• The Book Goat

Carrie Allen: Michigan vs the Boys


It's October! Fall weather! Pumpkin stuff! Foofy sweaters! NEW BOOKS!

Michigan vs the Boys

by Carrie Allen

Michigan Manning lives for hockey, and this is her year to shine. That is, until she gets some crushing news: budget cuts will keep the girls' hockey team off the ice this year.

If she wants colleges to notice her, Michigan has to find a way to play. Luckily, there's still one team left in town ...

The boys' team isn't exactly welcoming, but Michigan's prepared to prove herself. She plays some of the best hockey of her life, in fact, all while putting up with changing in the broom closet, constant trash talk and "harmless" pranks that always seem to target her.

But once hazing crosses the line into assault, Michigan must weigh the consequences of speaking up - even if it means putting her future on the line.


October 1st, 2019

Introduce yourself and your debut novel!

I’m Carrie S. Allen: Colorado girl, mom, dog-mom and retired from sports medicine. My debut YA is MICHIGAN VS. THE BOYS, out October 1 from Kids Can Press Loft. It is girl power + ice hockey!

What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?

How slow 19 months can go from the time you sign a book deal until it releases!

Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!

BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN, by my agency sib Niki Lenz, is one of the funniest, sweetest books I’ve read-- and my kids are still not over the word butt in the title.

Who is your favorite character?

Michigan, of course! My favorite literary heroes are all fierce women. My sports heroes are all fierce women. So I write fierce women! It was empowering to step into Michigan’s skates and take her through the process of channeling her strength and redefining it.


What’s a cool thing about your book that isn’t in the blurb?

The story takes place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The location is inspired by one of my best friends, who grew up in Houghton. Yes, my MC is named after her home state! And her little brother, Trenton, is named after the Michigan town my husband was born in.


What inspired you to write this book?

MICHIGAN is the second hockey manuscript I wrote. The first was about a girl, who has played on a boys’ team all her life, adjusting to an elite USA Hockey girls’ development program. This is a common scenario in hockey—girls frequently grow up playing on “co-ed” teams (read: the lone girl on a boys’ team) and only transition to “girls’ hockey” if they make it to elite levels. But as soon as I finished that manuscript, I knew I had to write the opposite scenario: girl adjusting to life on a boys’ team. It was so important for me to give voice and support to the many real-life girls who are in Michigan’s situation, and it’s a completely different story from this side.


What was the hardest scene to write?

Without giving up spoilers, there are two scenes where I had to Really Go There. Knowing there are real-life girls experiencing the same abuse that Michigan receives inspired me to channel my anger and power through. And despite her struggles, my girl continued to rise. Just like those real-life girls do every day.

What advice would you give to a new writer?

Write your heart and be genuine with your writing. There are a lot of messages in MICHIGAN. These are things I feel deeply: how we value (or don’t!) women in sports, the privilege that boys and men are given in these spaces. I didn’t aim to write a book to showcase these ideas; I wrote the book of my heart and they naturally shone through. I take so much pride in the good that I believe MICHIGAN will do in the world.


Describe your writing space.

Filled with Post-its, colored-coded whiteboards and snoozing dogs. Hot tea on a coaster. A row of notebooks (one for each wip.) Corkboards with notes held by vintage ski pins (vintage, ha! From my childhood!) A magnet board of inspirational quotes on my desk. One of my faves is a graphic posted by Hilary Knight that reads: “Underestimate me. That’ll be fun.” Perfect fit for Michigan!


What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I’m so lucky—sports books are (mostly) awesome to research! I watch a lot of videos and go to events when I can. On the sidelines of the slopestyle course at Dew Tour watching Spencer O’Brien slay it? Um, hello, I’M WORKING. The flip side is that I have slogged through a lot of rulebooks. The US Figure Skating Association rulebook is 520 pages and, while necessary, not all 520 are exactly riveting. But after more than twenty years of playing hockey, refereeing, coaching, watching the game, working sports medicine, and driving the Zamboni, MICHIGAN didn’t require much research. I basically sat down and pantsed the whole thing, then did some minor fact-checking later.


What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

Major shout-out to Sabrina Lotfi, my writing bestie and Pitch Wars co-mentor, who dissects all of my manuscripts and never forgets to balance out the “you might wanna…” comments with happy face emojis. She’s gotten me better about thinking deeper into my character motivations and reactions and backstories.


If you could only buy one book this year, which book would it be?

This is only a hypothetical, right? Because I think my heart just stopped. My one buy of 2019 would be Kim Harrington’s middle grade REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB, releasing in October. With three girls in this house, I’m going to get some mileage from my one buy!


What are two of your favorite covers of all time?

Candice Montgomery’s HOME AND AWAY. Unapologetically fierce black athlete girl on the cover! With the football field reflected in her sunglasses-- major swoon. I’m also into skies and stars—I love Ria Voros’s THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE and Alisha Sevigny’s SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS, so I was excited to share a brilliant cover designer with them. (Much love to Emma Dolan!)


Share your favorite good girl!


Of course, I have the obligatory pet-with-book photo (OK, fine, it’s more than one photo, it’s a full album.) This is Ivy looking for her name in the acknowledgements (she’s there!)

Thanks for interviewing, Carrie! I can't wait to read about Michigan on 10/1/19!

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