Today I am so pleased to welcome Michael Vance Gurley to Joyfully Jay. Michael has come to talk to us about his latest release, The Long Season. He has also brought along a copy to give away. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Thanks so much for letting me talk about my new release, The Long Season from Bold Strokes Books. I’m giving away a free ebook to one lucky commenter. Today I want to talk about every LGBTQ+ person’s favorite sport…hockey. Wait, that’s not your favorite sport? That’s ok. The You Can Play project, the Pride Tape movement, and Gay and Lesbian Hockey Leagues across the nation, and of course, novels, are letting us know that it is growing into an LGBTQ+ favorite.
The Long Season is about a young hockey pro in the 1920s named Brett, who has superstar level skills, and is trying to make his way while being confronted with his desire for the handsome team goalie, who seems to be into him as well. I had to decide how much hockey action would make it into the book. The discovery between the two men, and what happens when they are found out is the crux of the story. Me, I love hockey, but the fact that most of the story takes place off the ice meant that there could have been minor ice time in the book. However, I decided early on that although most of the story is off the ice, the big moment of truth, at least one of them, would take place during the last game where my main character, Brett, would need to show the reader his choice by what he does during the final game. For that, a certain level of hockey knowledge was necessary. But how to build that without losing non-sports fan readers while exciting fans enough for them not to feel cheated by shady game scenes? Were there plot pieces that relied on the action and the readers’ understanding of the game mechanics in order to follow them?
When you are writing a sex scene, you can’t just write, “And, um, they made love, it was hot, and then they cuddled.” Well, not if you want your readers to believe that your characters are hot for each other. You also can’t write a thick, technically accurate portrayal of a hockey goal so that your players can rush off the ice to have a well-crafted sex scene either. You have to do both with thoughtfulness, craft, and believability if you expect it to ring true. I tried to slowly build the reader’s love of a new sport by describing what Brett was doing, and what made it amazing. Sports are so visual, so I tried to show a highlight film on the page rather than describe some detailed play-by-play in order to entice the reader. Over several chapters, I visit game action in short bursts, showing more of what hockey players do and expressing how talented they are in each chapter. If I were to try to explain positions, rules, and describe amazing situations in long drawn out hockey play-by-play, some folks might tune out.
When I picked up The Front Runner, a novel about a gay long distance runner, I remember thinking that I wasn’t interested in running as a sport. By the middle of the book, the descriptions of races, the philosophical discussion about lung capacity and strategies to win enthralled me, so that the relationships in the book grew deeper for me. When they finally get together, I wanted that for them too. When an author does the research and lets it fill in rather than become the story it works so well. Looking into the rules of hockey in the Roaring Twenties taught me so much, and there was a pull to explain how the game looked different back then, how hard the sport was, but ultimately, it was best to be authentic with dropping tidbits of historical facts to help people feel the movement and want Brett and Jean-Paul to win, and to win for each other.
Hopefully, readers will feel what I am talking about when reading The Long Season. To get you in the mood, you can watch the book trailer here. I am interested in hearing what people think of sports in novels, and what their favorite sports themed LGBTQ+ novels are. Please leave some comments below about the article, your favorite sport, or sports themed novel that was done well for a chance to win a copy of my new release. Thank you.
In Roaring Twenties Chicago, eighteen-year-old farm boy and hockey hopeful Brett Bennet is drafted to the big leagues of the city’s first ever team. His deepest secret catches fire when he meets the dashing but reclusive goalie, Jean-Paul Moreau. As they circle one another finding out who they truly are, their lives are changed in ways neither can control.
Brett will need the help of freewheeling flapper Margret to find a way to break through Jean-Paul’s ice, and to navigate the high stakes world of professional sports from the opening game through to the championship. Only together do they have a hope of facing the deadly threat of a man who can bring it all down with one word.
Michael was born in a Chicago hospital that was quickly condemned and torn down. He grew up and worked in the shadow of Capone’s house in a union hall, where he first discovered a love of gangsters and the Roaring Twenties. Being an avid hockey fan led him to kissing the Stanley Cup, and as an ardent traveler, he kissed the Blarney Stone, both of which are unsanitary and from which he’s lucky to only have received the gift of gab. Michael has many literary interests and aspirations. He self-published One Angry Koala, a well received comic book. His poetry has been printed in the Southern Illinois University newspaper, which was a real big deal back then.
Michael has worked with special needs children for nearly twenty years. His work with young adults led to a love of YA books, but he was raised with classic horror, beat poetry, and comics. As winner of a “Pitchapalooza” author event, Michael received some helpful guidance for his first novel, The Long Season, by literary agent/authors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, and editor Jerry Wheeler. Michael still lives in the Chicagoland area, and despite it being cliché, gets asked about gangsters whenever traveling abroad.
Michael has brought a copy of The Long Season to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Tuesday, July 19th at 11:59 pm EST.
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