{Guest Post} Playing Like a Girl by Janet Gurtler, author of HOW I LOST YOU

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Janet Gurtler is the critically acclaimed author of four contemporary young adult novels. Janet’s books have been selected as top YA Fiction titles for The Pennsylvania School Librarians Association and included in the Bank Street Books Top 100 Fiction of 2009. In 2012, I’M NOT HER was a double Rita Finalist with RWA. Janet lives in Calgary with her husband; son and a chubby Chihuahua named Bruce. She has an unhealthy addiction to social media and is afraid of driving on bridges. 

Visit Janet's blog and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

Playing Like a Girl
by Janet Gurtler

Truthfully, I’m kind of a klutz when it comes to traditional sports. My parents tried. They signed me up for baseball when I was a kid. I spent my whole time in the outfield praying the ball wouldn’t come to me. So they signed me up for soccer. I wasn’t a good runner. That was the end of my sports career.

Back when I was a teenager, there weren’t a lot of other choices. Not many girls played hockey. None played football. I think I could have been a competitive swimmer, but it wasn’t a well-known sport back then. Plus I had two brothers and they both played hockey and ball. And my dad coached hockey and ball. The sports thing in our house was pretty full.

But I watched my sister’s girls grow up playing competitive sports and saw how much it did for their self-esteem, and how it kept them busy, fit and (mostly) out of trouble. And I liked that. I like that sports teaches girls how to set goals. How to work for things and how to achieve them.

When I started writing HOW I LOST YOU, I knew that I wanted my two girls to be strong. Physically and mentally. I wanted to put them in a sport where they would have to stand up to boys and learn how to deal with being treated as “less than” because they were girls.  I wanted this side of them to balance the feminine and vulnerable parts of them and their fragile best friendship.

I happened to take my son to a birthday party at a Paintball Place. There was a really cute girl working there, and I, being me and snoopy, asked her all kinds of questions. She told me how she was in a league and how much she loved it. She had to deal with guys who thought she should be in a bikini, not battle fatigues. I loved it and the idea for the sport my girls in HOW I LOST YOU was born.

I spoke with that girl and hung out in the Paintball arena when games were being played to get the feel for the game, the sounds, the smells etc. And I went on-line and watched Paintball games and found girls who were on teams. The question always came up, “What’s it like being a girl on a Paintball team?”

I liked the unexpectedness of a girl in a high adrenaline sport like Paintball. I also wanted girls who took it seriously and weren’t afraid to play with the boys. To me it rounded out their characters and gave them an edge. I also really loved the idea of me being brave enough to play on a Paintball team. Of course, that is not something that happened.   But I did get to write about it. 

Janet, thank you so much for sharing this post!
When I began reading HOW I LOST YOU, I was struck by the paintball element from the very beginning!  Thank you for today's amazing post, and for being one of the authors who inspired me to create Girls in Sports Week to begin with!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Janet Gurtler
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who's always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.


  1. Thanks for featuring How I Lost You and paintball! It is a fascinating sport for girls to be involved in!!

  2. It's nice to learn about a new sport (for me) like Paintball. Your book, Janet, is available at Indigo/Chapters book stores ion Canada's biggest city, so I'll check it out. Best wishes.

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