Interview: Author Heather Payer-Smith

Kid Lit Reviews welcomes Heather Payer-Smith, author of The Best Basketball EVER, with illustrator Charina Tolentin.  This may turn into a sports themed series.  You can read the review of The Best Basketball Player EVER after midnight tonight, right HERE!

Heather Payer-Smith - author 2013..

BBPE Front CoverThe Best Basketball Player EVER

Heather Payer-Smith, author


What inspired you to write about a video game-addicted basketball player?

The inspiration behind The Best Basketball Player EVER (BBPE) was two-fold.  Part of that inspiration was prompted by the growing movement toward encouraging kids to be more healthy and active.  Writing BBPE was my way of showing kids the rewards of getting out and actually DOING something versus relying on video games and television to entertain and occupy their time.   The second thing that I hoped to accomplish with this story is to inspire kids to not give up when something seems hard.  We live in a society of “want it now, get it now” – where attention spans are shorter and patience doesn’t quite hold out as long as it used to.  I wanted to help instill the notion that hard work and perseverance pays off.

 Is this your first children’s book?  If not, what else have you written?

I have several children’s books available, actually.  I have written and illustrated two early readers (The Little Green Umbrella and A Recycled Christmas) a middle-grade book for girls (Growing Up Mabel) and have two books published in a Young Adult series (The Nameless World Series).  You can learn more about my other titles by visiting

 Please describe your favorite writing space and tell us what makes it so special.

I love this question!  I actually wrote the majority of my very first book (The Nameless World) at a Panera Bread café/restaurant.  I just love the cozy atmosphere of Panera Bread – and, of course, easy access to all the wonderful food and beverages is definitely a perk of writing at that location.

How did you learn how to write for children?

At first, writing for me was just an experiment, but as I plowed through my first few drafts of children’s books (most of which are still hidden away on my computer) I began to get a feel for my style as a writer.  To help refine my craft, I took a couple of writing workshops and attended writing conferences and also took time to read other children’s books that were out there.  Reading allowed me to revisit the stories that have withstood the test of time as well as see what new concepts were being presented to kids today.  However, true to the lesson I try to present in BBPE, the best way to learn anything is to practice, practice, practice!  🙂

 What advice would you offer to an aspiring author looking for guidance?

I’m a bit of a free spirit as a writer, and while I definitely think that there are a lot of great tools and opportunities out there to gain knowledge about writing, I think the best advice I could give to an aspiring author would be, when an idea for a story strikes you – WRITE!  Don’t worry about the technicalities to start…  just get the meat of the story out there before you over think it or get lost in the “dos and don’ts” of writing.  There is always plenty of time to go back and edit, revise, tweak and chisel the plot, your characters and all those little things that bring the story to life.  Often times the hardest part about writing is getting started, so my advice is strike while the iron is hot. 

 When writing for children, what is the most important skill the writer needs to understand?

I don’t know that I would consider this a “skill” so to speak, but when writing for children, it is important to find a balance between creating a unique and engaging story while making sure the story doesn’t get too complicated or boring for the intended reader at the same time (which can be tough as a lot of children’s books try to appeal to wider age ranges, like 6-8 yrs of age for instance, but there are big differences between a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, so finding that balance is very important and can have a big impact on the appeal of a book).

If you could write for any children’s magazine, which would it be and why?

I have to admit, I am not very familiar with a lot of today’s children’s magazines, but to have the opportunity to write for Highlights magazine would be amazing.  I used to read Highlights when I was little and I love that it has remained a staple in children’s literature & learning over all these years.

What was the most difficult part of writing The Best Basketball Player Ever?  What was the easiest aspect?

The most difficult part of writing any story for children is to make the main character someone with whom kids can relate.  I wanted to give Tommy’s character a good mix between being a head-strong, know-it-all kid, but also have him be modest and open-minded enough to take criticism and learn from his mistakes.  The challenge became developing that transition in his character so that kids could empathize with him throughout the whole story.  The easiest aspect of writing BBPE was creating the opening page that shows Tommy’s vision of himself as a star player winning the game.  It’s always fun to embellish things and to be able to do it from the perspective of a kid who thinks they are the best, well, the sequence pretty much wrote itself. LOL.

What is next for you?

I do have some projects in development, but I can’t say for sure where things may go from here.  There seems to be a lot of excitement over this book, which is fantastic, and I’ve already been asked, “do you have one written for baseball players, too?”  So, who knows, I may have found a niche to continue exploring in the near future.  🙂

Is there anything else you would like to add or ask?

I truly want to thank you for the opportunity to share more about my book(s).  I had a lot of fun creating “The Best Basketball Player Ever” and am honored to be able to offer insight to readers as well as offer a little advice to others who are interested in writing for children! 

I would like to invite anyone interested in learning more to visit my webpage, and for any “fans” out there to “Like” me on Facebook ( and/or follow me on Twitter ( 

Thanks again for allowing me to spend some time with you discussing The Best Basketball Player EVER.  🙂

Thank you Jennifer for a most interesting interview.  Jennifer’s latest book, The Best Basket ball Player EVER, will be reviewed tomorrow and available after midnight tonight.  You can read it HERE!  If you are already interested in The Best Basketball Player EVER, you can pick it up at AmazonBarnes and Noble, or at Jennifer’s website.

2 thoughts on “Interview: Author Heather Payer-Smith

  1. Pingback: review – The Best Basketball Player EVER by Heather Payer-Smith, author | Kid Lit Reviews

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