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Motorcycle book author gears up for the biggest race event of the year!

May 16th, 2014 by Kendra Martin

Held on the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, the International Isle of Man (Tourist Trophy) Race is one of the most prestigious motorcycle races in the world--and statistically, the most dangerous race in the world. Nicole Winters' TT: Full Throttle tells the story of one teen's obsession to fulfilll his late father's dream of competing in this race. (Watch the book trailer here!) 

Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - Nicole Winters- motorcycle

In this blog entry, Nicole talks bikes ("turtle chasers"), writing, and racing.  


How did you get started in children’s books?

I started as a screenwriter, writing and co-writing several scripts for film and TV. One of the stories, a kids’ film called SeaDogs, received several rounds of development funding, and the plan was to shoot it on a tiny island in the Irish Sea called The Isle of Man. When the project fell through, I grew tired of the industry--people would constantly want to remove this or that from the script because there wasn’t a budget for it. ("Remove the helicopter!" "But how else do they get rescued from the mountain?" "We don’t care!") All the fun and joy of writing seemed to be slowly crushed by the ol’ mighty dollar. That’s when I turned to writing kids’ books. Writing prose gave me back my freedom and I could let my imagination run wild--epic stories, large sets, big explosions!--without worrying about someone’s budget.

What (or who) inspired you to write TT: Full Throttle?

I first learned about the most challenging motorcycle road race in the world when I was reading about the Isle of Man for the SeaDogs project. I’d never heard of anything like the TT in North America. I was immediate hooked and drawn to the man versus himself aspect of the race, which is atypical of most Lorimer - Childrens - Blog - TT Full Throttle coversports stories where it’s typically Team A versus Team B or good guy must overcome bad guy who also wants to place first. Most people aren’t going around battling a mortal enemy (at least I hope not), but we all struggle with internal conflict. I liked the idea of writing about a hero who wants to qualify for the TT Races so badly that he starts getting in his own way.

Tell us about the race.

The TT Races were started in 1907. They are extremely dangerous, because riders are going full out on narrow streets and roads flanked by stone walls, buildings, and "street furniture" (telephone polls, grates, curbs, benches, etc). What makes the TT Races different than your typical track race is that the course isn’t 2-3 miles with 8-12 bends, it’s a whopping 37 3/4 miles with over 200 bends. You don’t just show up in the morning, ride a few laps, qualify, run the race in the afternoon and then go home--they give you a week to try and qualify. It’s considered a big accomplishment just to make it to race week. Even if you come in last, there are no losers! Riders and race organizers tell me it takes three years of participating in the TT before you can even consider a podium finish.

Do you ride motorcycles yourself?

After I return from this year’s TT Races, where I’ll be researching a sequel to TT: Full Throttle called Thunder Road, I plan on taking my motorcycle road test. I have no definite plans on what kind of motorcycle I’d like just yet (the Vincent Black Shadow would be a dream bike). I think I’ll start out with a simple turtle chaser, then work my way up from there. 

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s YA authors?

Have fun with it. I might have continued with writing scripts if people weren’t always trying to mess with the story all the time. I have no regrets about the past. In fact, what I learned from my time in film translated nicely to writing for teens--tight, fast-paced scenes, strong dialogue, lot of visuals. I guess my other piece of advice for a budding writer is to watch his or her favourite film with the closed captioning on and to study the dialogue. Notice how not a word (or a scene) is wasted. Then pick the film apart to figure out why it’s a favourite. Do the same with a hated film, only this time try to figure out how to fix it. Quite often I learn more about story writing from a terrible book or film, than a good one.

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