Reader 1: This book gave me a whole new definition of soccer.
Reader 2: I loved it even if soccer is not my go to sport it was pretty awesome
Reader 1: I have only watched it on TV. Never been to a game. In Oregon it is just starting to catch on
Clare Lydon: Okay, I'm here! Sorry for the delay, first time in Slack, a whole new world. But nice to be here!
How is everyone?
Reader 1: Hi from the Pacific NW.
Reader 2: Welcome... From Germany
Reader 3: Hello from California
Clare Lydon: Hello from balmy London!
Reader 4: Hello from San Francisco
Reader 5: Thanks for joining us, Clare, we’re happy to have you!
Clare Lydon: Great to be here, and thanks for asking. I hope you all enjoyed Hotshot!
Reader 5: So for Clare and anyone else who is new to book club, the way this works is it’s a one-hour Q&A-type discussion and you can just jump in whenever you have a question 🙂
I also have a few questions from readers who couldn’t be here, and I’ll pepper those in whenever there’s space
Reader 1: I have a question for Clare. Do you have your characters fleshed out before the [lot or do you have the plot and the get the characters
That should be plot.
Clare Lydon: Hi [Reader 1], great question. I have a vague idea of the theme of the book, but what I normally do is just start writing and see what happens. When I get to 10k, I stop, plot the book, then normally have to go back and rewrite the first 10k a fair bit. I'm sure there are better ways, but it's only when I start to write that the characters come to me.
I don't do character profiles or any of that. What I do is just write, then edit, go back, add things into the story and foreshadow.
Reader 2: Oh wow 😲 that's dope
Reader 1: I know your love for footy as your have called it but did you have to do research to get all the elements together?
Clare Lydon: I was really nervous about writing this one to be honest. I've loved footy as long as I've been alive, and I guess I was scared at fucking it up!
My base knowledge is pretty good from playing it and from watching it on the TV and live at games
Reader 1: Seems like you did just fine but that is coming from someone who doesn’t understand the game.
Clare Lydon: My main research was going to women's football, reading articles on it, going to games, and basically stalking all the Lionesses on social channels!
Reader 1: Well done!
Reader 5: Any chance of getting a historical fiction spin-off featuring Sloane’s relative? I loved that storyline!
Reader 2: Yea that would be great to read
Clare Lydon: I don't think so! That story thread came to me when I watched a documentary on earlier women's football teams. Many people asked if it was a true story, but no, I made it up. I love it, though, and reckon it did happen.
Sorry, I just gave myself a thumbs up by accident. Silly Clare
Reader 5: Ah, you deserve it 😛
Reader 6: This is a great book who designed the cover
Clare Lydon: The cover was designed by my long-time cover designer, Kevin Pruitt. I've got two cover designers and they're both great. I could never do what they do, and i trust in them completely!
Reader 1: What is the women’s team called that you have been going to?
Clare Lydon: I support Tottenham Hotspurs (Spurs to their friends) men & women's teams. The women's team had a terrible season, nearly got relegated, stayed up by the skin of our teeth. I also go and see my local team, Charlton Women, and also my wife's team, Arsenal. They're way more successful with a roster of Lionesses including Beth Mead and England captain Leah Williamson.
Reader 6: Where did you get the idea to write about soccer?
Clare Lydon: I've always loved football and always wanted to write a football book, but it wasn't until last year's European Championship which England won that I was inspired to finally do it. It's the Lionesses fault. Blame them! But I'm glad they pushed me. And I'm really proud of the result. I was at that final at Wembley Stadium and it changed the game.
Reader 2: Tbh you made soccer a lot more interesting for me with this book
Clare Lydon: Really pleased to hear that! I wasn't sure if it was too footbally for readers who don't know the game. But really glad it held your interest. i think readers who don't love football will just skip the book and come back for my next one (hopefully). But I also like to think I've picked up some new readers along the way.
Reader 2: I do believe you have picked up some new ones. Including me.. It was amazing
Clare Lydon: Thank you, that means a lot.
Reader 1: is there a difference in pay and facilities between men’s and women’s team
Clare Lydon: It's HUGE, but like I said, England winning the Euros shone a light on the women's game in the UK. There's still a long way to go, but it's getting better. But the men earn so much more and get far better facilities. It's a legacy of the patriarchal system all over the world, which I touch on in the book. THe stories about the coach Lucy not having enough money to train and sleeping in her car - that was based on real-life women, playing for England, and they didn't have enough money to afford a home. This happened in the last 25 years. Shocking.
Reader 2: Wow that's crazy
Reader 1: So sad to see these players struggling in facilities that are dismal and finally the ice is breaking but should not have taken such a long time to correct.
Reader 5: I had no idea that women’s football is such a young sport, at least professionally speaking, until I read this
Clare Lydon: Yeah. It was doing well, until the FA banned it because it was getting too popular and threatening to overtake the men's game. We're forever playing catchup, but I never thought I'd see where we are today in my lifetime. It's incredible. Little girls today can dream of being footballers and that's immense.
Reader 5: From a reader who couldn’t be here, “I love a little angst in a story, do you like writing it?”
Clare Lydon: I do love writing the angsty scenes, even though I love the romance more. But every book needs a bit of drama, just like real life, otherwise it gets dull, right?! I sometimes wince along with the characters, though. I know what's coming, and they don't. But when I sit down to write a good, meaty angsty scene, it gets the juices flowing.
Reader 5: Do you have to force yourself to “killing your darlings” in those angsty scenes?
Clare Lydon: Depends on the character. In this book, a few readers said that in the angsty scene where Sloane and Jess meet again and Ella walks up - they said Ella doesn't follow her own psychological/coaching advice and she over-reacts. But I think that's what we do as humans - we say one thing and do another! I felt bad putting them in that situation, but it felt honest, too. If I was Ella, even though I wanted to believe Sloane, I would have gone overboard.
Reader 5: For sure, she already had a nagging feeling about Sloane not wanting to go public with her so she wasn’t in a headspace to take her own advice
Reader 2: I agree I'dve done the same
Clare Lydon: Glad you agree!
Reader 6: What was your favorite thing about writing this book
Clare Lydon: Probably the excuse to go to so many football games and chalk them up to research and a legitimate business expense! Haha. But also, writing about something I know so well and love made this book very personal. I wanted to weave in the past (which wasn't always roses) with the present day (more hopeful). Hopefully I did that.
Reader 6: I think you succeeded
Did you play soccer I personally played goalie
Clare Lydon: Yes. I wasn't very good. I was enthusiastic. I played wherever they put me, usually midfield. I was also very good at cutting half-time oranges. 🤣
Reader 5: lol the halftime oranges is definitely where I would excel too
Clare Lydon: I would have killed to be better at it. I was good when I was 10. Got less skillful as time went on... 🤣
But i can still trap a ball.
Reader 6: I hear you I was terrible but we still managed to win state my junior year in high school
Reader 1: I have been getting of understanding the game from watching Ted Lasso!
Clare Lydon: Still to watch that would you believe - we don't have Apple TV. But i only hear good things. Ryan Reynolds is over in the UK taking a lower league team into the national men's league. He's almost a real-life Ted Lasso!
Reader 1: I have watched that also because I do have some Welch hood in me!
Reader 5: I totally got some Ted Lasso vibes from this on account of the American in the UK element. You should watch it when you get a chance, Clare, and see if you agree 😀
Reader 1: I have loved it.
Clare Lydon: If it ever comes on a different channel that we have, I will. We have too much else on the other channels to get another! I'm hoping Netflix might scoop it…
Reader 5: At the very least eventually it will go to DVD and you can get it at the library - I have to wait for that to happen sometimes, but it requires inhuman levels of patience
Clare Lydon: DVDs from the library. Old school!
Reader 5: Right? I think I’m like one of 10 people in my city who still physically goes to the library
Reader 2: I'm sad there is not a library here in my town .. I have to get all my books online
Clare Lydon: I do still go to my local library, as it's two minutes from my house. I wrote some of Hotshot there, and they have a great LGBTQ+ section.
Reader 1: Sorry i cant type as fast as my brain works.
Reader 5: Another one from a reader, “What are the biggest positives and negatives of being a writer?”
Clare Lydon: Negatives: I can't write fast enough.
Positives: I get to do my dream job! Writing is hard work, but it's very rewarding. Getting your stories out there, representing, touching people with your tales. It's very humbling and gratifying.
I also love working for myself. I'd never done it before I became a full-time author, and now I can't imagine working for anyone else again. I love the freedom it gives me, too. I like to say I'm unemployable now. 😎
Reader 5: lol I know what you mean on that one - my priorities have totally shifted since I started working for myself
Clare Lydon: I was just on a yoga & fitness retreat this weekend, trying to persuade everyone else on it to give up their jobs and work for themselves. Apparently, it's not for everyone…
Reader 5: That’s true, it takes a certain personality type - although I think people who haven’t tried it and think they won’t be motivated underestimate how motivating the whole “if you don’t work you don’t eat” thing is
Clare Lydon: Very true! It does focus the mind.
Reader 1: You have written a ton of books. Is there any beside Hot Shot that you like the best?
Clare Lydon: I think Before You Say I Do will always hold a special place for me because it was the book that changed everything. It's my runaway best-seller, and it crossed into the mainstream. I'd also had the idea of having a bride fall for her bridesmaid in my back pocket for a while, and so the story had been stewing for a while. A little like Hotshot - I waited years to write that one.
But I also love Change Of Heart. I think for drama and romance, you can't beat it.
Reader 1: I have read both and totally agree that both are wonderful
Clare Lydon: Thanks Jan, lovely to hear. Change of Heart was written after a holiday to the Highlands, and it's my wife's favourite of mine.
She's nearly finished Hotshot!
Reader 1: How can you not be motivated after a trip to the Highlands
Clare Lydon: Exactly! It's one of the most inspirational places in the world
By the way, if anybody wants a free sapphic novella, sign up to my mailing list to get one:- I write to you every two weeks and I promise to always be entertaining.
Reader 2: It is quite entertaining I must admit 🤣 :the_horns::skin-tone-5:
Reader 5: One more from a reader who couldn’t join us: “Was being an author always your goal?”
And since you already somewhat answered that in another question, I’ll add on… if you woke up tomorrow and you HAD to choose another profession, what would it be and why?
Clare Lydon: No, being an author was what other people did, not me. I always worked with words (magazine/online journalist & editor), but never dreamed of doing this... until I did. Nobody's more surprised than me that I'm an author, still.
If I woke up tomorrow and had to do something else? Pop star. That's what I wanted to be when I was little. But I do belt out a mean Teenage Dirtbag at karaoke, so that will have to do!
Reader 1: 😄
Reader 2: Yessss :the_horns::skin-tone-5::the_horns::skin-tone-5:
Reader 5: We’re at the top of the hour already - that really flew! Anybody have more questions for Clare?
Reader 1: Thanks for spending time with us!
Clare Lydon: No problem, I had a great time, thanks so much for all your fabulous questions!
I'm off to watch the end of Elton John's set at Glastonbury. 🙂
Reader 2: Thank you for your time :the_horns::skin-tone-5::the_horns::skin-tone-5: you are awesome
Reader 5: Enjoy! Thanks so much for joining us
Clare Lydon: Thanks again for asking. Take care everyone, and thanks for reading and supporting indie authors. You're the best!
Reader 1: I dont know how we are picking the next author but I would like to nominate Lee Winter