Maggie Hill Pens Debut Novel, ‘Sunday Money’

 Maggie Hill Pens Debut Novel,  ‘Sunday Money’

By Katie McFadden

At a time when names like Caitlin Clark and others make frequent headlines, it seems women’s college basketball is more popular than ever. But it wasn’t always that way. Rockaway resident Maggie Hill’s debut novel, “Sunday Money,” tells the fictional story of a young girl in the early ‘70s, at the precipice of the passing of Title IX, whose love for basketball helps get her through a tumultuous time of a difficult family life and a transformative time in history for women and sports.

As a Kirkus Review reads, “Hill captures a watershed moment in the history of sports in a way that highlights how transformative athletics can be, especially in the lives of young women.” In this work of historical fiction, “Sunday Money” takes the reader back to the early 1970s, just ahead of the passing of Title IX, legislation that would ultimately allow women to reap in the same benefits as men when it comes to education and athletic programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance, paving the way for things like college basketball scholarships for women.

But this isn’t just a sports story. At 10 years old, things aren’t so easy for the main character, Claire Joyce, growing up in a middle class Irish Catholic family in Brooklyn. With an alcoholic mother, a father who works nights, a brother that dabbles in drugs and another in violence, Claire finds an escape after learning to play basketball through one of her brothers. Although the game looked a little different from how the boys were allowed to play, with bloomers and stricter rules, it is her love of the game that begins to give her some sense of control in her life. “Her love of basketball helps her survive spiraling things happening in her family,” Hill said, adding, “It’s not just a basketball story. It’s a story that shows how something like basketball can create some kind of power.”

Growing up in Brooklyn, and inspired by her own days on the court, watching the transformation of women’s basketball over the decades and seeing the full courts each summer at the St. Francis de Sales schoolyard, in the community she’s called home for the last 20 years, Hill began writing “Sunday Money” in 2017. As an adjunct creative writing professor at Kingsborough Community College since 2009, Hill has already seen some of her essays and non-fiction stories published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and Scholastic professional magazines. “Sunday Money” stems from some basketball scenes she had already written, as the characters started to take on their own life and dribbled across the pages into a full novel that was finished by the end of 2019.

After completing “Sunday Money,” Hill began fishing for publishers. She got a few bites from some small companies, but when she reeled in She Writes Press, a hybrid publisher for women authors that has an acceptance rate of 7%, she knew she had found a good fit. And that wound up being a wise choice. In August, She Writes Press titles will be distributed by Simon & Schuster, a major book publisher.

Hill’s book officially hit the stands on May 14. And in between book reading and signing events, she’s been soaking up the reality of becoming a published author. “It’s a really good feeling,” she said. “That feeling where you persevere and do something to the end gives you a big feeling of accomplishment.”

Through the historic time of the Vietnam War, the precipice of Title IX, the women’s right’s movement, and navigating her difficult home life, “Sunday Money” follows the journey of how Claire perseveres with the hope of pursuing her own big accomplishment, through basketball.

But Hill hopes “Sunday Money” is a story that anyone can enjoy. “I hope that many people read it and I hope that someone just really enjoys themselves. I’m not trying to teach anyone things. It just takes you through a little girl’s mind and watches her grow for seven years, and maybe gives you an appreciation for the time period and what it used to be like in terms of sports, and how every badass that plays basketball today is really part of this sea of change,” Hill said. “I hope people just enjoy it and have a good time.” In the meantime, Hill is already working on her second book.

In a drastic change from the story of a young girl playing basketball, Hill is about 75 pages deep into a story of a fictional detective from Breezy Point who’s on the case of a serial killer. “A crazy serial killer book is only as good as how frightened you are, and I’m getting scared,” Hill said. She expects to finish that book by December.

For now, add “Sunday Money” to your summer reading list. It’s available in most places where books are sold, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Bookshop, a smaller online retailer that gives back to small bookstores, as well as Brooklyn and Manhattan libraries, with plans to bring it to Queens. An audiobook version is also expected to be released at the end of July, voiced by Hill herself.

For more on Maggie Hill and her work, see:

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