All craziness talk aside, I’ve officially started writing my new YA novel, BUMP. So far, I’m only a few pages into it, but I’m happy to be working on something new. As much as I love TEAM MERRYWEATHER, my MC Amber, and her friends, I was ready to dig into a new character and a grittier subject. This new novel is already presenting me with a big need, though:
Normally, when I think about the topic of research, I groan (sometimes inwardly, sometimes audibly). In fact, when one of my professors from my Masters program suggested I continue my education and get a PhD (“I know you would be able to write an excellent dissertation…”), I balked. While I may have the ability to do research and write nonfiction, I rarely have the desire to do so. Even if it does mean becoming “Dr. Phillips.”
But in this case, I’m excited about my research.
Last week, I drove down to Lincoln, NE to the university to one of my favorite venues, Memorial Stadium. And while it would have been fun to jump into one of the many tour groups congregated just inside the entry (behind the Tom Osborne/Brook Berringer statue), I had another purpose for being there. I was meeting with Laura Buttermore (formerly Pilakowski), a strength and conditioning coach for (among other sports) volleyball. Since she was a stand-out college player (AVCA All-American, Academic All-American, first team All Big XII, Big XII Female Sportsperson of the Year) and continues to work with the Athletic Department (and happens to be one of the nicest people ever), I knew she would be an ideal person to talk to for my research. She and I were in school at the same time and had met on a couple of different occasions, and I hoped she would be willing to help me out (again, mostly because she’s one of the nicest people ever).
My main character, Mina (Thanks to Chris Kilroy for giving your input for her name!), is a very successful high school volleyball player, being recruited to play in college. Since the last time I played competitive volleyball was my freshman year of high school (unless of course, you count this spring’s sand volleyball league at Digz), and I NEVER had to worry about being recruited to do anything athletic (I am a dancer, not an athlete.), I knew that I would need assistance in providing authenticity for Mina’s recruiting experience. I have an athlete in my family, my brother Matthew Mimick, who played football at Nebraska Wesleyan and a good friend, Demoine Adams, who played football at Nebraska, but I knew that neither of them would be able to give me the point of view of a volleyball player, especially when football recruiting classes are vastly different than volleyball recruiting classes. Thus, Laura.
Laura gave me incredibly valuable information on the process that players (and teams) go through when they are being recruited to play at the next level. The last thing I want to have happen is for a high school volleyball player to pick up a copy of my book (which I am going to assume will eventually be published – how’s that for positive thinking?), start reading, and go, “Wait, that’s not how it works.” I am striving for my novel to provide a realistic view of the recruitment process. So I am very grateful to Laura for taking the time to chat with me and know that her expertise will be an important part of what goes into this book.
And though I’m sure it will sound cliche, through taking the time to talk to me and answer all of my questions, Laura helped prove once again, there really is no place like Nebraska.