Monday, October 30, 2023

Q&A with Shari Green


Photo by Pedersen Arts Photography



Shari Green is the author of Game Face, a new middle grade novel in verse. Her other books include Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles. She lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 


Q: What inspired you to write Game Face, and how did you create your character Jonah?


A: I’ve been a hockey fan since I was a kid, cheering on the Habs in the ’73 playoffs. A couple decades later, I’d become a “hockey mom” as well as a fan, so when I eventually found a hockey story brewing, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.


I was excited to tell a story that included this sport I love, but it wasn’t until I got to know Jonah that I felt compelled to write Game Face.


For me, character creation comes by “writing my way in”—into the character and into the story—by freewriting snippets of internal dialogue that reveal the character’s heart and wounds and hopes, and mini-scenes that hint at what may become key moments.


So for Jonah, basically I just started writing! When I realized how much anxiety impacted Jonah both on and off the ice, I knew I needed to tell his story.


Q: The writer Lorna Schultz Nicholson said of the book, “Everything about the novel is honest and real — from the hockey action, friendships, family dynamics and anxiety that Jonah and his father face.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think anytime a reader says a book rang true for them, that it resonated with their heart or knowledge or experience, it gives the author a huge lift.


Partly, it’s just a relief to know all our research and writing and rewriting somehow managed to hit the mark for that reader. But it also speaks of connection—a connection that feels magical, and storytelling is about making that connection, isn’t it?


This is all a long way of saying that Lorna’s description of the book felt like a gift, and I’m grateful.

Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: My personal experience gave me a good starting point—my experience as a hockey fan, as a person with anxiety, and as a nurse—but I still needed to do some research.


I’m not sure anything came up that was truly surprising, but I always love the learning and discovery along the path of writing a novel.


I researched anxiety in kids and teens, and read personal stories of competitive athletes with mental illness.


I also connected with a medical specialist about Ty’s condition, talked to others about their experiences with anxiety, and talked to a school counselor about their role and approach when working with a student with anxiety. I also ran the manuscript past a few hockey players for their feedback on all things hockey.


Then, I just let Jonah be Jonah, experiencing anxiety (and hockey, and relationships) in his own unique way, trusting that the background research I’d done would ensure Jonah’s experience felt authentic to readers.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: Generally speaking, whatever they need. A bit of entertainment? Great. A bit more understanding and compassion toward those dealing with mental illness? Excellent.


But the thing I really hope readers take to heart is that it’s okay to need help, and it’s a brilliant and wise thing to ask for help when we need it. We don’t have to do the tough stuff alone.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have a YA verse novel coming out next year—Song of Freedom, Song of Dreams, about protest, hope, complicated first love, and the power of music, set in East Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall.


And a short story, "Anne of the Silver Trail," in an Anne of Green Gables anthology, also in 2024.


And as always, I’m at work on a new story—another verse novel—but I’m not sharing any details yet!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love connecting with readers and verse-novel fans (or really, bookish folks of all sorts!). I’m not terrific at keeping up with social media, but I try. Your best bets for finding me are Instagram (@shari_green) and via my website (


Thank you for the wonderful questions, Deborah!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Shari Green.

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