Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Reader Q&A with Eve Ainsworth author of Kicking Off


Kicking Off is a brilliant new book for readers 9+, based on the remarkable true story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies football team.

Set during the First World War, it tells the story of shy Hettie, a teenager starting a new job in a factory to help the war effort. Little does she know that the Dick, Kerr munitions factory also has a ladies football team who are about to change her life, and make sporting history.

This inspirational footballing story is written by award-winning author Eve Ainsworth, supported by the official Dick, Kerr Ladies' archivist.

Toppsta reader Alice aged 10 had the opportunity to ask Eve 10 questions about her inspiration for the book. Read on to find out more!

Reader Q&A with Eve Ainsworth author of Kicking Off

1. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

All I've ever wanted to be is an author. When I was really little (3 or 4) I used to walk around my back garden, telling my stories out loud because I wasn't able to write them down. My head has always been full of characters and story ideas and I actually sent my first book idea to a publisher aged 7 or 8 (sadly it was rejected!)

I think if I couldn't be a writer, I would have liked to have been a Detective and investigated grisly crimes!

2. What made you interested in the Dick Kerr Girls?

I'd heard about the Dick Kerr Girls years ago on a news report and was immediately drawn in. As a girl who loves football how could I not be? These women had come together during a time of true oppression and judgement and they showed the world that women could be just as good as men in a sport that they had always been excluded from. It's a wonderful true story of women fighting for equality and also a brilliant example of how sport can bring people together and have such a positive impact.

3. How long did it take you to write Kicking Off?

I think the first draft took about 5 months and then it was sent in for edits, which took a few more months to make the story even better and stronger.

4. Have you visited any of the places you mention in the story?

Sadly, not yet. I was due to visit Preston whilst writing the book last year but fell ill. Then planned to go up again and the dreaded lockdown happened! But I will be visiting as soon as I can. Luckily, my publishers, friends who live in the area and Gail Newsham (a local historian and expert on all things related to the Dick Kerr Girls) were on hand to make sure I got all the details right.

5. What/who inspired the character of Hettie?

I think my Nan, Pat, inspired the character of Hettie. She died twenty-two years ago but I miss her a great deal still. Although my Nan wasn't a young woman in the first world war, she was in the second world war and worked in a laundry where she was a little bit naughty and used to get told off for dancing the Charleston when she should have been working. I borrowed some of my Nan's spirit and energy and lovely, kind nature to create Hettie.

6. Did you make any last minute changes to the book before it was published?

That's a very good question. I don't think there were any major last minute changes, but I did 'jiggle' the book around a bit so that the ending had more impact.

7. Did you write this book because of the football, the history or the character of Hettie?

Another fab question, you're very good at this!

Ok, at first it was a combination of the football and the history. I really believe that that the Dick Kerr Girls have such an important part of sporting history and I feel so privileged to be writing a fictionalised account of their lives. I'm hoping that more younger readers will read the story, discover these women and feel inspired by their journey

8. How important was it to write a book about ‘girl power’?

Extremely important. I love to celebrate women and women's achievements, especially during difficult times. I hope they will help to inspire new generations.

9. Where do you write your books?

My bedroom is downstairs and faces the garden - I have a little desk in the corner that faces out to this view. It can be distracting, and when I'm not writing I'm often watching the birds or my daft dog trying to chase the squirrels up the tree!

10. Roald Dahl wrote with a special notepaper and pencil.  Do you have a special writing routine?

I have to buy a different notebook with every story I start. I have to write at least 1,000 words a day and I can't start a story until I have a title.

Also, I reward myself with biscuits, which is probably why my laptop is littered with crumbs - opps!

Reader Q&A with Eve Ainsworth author of Kicking Off
Book pages Placeholder Book

Kicking Off: Dick, Kerr Girls

The remarkable story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies is brought to young readers for the very first time by award winning and CILIP Carnegie nominated Eve Ainsworth. It's 1917, and Britain is at war. Shy teenager Hettie wants to help the war effort, and signs up to work in the local Dick, Kerr & Co. munitions factory. She's nervous, but she has no idea quite how much her life is about to change ... For, inside this factory are young women who are about to make sporting history. Can Hettie find the courage to join them, and in doing so, find her own place in the world? Based on the thrilling true story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies team - football's forgotten legends.


31st August 2020

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