Matt Christopher | National Book Month

Matt Christopher transformed his love for sports into the setting for his numerous books for young readers. Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, hockey, mountainbiking, snowboarding, tennis - you name the sport, and Matt probably wrote a book about it.
In his writing career, Matt was the author of over 100 books. He has also been a professional baseball player, a teacher, and a baseball historian. Matt lived in Rock Hill, South Carolina and is remembered for both his writing and encouraging words to young authors.   
Tell us about your writing:
All of my books I write to entertain my readers. I want my feelings to be transferred to the kid who reads my books. In other words, if I start having teary eyes in some of my stories -- I find out later on that those who read the books feel the same way.
You need to trust that your emotions can be expressed on paper?
Absolutely, I think for anyone who is interested in becoming a writer, it is a number one priority. Feel what you write. When you feel it yourself while you are know you have something.
What made you want to write about sports?
In the beginning, I played so many sports that I did not care about writing about them. I wrote all kinds of stories - I remember writing some romance stories and my sister says, "What do you know about romance?"
Then I thought I would write sports stories once in a while because I knew about that. After a number of years went by, I did my first sports book. And I wrote that in four days. The Lucky Baseball Bat came out in 1954.
What is your favorite sport?
Well, I played a lot of baseball, football and soccer. My favorite has been baseball - I played a lot of that. I played football in high school and I love to watch football better than anything else.
Do any of the experiences your characters go through have to do with what you went through when you played baseball?
I have used many of my own experiences in my stories. I remember one particular time I was playing professional baseball - I played class C pro ball in Canada. It was a Yankee farm team. The ball was hit right over the base and I couldnÂ’t reach it with my glove so I caught it with my bare hand and I threw the guy out at first. I use that in one of my stories.
Are most of your books fantasies...or are some of them true?
I like fantasy a lot, so I incorporate it into many of my books. But they are not all like that, a lot of them are pretty realistic. The Great Quarterback Switch is a little bit fantasy, and The Basket Counts is more realistic. That is a story about a black boy that tries to adjust to a town where there are a lot of white kids. And he has a hard time getting on the basketball team.
We all have problems and I try to use all the problems that I and other kids had in the books that I write. Sports are the backdrop for these things.
What is your favorite book that you have written?
It's like a parent having nine children. Which one do you like the best? But with me, I like the most recent book that was published or that I have written. It's because I am closest to it.