The Backstory of Pickleball Paul

You never know what twists and turns are in store for you in your life but if you keep an open mind opportunities will often fall into your lap. My wife Lilly and I had just finished playing pickleball at our resort in Surprise Arizona when we first met Paul Olsen in the hot tub. After introductions we found out that Paul was a rep for the Selkirk Paddle manufacturer and a former tennis instructor. Paul asked what I did and I told him that I had been illustrating children’s books for the past few decades along with teaching illustration. 

He said, “Well, what we really need are ways to get kids interested in pickleball at an earlier age…right now it’s looked at as the sport the adults play”. It was at that moment that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of making a children’s book series with pickleball as the backdrop for stories. I have always taught my students at, and on my youtube channel that to be successful as an illustrator they need to develop products around their interests and expertise. 

I decided right there in that hot tub that I would write and illustrate a children’s book series that would capture the essence of the way my wife and I felt when we first went down to the pickleball courts and were intimidated by the people who already knew how to play. I chose a fox to be the main character, Paul, because I love foxes and their red hair stands out. I chose the name Paul because of Paul Olsen and how much help he’s been at getting the word out about this book…and of course, the rhyme with the word “pickleball”. 

Most of my books have been published by Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, or Scholastic, but I knew this one had to be published on my own because it’s such a narrow niche market. I needed to find someone who could handle sales at tournaments and that’s when I thought of Bill Knopp. He’s one of those guys who knows everyone in the pickleball world and has a long sales resume. Together we hope to share the adventures of Pickleball Paul with as many players as possible. Each book in this series will incidentally share a strong social moral (i.e. courage, making amends, good sportsmanship, charity, and mentoring) that our children desperately need in this day and age!

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