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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Roll On: Rick Hansen Wheels Around the World" by Ainslie Manson

One of the best things about book blogging is the "backstage pass" it can create for tapping into an author's motivation. After reading Roll On: Rick Hansen Wheels Around the World, Daughter #2 and I were impressed. Instead of another sports hero story about the agonies of a champion athlete on an epic journey (though there's just the right dose of that in the mix), Roll On introduced us to what can happen when you're on the road to reaching your dream. And what is remembered afterwards, what matters, is not so much about the aches and pains, but the people met along the way. This made us think, and we came to the conclusion we had a few questions for author Ainslie Manson.

Why did you want to do a sequel to Boy in Motion?
This year is the 25th anniversary of Rick's around the world journey in his wheelchair.  To mark this occasion, Rick requested a second book, carrying on where my earlier book, Boy in
Motion left off, and telling the story of his gruelling, marathon journey.

Did you get to meet Rick Hansen? What is he like?
Yes, I've met with him several times. He is kind, charming and incredibly charismatic -- and it would have been almost impossible not to accept the challenge of writing this book for him!

Roll On is special because it's not so much about Rick, as it is about the people he met on his trip.  How did you decide to write the book this way?
It was a challenge to write this book because  Rick wanted it for the same age readers as Boy in Motion.  But by the time he set off on his marathon journey he was 27 years old!  Usually the protagonist in a children's book is a child. So I decided to tell the tale from the point of view of several children he meets along the way, and also from the point of view of Jack, the boy who sees him off in Vancouver and then greets him on his return home two years later. Each child is moved and perhaps even changed by Rick.  And in a few cases Rick is very moved (and helped) by the children. Each of the stories was originally way, way longer but we had to cut, cut, cut!  So though I know their whole stories no one else does!

What is your favourite picture in the book? Why?
I think perhaps my favorite illustration is Rick with Lin on The Great Wall of China.   This was from a photo taken on the Great Wall. I went through hundreds of Rick's pictures and sent many of my favorites like this one to Ron Lightburn, the illustrator.   Rick didn't actually know the name of the little girl chosen to toast him on The Great Wall of China.  I gave her a name and a story!  Rick had written about a few of the children but there was no picture, and in a few others I built a story around one of Rick's photos.  I had fun naming my children, too. The British children are named after my nieces, Holly and Hannah.  And the New Zealanders are named after my two grandsons!

Thank you, Ainslie!

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