5,4,3,2,1 Interview Sandra Neil Wallace

I got a chance to meet Ms. Wallace at NCTE last year in Vegas. I found her ESPN past fascinating, and I was super excited when I got a chance to read her novel Muckers earlier this fall. I loved Muckers. It is a great young adult novel that will reach so many readers. I hope you check it out.

I’m honored to be able to interview Ms. Wallace on my blog today.


Here are the rules:

1. I give the interviewee 5 questions

2. They have to answer

  • 1 question with 5 sentences

  • 1 question with 4 sentences

  • 1 question with 3 sentences

  • 1 question with 2 sentences

  • 1 question with 1 sentence

3. They get to pick which question which question to answer with each number of sentences

4. Have fun!


1.  Can you tell us a little bit about Muckers?

Muckers is a story about perseverance and the courage to stand up for what and who you believe in, especially amidst prejudice. It’s inspired by a true story I discovered in a box of letters about a 1950 northern Arizona high school football team in a decaying mining town. Despite being the smallest squad in the state and facing ridicule because they were integrated (Mexican-Americans were forced to attend different schools in some Arizona towns), they made a run for the state championship. I modeled the football season in Muckers after that team and created characters I’d imagined experienced the hardships of that time period. Since I was able to interview those heroic surviving players, it’s a pretty accurate glimpse of what post World War 2 America was facing, from the Korean War to the Communist scare, and how football helped break down those barriers.

2. What is your favorite thing about being a writer Mucker?

(In the spirit of my favorite picture book author Jon Scieszka, I changed the question.)While working at ESPN, it became clear to me that sports can alter attitudes more profoundly than politics; athletes work their way into our hearts for many different reasons, but while there, we can begin to see the world differently. In writing about Babe Didrikson Zaharias, I saw how being the first athletic woman many kids had ever seen back in the 1930s and 40s, gave them permission to be athletic, and to be strong and independent. It’s no coincidence that civil rights issues can be accelerated by athletes.

3. What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

Starting a new project and seeing nothing but blank pages. When I finish a book, I always wonder if I have any more creativity left for another. But after some rest I rediscover that creativity is endless; it’s our energy that needs to be refreshed.

4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any crook(book) which crook(book) would you pick?

Muhammad Ali, who incidentally, was considered a criminal for refusing to be drafted and fight in the Vietnam War. Standing by his beliefs, the boxing legend was sentenced to prison and stripped of his boxing license.

5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?

Write down your great ideas when they happen, otherwise, you may not remember them in the same spectacular way.

sandra wallace


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