Jaz Santos vs. The World has taken the Middle grade fiction world by storm with rave reviews and praise. Priscilla Mante was kind enough to answer a few questions for us recently!
Jaz Santos is the first in the Dream Team series- what can we hope to see from the rest of the series?
The Dream Team are a group of diverse characters, who are firmly united by friendship and football, but they all have their own distinct dreams and passions. Each book in the series will take each character closer to their dreams, but they’ll learn something even more important on their journey. The next title in the series, which centres on Jaz’s best friend Charligh, is about the celebration of difference, and embracing your true self even when you don’t fit in.
Hailed as inspirational- what else do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?
The human imagination is a powerful thing, we can use it conjure up situations that make us anxious or fearful, and we can also use it to think of a better reality. I hope that everyone who reads it, will be inspired to have the courage to use their imagination to dream their biggest dreams – even if the odds seemed stacked against them.
Football is so topical and relevant at the moment. Why it is important for girls to play as well as boys?
I think it’s important to remember how well the women’s game was doing back in 1921 when the FA began their 50 year ban on women’s football. It really suffered from those decades of deliberate exclusion, and marginalisation. Even though it still battles with under-investment and a lack of media representation and coverage, I’m glad we’ve seen progress since the ban was lifted and one of the fastest growing sports for girls in Britain today . There are so many admirable qualities to be learned from football such as discipline, teamwork and healthy competition. It’s great for both girls and boys to be involved in a fun sport that can foster those qualities.
How does it feel to be a debut novelist?
It still feels slightly surreal to be honest! I’m not sure when it will fully sink in, but it’s been such a delight to see people talking about these characters and scenes that have lived inside my head for so long. Recently, I was tagged in an Australian bookshop where copies of Jaz Santos had just arrived. It’s always incredible to see my book in places which I’ve not yet travelled to. Equally, it’s been so heartwarming knowing my debut is in places like my hometown library, where I found most of my books as a child.
What has been the best part of your journey to publication?
I think it’s been the things I’ve learned about myself on this journey, the genuine support I’ve had from a wide range of people, and ultimately seeing my childhood dream turn into a reality that I can hold in my hand!
Where do you find the time to write?
During the week it’s usually early mornings. I often wake up hours before I start work, plus I’m more of a morning person anyway so it’s a good time to write. I do most of my writing over the weekends.
Do you have a special writing routine or workspace?
I don’t really have a routine, and I tend to write wherever I can, whether it’s my bed or my small desk which I put up in my living room. For me, it’s more important that wherever I work is quiet and uncluttered because I can be easily distracted.
Jaz Santos vs. The World is published by Puffin Books and is available now from book retailers.