Q&A with Pepper Persley: Not Too Anything

Q&A with Pepper Persley: Not Too Anything

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Author Bio:

"Pepper Persley is a 12-year-old reporter based in New York and the host of the Dish with Pepper Podcast. Since she started her career as a journalist, she has reported for ESPN’s MLB’s Little League Classic KidsCast and Toy Story Funday Football, and has interviewed top women athletes such as A’ja Wilson, Sylvia Fowles, Chari Hawkins, Renee Montgomery, Sabrina Ionescu, and Caitlin Clark to name a few. Her work has been featured on CBS Morning, The Jennifer Hudson Show, Black Enterprise, and Sports Illustrated."

1 - Could you please start by explaining the title? What does "Not Too Anything" mean to you, and what inspired you to choose this name for your book?

The main story of the book focuses on when I was bullied in second grade. I named my book Not Too Anything to counter many of the mean things I was called when I was bullied like that I was too passionate or too bossy or too athletic. It means a lot to have the title of my book be the positive side of something negative that I’ve overcome. 

2 - What personality traits make Pepper a great interviewer in the book? Do you share the same character traits?

Pepper in the book is exactly like Pepper in real life, and the traits that I think make me a good interviewer are my genuine curiosity, my work ethic, and my passion.

3 - In your interviews, what do you typically aim to uncover or capture in a story?

During my interviews, I try to display and highlight my guests in a way that shares their strengths and interests on and off the court or field.


4 - What is the most significant lesson you've learned as a journalist thus far?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a journalist is to be confident in my curiosity. I often worry that my ideas for questions aren’t good enough or that I shouldn’t be in spaces as a child, so I just try to remember that I belong and that my questions are worthy of being asked. 

5 - As a journalist, how do you navigate and balance the fine line between objectivity and personal connection with the individuals you interview?

It can be challenging, since I’ve gotten to know players over the years. I try to spend time connecting with a player before and after interviews, which helps create a connection which helps a player be comfortable during the interview. I keep a sense of professionalism by not asking for too much. In addition, I make sure not to play favorites. For example, I don’t mention having a favorite player in the WNBA. I support all 144 players in that league.

6 - Discovering your passion at a young age is remarkable. What initially sparked your interest in journalism?

From a young age, I had a lot of questions about sports, especially because my parents took me to a lot of NBA and WNBA games. So I give my parents a lot of credit for sparking my curiosity in sports by taking me to watch and helping me find ways to have some of my questions answered.

7 - As a journalist, do you find asking compelling questions or crafting the story more challenging?

I don’t do a whole lot of writing stories, so I think of the questions I ask in interviews as how I’m able to frame a story.

8 - In "Not Too Anything," are there any specific themes or messages that you hope readers will take away from the stories and interviews?

The main themes of 'Not Too Anything' are to stand up to bullying whether you’re a kid or an adult, to be yourself no matter what others think about you, and to have a strong support system. 

9 - Can you share insights into your writing process for this book?

During my process of writing Not Too Anything, I wrote several drafts, and thought of the book in three sections: 1) my bullying story, 2) how I overcame being bullied and becoming a sports reporter, and 3) my advice. 

10 - What is the best book you've read in the past year?

The best book I’ve read in the past year is One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. I love murder mysteries, and I highly recommend this one. 

11 - Are there plans for more books in your future?

Not as of now, but maybe if the right idea comes along! 

Places to Find More From This Author:

Instagram: @pepperpersley

Twitter: @teampersley

Tiktok: @pepperpersley


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