Victoria Jamieson wrote 2015’s graphic novel Roller Girl, winner of the Newbury Award and a New York Times bestseller. Jamieson (aka, Winnie the Pow) also skates with the Wreckers, the recreational league under the Rose City Rollers umbrella. Meryl Williams (Rose City Rollers Social Media Co-Director) sat down to talk with Pow about Roller Girl, why roller derby is awesome, and what her new book is about.
MW: When did you start your roller derby career and where?
VJ: It was 2008 and I was living in New York. I read Derby Girl, the book Whip It! I based on, and I think I took lessons first. Not street skating, but like, dance skating. I tried out for Gotham Fresh Meat and, surprise! I didn’t make it. But then I moved to Portland and started skating with the Wreckers.
MW: What are some of the things you love most about the sport?
VJ: I think one of the biggest things is the community. When I moved here I didn’t know anybody. Then I joined Wreckers and had many instant friends. There were so many bad ass women in one space. One of my favorite experiences was seeing a group of women loading a sofa into a truck by the hangar. Some guy was like, that sofa is never gonna fit. And we just stared him down and said, “It’ll fit.” It was women getting it done!
MW: Why was it important to you to tell the story of Roller Girl, which takes place right here in Portland?
VJ: I love roller derby and I tend to write stories about things I really love. After I’d been playing and coaching Wreckers so long I saw more parallels between derby and life. That includes the things I went through in middle school [the age at which the main character of Roller Girl is situated]. I draw upon strength from roller derby.
MW: What advice would you have for a new skater?
VJ: It’s easy to get discouraged because everyone else looks really awesome. But everyone stared somewhere. Don’t give up! It’s hard, but don’t compare yourself too much to other people. It’s not easy advice to follow! I can’t come to Wreckers as often as I want to but I love showing up to practice.
MW: You just had a new book come out! Can you tell me a little about it?
VJ: It’s graphic novel for young readers called The Great Pet Escape. It’s about pets who break out of their cages after school. My mom was an elementary school teacher and I remember thinking it was fun to have free reign of the school after the day let out.
MW: Do you have any upcoming events you’d like to plug?
VJ: I’ll be teaching a class at PNCA starting soon in April. It’s about writing and illustrating children’s books.
MW: Anything you’d like to add for the readers of the Rose City Rollers blog?
VJ: I love roller derby. I love it!
Jamieson’s class at PNCA begins April 5.