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There’s a saying among authors to write what you know. This means to start with a subject or emotion you know well enough to communicate clearly to readers. Personally, I know about being a nerdy wallflower growing up, teaching high school, raising a child with special needs, working in a restaurant, being backstage for a theater production, … and I know football.
Not only did I grow up playing football with the boys at recess and then my dad and brothers while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to finish roasting, I am married to a high school coach and our oldest son plays the game.
So when I first felt God’s nudge to write a book, football and faith were my top two ideas. Since I immediately saw a number of parallels between life and the game of football, I wrote Pigskin Parables and it was published in 2007. The first version has since been re-formatted and republished as an 11-week devotional journey and I have a shorter collection of devotional blog posts to complement the non-fiction side of writing about football.
But my dream was to write fiction.
I wanted to craft the types of stories that captured my own imagination and create characters that lived beyond the pages. In the collection of story ideas flitting around in my head and on scraps of paper for years, the characters ranged from a Regency kitchen servant to a pioneer school teacher to a formerly Amish young woman to a diner waitress to a dinner theater actress … to a college student who hated football but had to work with the athletes.
Some of these ideas grew into full length manuscripts while others fell to the wayside (at least for now). But the story nugget revolving around football kept niggling at the corners of my mind until I finally figured out why someone would hate football. Not just apathy or confusion. Hatred. Loathing. Disgust. Rooted in deep pain.
Then, what reason would be big enough to keep them locked into a situation where they had to be around football players every day?
And better still, what kind of a hero would it take to change her mind?
As I thought about these two characters, they had to be in a college football setting. Beyond the intense on-field preparation, conflicts, and pressure to win, my hero was so passionate about football that his players pitied the hypothetical girl would have to compete with a game. When I added in the athletic stereotypes (only so I could bust them to pieces!), what other sport is known for self-absorbed, I’m-king-of-the-mountain-because-I-play-football egos? And what about the whole fraternization between staff and students angle? Built in conflict to make this writer’s job easier!
Yes, there are quite a few football-related scenes in Catch Of A Lifetime and not just because of the setting and the secondary characters. My hero is a coach and football is all he thinks about. It wouldn’t have been realistic to have his mind consumed with sappy, romantic thoughts about the heroine when surrounded by game action with his future job on the line. And while I toned down the technical stuff I hear over dinner conversations nightly, I couldn’t have the hero describe a slot receiver as “that guy who catches the ball” and still maintain credibility.
But in case you’re worried there might be too much football, several of my endorsers and beta readers are NOT football fans and loved the story. In fact one said Catch Of A Lifetime “is sure to score a touchdown with football fans and romance readers alike.”
Just what I wanted to hear when I set out to write a story about football.
What about you? Do you know about football or not? Would reading a story set around a college football team excite you or turn you off? Why? If you were to write a book, what do you know that would find its way onto the pages?
P.S. If you want to order a copy for yourself or a loved one, Catch of a Lifetime is available for pre-order now and the Kindle version is on sale for $1.99 until launch. Not to mention, preorders are critical for a successful launch and would make this author extremely happy. 🙂