat in the spring's Math Puzzler Tournament. He can't stand her, and Trish knows he's going to discover her secret.
Ben hasn't played baseball in two years, and he doesn't want to play now. But once he realizes Trish is on the team, he knows he can't quit. And their team is terrible and can't manage to win a single game.

But then Trish and Ben meet a power-hitting older kid who tells them about his family's snacks that might help their team come together. And then they each find a book of mysterious math puzzles. Once they start solving the puzzles, they begin to form a tenuous friendship, and suddenly their team can't stop winning.

Then they come to a puzzle they can't solve, with disastrous consequences. Can Trish and Ben find a way to work together to find the "ultimate answer," or will they strike out when it counts the most?
What was your publication journey with this book?
This was a challenging book to write. I knew I wanted to write a companion novel to Midsummer's Mayhem, my debut. But it took me a long time to figure out how to write this narrative as dual POV, and to understand what the magical people in the book wanted. I found that writing a synopsis for the whole book really helped me figure out how everything fit together.
Do you have any favorite sporty girl reads? If not, what’s your all-time favorite read?
I love Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera, Karen Day's No Cream Puffs and Jen Petro-Roy's Life in the Balance.

Thank you so much, Rajani! To connect with Rajani and learn more about her and her books visit her at www.RajaniLaRocca.com.

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