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 writing...you 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.