About The Whole of My World…

1) What is the one-sentence synopsis of The Whole of My World?

Unable to connect with her grieving dad following her mother’s death, a troubled teen befriends a professional footballer dealing with the looming end of his career.

2) Where did the idea for The Whole of My World come from?

A moment in my own life. A few moments actually. Much like Shelley, and to the endless annoyance of my teammate and twin brother, I ‘played’ for the local footy club all through primary school. Because of how girls were viewed back then, I wan’t allowed to actually play a real game. So I had to content myself with training with the team twice a week, and calling out from the boundary line every Sunday, hoping I might one day get a game.

At one point, when I was 11 or 12, six years after I’d attached myself to the team, the coach approached the junior football administrators to request permission for me to officially play. That’s what I was told anyway — I’ve never been quite sure what happened and I was never given the chance to plead my case.

The tribunal rejected the appeal on the grounds that footy wasn’t ‘safe’ for girls to play. I remember my coach being really disappointed, then laughingly suggesting I cut my hair and pretend to be a boy. I’m not entirely sure he was joking.

To be told I couldn’t play a real game – ever – not because I wasn’t good enough but because I was a girl… That really stayed with me. It didn’t occur to me to fight it. I just accepted it, deciding that the problem was me. My body. If I could just be a boy, I decided, I’d be allowed to play. It never occurred to me that the system had betrayed me. That they were wrong, and not me.

3) What genre does The Whole of My World fall under?

It’s Young Adult, and it’s aimed primarily at teenage girls, although there’s enough footy in there to attract boys too. (Fingers crossed.) Oh – and teachers, mums and dads should definitely read this, not just for the fun 1980s references – spot the mullet, people! – but also because the hero/fan dynamic is so prevalent in today’s celebrity-obsessed society. And hopefully, The Whole of My World can provide, if not a window into what goes on in a teenager’s mind when caught up in obsession, then at least a jumping off point for discussion.

4) What actors would you choose to play Shelley and her friends in a movie rendition?

Oooh. That’s a hard one. I love Ashleigh Cummings from Puberty Blues, but it’s possible she’d be too old to play Shelley should this ever become a film. (Sorry Ashleigh!) Alternatively, I’d love to see a young unknown step into Shelley’s shoes. Any volunteers? As for Josh, Xavier Samuel would be great, age permitting. I can totally see Callan Mulvey as Mick Edwards.

6) Who’s publishing this stunning story?

The Whole of My World is published by the fabulous people at Penguin Random House. They have published all three of my YA novels.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

The first, first draft? Let’s just say three months. (Give or take twelve years.)

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

How do you answer that question without sounding presumptuous and wanky? Very well… Several of my early readers mentioned Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones. I’m a big admirer of A.S. King, too, although it’s hard to draw parallels between your own work and that of authors you love. Another reference point might be Paul D. Carter’s Eleven Seasons, which I read soon after I’d signed my first contract. Lots of parallels there, but drawn from the other side of the story.

I guess, ultimately, what I think doesn’t matter. What do YOU think? I’d love to hear from you once you’ve read my book.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My daughters and my dad. My daughters because I want them to grow up strong and smart and brave enough to say no sometimes, like Shelley realises she must do. And my dad because he loved sport and words, and he had an amazing ability to turn the rough and tumble of Australian football into something both poignant and poetic drawing on his dry wit and a well-chosen sentence or two.

The second incident was the birth of my daughters. Suddenly my early footy injustice mattered a whole lot more. What if someone tried something like this on them? Maybe not football, or even a sport. But other things? Being prevented from participating, and even maybe excelling, in anything because you’re the wrong gender? (Or race? Or religion?) No brainer. I had to get this story down.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s set in the 1980s, which should be great fun for anyone who lived through them, and even those who wished they did but don’t realise it. (I’m looking at you, puffy-shoulder-padded Gen Yers.) Shelley is funny and smart, and an all-round cool chick to hang with. Hunky full forward Mick Edwards, yummy boy-next-door, Josh McGuire, and tortured but loyal Tara Lester think so. I bet you do too.

Plus, all those cute boys.

About Nicole Hayes

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