Q&A with Fred Bowen
March 5, 2013
Fred Bowen writes the weekly KidsPost sports column in The Washington Post and is the author of 17 books of sports fiction (ages 8+) and a picture book biography of Red Sox legend Ted Williams titled “No Easy Way.” Fred is not your usual sports-fiction writer; he always weaves a little real sports history into his fast-moving plots, and includes a history chapter at the back. He likes showing kids that the games they play are part of a large rich tradition.
What are the best books you’ve read recently?
I keep a list of the books that I read (I read about 35 books a year). I put a star (*) next to the books I would recommend to others. I have been reading young adult (YA) novels recently. Three YA novels I starred are “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, “Red Kayak” by Priscilla Cummings, and “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Walter Dean Myers also will be appearing at the 2013 Gaithersburg Book Festival.]
I also read adult books. Some recent starred books are “Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett, “Over Time” by Frank Deford, “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz, and “In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson.
What was your favorite book as a child?
My favorite books as a child were the Chip Hilton sports books. The books were written in the 1940s and 50s by Clair Bee, who was a famous college basketball coach. I still own 17 of the 23 books in the series. The books seem very old-fashioned and dated now, but I loved them when I was 8-12 years old.
Why do you enjoy attending book festivals, either as a presenter or audience member?
Being at a book festival, such as the Gaithersburg Book Festival (GBF), is like going to the National Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). At the HOF, you are surrounded by people who love baseball. At the GBF, you are surrounded by people who love books and ideas. It is always fun to be with people who share a common passion, whether it is baseball or books.
Have you been to the D.C. area before? If so, what is your favorite thing about it?
I have lived in the Washington area since 1975 when I came from Massachusetts to attend GW Law School (I was a lawyer for 30 years). Some of the things I have always loved about the Washington area are: 1) the abundance of interesting and intelligent people; 2) the museums and other cultural opportunities; 3) the physical beauty of the city, including the national monuments; 4) the springs and falls; and 5) now, after many years without a professional baseball team, the Nationals!
What is the most difficult, or challenging, aspect of being a writer?
I think the most challenging aspect about being a children’s author is competing with video games for your readers’ attention. Too many adults, without thinking, buy their children the latest (and often violent) video games instead of taking the time to explore the world of kids’ books. I wish more parents would take the time to read with their children, even after the children become independent readers. I think parents would find a wealth of great books for kids that they could share and discuss. Everyone would benefit if kids did more reading and less screen time.