When and where did you come up with the idea for The Little Rippers?
I was skiing with my father at Sugarbush in Vermont. We looked around the slopes and realized that we were surrounded by skiing kids. They were giggly, energetic, super colorful, and of course, fast. As someone who grew up skiing, I had never read a book about skiing kids. At that moment, at Sugarbush, I knew I had to write it.
You haven’t always been an author of children’s books. What was it like publishing your first one?
My first published children’s book was actually Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit which was published in December of 2012. I was asked to write the book by the publishing company, In This Together Media. However, The Little Rippers was my first self-published book. I consider The Little Rippers my baby, considering I have had full editorial, marketing, and of course, content control. When I received the first box of books in the mail, I literally jumped up and down. It is really difficult to write, edit, and market a book on your own, but since I truly believe in The Little Rippers storyline, it has been FUN to promote.
What important lessons about skiing are you trying to convey to kids through your book?
The Little Rippers is all about spreading the joy of skiing to kids of all abilities. The Little Rippers characters come from different mountains and different backgrounds (One of them is actually a water skier from Florida who only skis in Vermont once a year). Yet, they each make the most of their talents together on the slopes. As I was writing the book, I wanted kids to identify with The Little Rippers regardless of their own skiing experience. The book is perfect for kids of all skiing levels, from beginners on the bunny slope to U.S. Ski Team hopefuls.
What are some of the problems you think the ski industry is facing today?
Skiing is a very expensive sport. I’ve been thrilled to see local mountains and ski programs develop initiatives to make skiing affordable for all. Many mountains now provide free ski programs for students of particular ages. I think this is crucial so that ALL kids can enjoy some fresh air on the slopes.
Growing up, we had a rule that we were allowed to buy hot chocolate at the lodge, but we had to eat the packed lunch that my mother made. No expensive ski lodge hamburgers for us. It was peanut butter and jelly or nothing! Those little changes helped us save dollars for lift tickets. And we’re huge supporters of the half-day lift ticket!
What changes would you like to see in the industry over the next 5-10 years?
Helmets for all! I’m a big fan of the helmet… not only for safety, but also for warmth! All of my characters in The Little Rippers wear helmets. It was important to me to make helmets cool.
What can the rest of us do to get more families–and therefore more kids!–out on the slopes?
Educate the public about local promotions to encourage affordability. And, don’t feel like you need to travel far to enjoy skiing as a family. Even though I’m an advanced skier, I enjoy teaching family members to ski on the bunny hill of local ski area more than I enjoy skiing alone at a Mega Mountain.
Where can readers buy The Little Rippers?
The Little Rippers is available to everyone on Amazon.com. It is also available at a few select retailers (the Dartmouth Bookstore, for example) in New England.
What does distribution for the book look like at this point, and what else are you doing to promote it?
We’ve had a very good inaugural year. Much of the success came from word-of-mouth references from one skier to another. I was particularly thrilled when the U.S. Ski Team tweeted out about the book! We’re also thankful to industry leaders like Liftopia for chatting with us! This winter, I will be on a ski lodge book tour as well, signing books in places like Okemo Mountain.
Should we keep an eye out for another installment of The Little Rippers?
Absolutely. Volume Two will hit the presses in September 2014. I’ll start writing that book as soon as all of the snow melts in Vermont.