Friday, 31 August 2012

It's Friday, and I'm talking football, and my new book...

It's been a slow writing week, but at least I know what I'm writing now; I have a plot, I have characters, I have a clear idea of where this book is going.  It's just that my concentration levels have been questionable lately.  But that's my own fault - I've had a lot on my mind, and I've let those things take over and distract me.  And seeing as it's Friday I can't imagine that my concentration is going to come cartwheeling back today, but stranger things have happened.

However, after months of faffing about with a book I just didn't feel comfortable writing, at least now I'm back on familiar territory, writing a book I feel more than comfortable writing.  And do you know how I knew that this was the right book to be working on now?  Because I can picture it in my head as a movie.  I think I've mentioned this in a previous post a while back, that I try to visualise scenes in my books as though they were movie scenes and if I can do that, if I can picture that in my head then I know I'm on the right track.  And as I lay in bed last night, relaxed for the first time in a long time (and, I have to say, ecstatically happy that Ian Beale has finally taken off that bloody hat he's been wearing on Eastenders for about a month now - I can't begin to tell you how irritating that hat was becoming) I began to imagine the opening scenes of my book as if they were playing out on a movie or TV screen.  And they worked!  I could visualise the characters, I even had a soundtrack in my head, and you have no idea how relieved that made me feel.

For months I'd been playing about with a Christmas romance, rewriting it over and over again but still it never felt right, whereas with this new book, I know I'm on the right track.  I tell you, I've never breathed such a huge sigh of relief.  I honestly thought my writing mojo had buggered off completely.  But no.  It appears that it was just testing me.

So, I'm now immersing myself in the world of football.  Because that's the world in which my new book is to be set.  Now, I know I might give out the idea that I really couldn't care less about a game that sees a group of grown men kicking a ball round a field for 90 minutes, and when it starts to interfere with Coronation Street, as it's doing tonight (I care not a jot about Chelsea's cup run, but I do care about what happens to Tyrone in Corrie!), I couldn't.  I really couldn't care less.  But, believe it or not, I'm actually a bit of a secret football fan.  Have been since I was quite young, actually.  I have very happy memories of Saturday nights sitting snuggled on the sofa with my dad when I was little, watching 'Match of the Day' while he tried to explain the offside rule to me - and I still don't fully understand it, but there you go.  I was a season ticket holder at Newcastle United (much to my Sunderland supporting husband's disgust!), I've met numerous famous players from Gary Lineker to Peter Reid (who's a lovely, lovely man, I have to say), visited a local news programme to see how they put together their sports bulletin and spent time at local radio station, Metro Radio, on a couple of Saturday afternoons back in the 1980s, sitting in with them as they did their afternoon football programme.  I've spent nights on the terraces watching Newcastle get beaten by Manchester United or Arsenal in re-arranged evening matches, and I've cried when England got knocked out of the World Cup in 1990 in a semi-final that, quite frankly, drained me.  Took me days to get over that tournament.

So, I don't really dislike the sport.  I dislike the way it's become more money-focused; I dislike the way players seem to be a lot more arrogant than they used to be purely because they think the ridiculously inflated wages they earn seem to give them some kind of "God" status.  I hate all that.  Back in the good old days of football few players were deemed "celebrities" and few earned the stupid money players earn today.  There was George Best, of course, but he was the exception.  Back then players went out and played football because they loved the game.  I'm not saying they don't now, but they're more money-driven these days.  Back then games used to be played in all kinds of weathers, even snow.  I remember watching many a 'Match of the Day' in the winter months where they'd just shove them out onto the snow-covered pitch with a bright orange ball and tell them to get on with it.  When you look back at old footage of matches from the 70s and 80s the state of the pitches was unbelievable!  They played in mud baths half the time, but nobody had a problem with that.  These days, pitches seem to have to be immaculate before any of these men can set foot on them.  Players are treat more like prima donnas than they used to be, or that's the way it seems to me.

But, I do still actually enjoy watching a good game of football, with the emphasis on the word "good".  I'm married to an ardent football supporter so I've got no choice but to engage in football-related conversation now and again, even if Sunderland's latest signing isn't top of my list of priorities at that particular time.  One day my husband will learn that, during 'Holby City', I have no interest whatsoever in Martin O'Neill's team choices.

So, is it that secret love of the "beautiful game" that made me want to write this new book of mine?  Subconsciously, maybe.  But, when all's said and done, the story just came to me when I was idly watching a match on TV one afternoon, and the idea just grew.

I'm currently reading 'I Am The Secret Footballer', a book written by a professional footballer whose identity is, as the title suggests, being kept tightly under wraps, because he's still playing.  This book started out as columns written for The Guardian newspaper, and it's a book which gives us an insight into the football world from someone who's been there, done that, and worn the football strip.  He tells us things that maybe we aren't supposed to know about, hence the secret bit.  He gives us his opinions on fellow players, managers, even that very recent phenomenon the WAG.
An interesting insight into the world of professional football

And what he's doing for me, in particular, is helping me with research I couldn't possibly have got from anywhere else, unless me dad was Terry Venables or something.  It's incredibly interesting.  Well, to me it is, anyway.  I'm enjoying it, and at a time when I need to have my football-loving head on, the timing of its release couldn't have been better.

Now, please don't be put off by the football theme in this new book of mine.  It isn't about the world of football as such, it's just set in and around the game.  The main male character is a professional player, and the main female character has been involved in the sport in some way or another all her life, but the story is first and foremost a romance.  A sexy romance, a dark romance.  It's going to be story of fame, self-destruction, hope, and, yes, lust.  Quite a bit of that.  But all set against the backdrop of top-flight football, because this game is giving me characters I am loving creating!  Larger-than-life and not that far from reality.  Believe me...


  1. Sounds intriguing, Michelle. Glad you got your mojo back - it's a panicky feeling, I know, but great when you find yourself back on track again. Keep up the good work and make that writing fairy unpack her bags and stay! xxx

  2. Thanks, Amanda. :) I'm thinking of holding the writing fairy hostage and refusing to let her go until I've finished this book!! ;) xxx