Daredevils Don’t Give Up


A black-and-white photo of author reveals her upper-arm tattoo of a fox holding a pen.

Kit Watters Rosewater ’11

The Derby Daredevils: Kenzie Kickstarts a Team
Amulet Books, an imprint of Abrams
176 pages, $14.99

The first title in the Derby Daredevils series debuted this spring and won praise from the American Library Association for its “fierce” female characters. The second in the series, Shelly Struggles to Shine, came out in September. We caught up with the author by phone at her home in Albuquerque.

Why roller derby?

I had wanted to do a chapter-book series that was kind of progressive, maybe had some queer themes. At the same time, I was starting to get really into the roller-derby scene. My husband and I had just moved to Austin, Texas, and that’s where roller derby was reborn as the sport that it is now. The wonderful thing about derby is that you do see a really diverse array of ages, of body types, of cultural backgrounds. I mean, anything, really, and especially in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. I really wanted an inclusive cast.

How did you find a publisher?

The first draft came quickly. My agent loved it, which I was shocked by, because usually she really puts me through the wringer—which I’m glad she does. We were in submission in a couple of months, and then within weeks we had interest. We ultimately went to auction [when publishers competitively bid for a particular manuscript]. Abrams pushed for it to be a younger, middle-grade series rather than chapter books. And they wanted illustration, which we thought was really great for having a lot of visual representation on the page.

Did being a teacher help with writing for this age?

I taught sixth-grade theater and eighth-grade English, and they both were very special in their own right, but the sixth-graders really just cracked me up. I enjoyed their company so much. I thought they were hilarious and innovative and adventurous. They influenced my voice.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

I went to a talk by Cheryl Klein, an editor at Scholastic. She said, the thing about publishing is, you only need two things to make it. You need to not quit, and you need to learn each step of the way. I’ve held onto her words through some really low points. I hope that anyone who is interested in getting published holds on to that kind of advice, too. We hear enough how hard it is to break into publishing, but I’m just not sure what it accomplishes to discourage anyone. So I always say, if you keep learning and you don’t give up, that’s the winning combination.

Catherine ONeill Grace, a senior associate editor for this magazine, has written nonfiction books for middle-school readers.

You Might Like
  • The cover of Malinda Lo's novel. A Line in the Dark, shows a photograph of a hand with dark ink dripping off the fingers.
    Malinda Lo ’96 highlights queer women, particularly queer women of color, in her work for young adult readers. Kirkus Reviews named A Line in the Dark, her sixth novel. one of the best teen mysteries and thrillers of 2017.More
  • Screen to Teen
    If you’ve looked at the weekly bestseller list recently, chances are you’ve seen a young adult (or YA) novel at or near the top. The novels, which combine fast-moving plots, love triangles, and strong teenage protagonists, are popular with both teenage and adult readers.More
  • Black Girlhood Takes Flight
    Though this anthology’s 16 stories feature unreal beings, technologies, and powers, they’re grounded in the real historical and contemporary strength of Black people, resulting in Black girl magic that is wholly believable even as it is otherworldly.More

Post a CommentView Full Policy

We ask that those who engage in Wellesley magazine's online community act with honesty, integrity, and respect. (Remember the honor code, alums?) We reserve the right to remove comments by impersonators or comments that are not civil and relevant to the subject at hand. By posting here, you are permitting Wellesley magazine to edit and republish your comment in all media. Please remember that all posts are public.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.