My guest this week is Del Darcy, whose book Fair Catch is a romance centered around the world of football. She’s kindly agreed to answer a few questions about her debut novel, as well as share a little of the journey that led her to write it.

Welcome to the Boys on the Brink Blog, Del. Has it always been a dream of yours to be a writer?

Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the invitation. As most writers do, I read a great deal as a child and a teenager. I was pretty much a bookworm, and that is always the basis for any love of writing, I think. I became interested in fiction writing by way of journalism. In hindsight, I was extremely influenced by the book and later the movie All the President’s Men about the Watergate scandal.

I dabbled in fiction and poetry as a teenager, but wrote nonfiction and journalism for years before I seriously began trying to write fiction again as an adult. My first adult attempt at a novel is still unfinished — it’s about country music and is set in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. And I started it about ten years before I began writing Fair Catch. So to answer your question, I would say, I was always attracted to writing, and certainly always loved reading, but my first serious efforts at writing were in journalism rather than fiction. I came to fiction much later.

And what attracted you to the genre of gay young adult fiction?

This may be hard to believe, but I didn’t start out to write a book in that genre. Once the book was finished, and I was giving serious thought to how to market it, I did the research, found the publishers to submit to, learned the category labels so that I could pitch it successfully. But the characters came first. Then the story. The marketing genre was an afterthought.

That said, I’m delighted to have published in this genre, and even more important than that, I’m delighted that this genre is developing and growing, and that my publisher Prizm as well as a growing handful of other publishers are realizing there is an audience, and also, I believe, a real need in society, for stories like the one I wrote — stories that show gay relationships as normal, that show LGBT people living their ordinary lives instead of being the villain or the comic relief.

In short, I’m so ready for publishing and Hollywood to retire the cliches and stereotypes and give us more gay characters who are three-dimensional people and who are protagonists. I think that’s so important as we move through this new century.

Can you remember how the idea for Fair Catch first came to you?

Yes! I was sitting in the bleachers, watching my nephew play football. I’d been writing a lot that year, experimenting with several kinds of stories, and I remember thinking, “What about a romance centered on the world of football? Endless potential for drama.” I started thinking about a football player and cheerleader — kind of the story it would have been if the characters of Bill and Jenn had been center stage. But then immediately I thought, “No — what if two players fell in love?” And so I started thinking about possible characters, and the story took off from there. For me, story always starts with characters.

Football plays a major role in this novel, and you obviously know the game inside-out. Was this already a passion of yours, or did you have to do a lot of research?

I’m so glad if the football backdrop works! I do love football, college more than pro, but until I got serious about writing Fair Catch, I was more of an emotional fan than an informed fan, and had not really learned the finer points of the game. To pull off the novel, I did indeed do a great deal of research. I’m so glad you feel I succeeded in presenting it. To do justice to the football, I read a lot, talked to people I know who were players, and had them talk to me during games we watched in person and on television. I used details from real games in the book, changing the circumstances to fictionalize them and make them work in my narrative.

I have to say, I totally fell in love with both Blake and Alex, probably because they felt so real. To what extent do you base your characters on people you know, and how much comes solely from your imagination?

Blake and Alex aren’t based on anyone I know. I adore them too, and I’m so glad they seem real. Because they certainly seem real to me! Celia is a composite of people I know from the restaurant business. If anyone in the book is based directly on an individual from my own life, it’s a couple of minor characters: One who appears for one brief scene — Julian. And also Aaron Parkhill. Aaron was shamelessly copied from a great guy I used to know, and given a new name. In real life, he was a baseball player, not a football player. Oh, and also, Blake’s Buick is from my own life.

Much as I adored Fair Catch, and I truly did, I found it tough to read at times. I cared so deeply for the heroes, and it was heartbreaking to watch them drift apart. Did you find this an emotional book to write?

Yes, definitely I did. I hated breaking them up, and I hated what happened to Dakota. But the conflict was essential to the story. The plot that I ended up writing kind of violated the typical mold of many romance-plot books I’ve read, in that I had to push the lovers apart for so much of the second half of the book. But I tried not to worry too much about genre expectations. I simply wanted to remain true to the story as it suggested itself to me. I think that difference from the typical plot perhaps made the happy ending all the sweeter! I hope so, anyway.

What’s up next for your writing? Any new novels for us to look forward to?

To be honest, the editing and publishing process was rather draining! No criticism intended; it was just the first time for me, and copy editing and proofreading is a lot harder than writing. So I’m still kind of in the hangover phase, plus being simply amazed that the book got published and that I can hold it in my hands. That’s so cool! Very satisfying for a writer. A real milestone.

So, looking ahead, the next couple of things I’m working on are very different from Fair Catch, and from each other — I’d love to finish the novel I mentioned earlier, the one about country music. And I’ve got a lot of energy invested in the beginnings of a sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

I’m very restless and cranky when I’m not writing steadily, so I’m hoping something will take off for me soon. I tend to work on several things at once, switching among them as my energy ebbs and flows, until one project develops momentum. Then I focus on that until it’s done. And I’m definitely drawn to the novel form.

Thanks so much again for giving me this interview, Del. Is there anywhere readers can find out more about you and your books?

Thank you for asking, Jamie! It’s been a pleasure. I maintain blogs at deldarcy.dreamwidth.org and deldarcy.livejournal.com and have also posted several times about the book at my publisher’s blog Thank you for reading!

Buy Fair Catch from Amazon

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