One of the things I've been asked a lot this week is why I decided to write a rugby romance so I thought it would be fun sharing with you all not only how Trying Sophie came to be, but also how I first discovered rugby and what an important role it currently plays in my life.
As many of you know, my husband and I are Americans who are on an expat assignment in Ireland with his company, having moved here in September 2015. With only a two year visa, we told ourselves that we were going to throw ourselves into all the activities we could manage in order to get the most of our time here. The week we landed in Ireland last year was smack dab in the middle of the Rugby World Cup, which for those of you who don't know, is basically a competition that takes place every four years that is all about elite rugby being played at the highest level of the sport. If ever there was a good introduction to a sport you're unfamiliar with, this was it. From our temporary housing, we walked over to one of Dublin's historic pubs to watch the Ireland v Italy match, which Ireland won easily. Despite us having a friend back home who plays, we knew nothing about what was happening on the TV, but the crowd's energy was infectious and soon we were cheering along with other fans. To help keep players straight in my head, and to talk about them with my husband, I even gave them nicknames. We left the pub that night having had a great time and decided we'd go back for the next match. By that time, we'd moved into our house so that time we walked down the street to our local which was at full capacity. This time, I'd read up a bit on the game so I had a better understanding of what was happening, even if I didn't quite know who was who or understand all the intricacies. This was the Ireland v France match and it ended up being a turning point in my love of the sport. You see, early on, several of Ireland's star players got injured pretty bad which necessitated bringing on several back up players. Now, when you're playing for your national team, obviously you're an amazing athlete, but there's just something about the underdog story that speaks to me. Maybe because I was never chosen first for anything, I love the idea of "second best" coming in and making good on their promise. And that's what happened during this match. Spoiler alert: against all odds, Ireland won! I walked out of the pub with a huge grin on my face, talking about how I couldn't wait to go to some local matches. Unfortunately the next week Ireland was trounced by Argentina, but my interest was firmly on its way to being cemented. Fast forward a couple of weeks later, and we were sitting in the stands at our local professional rugby team's match against a team from Scotland and seeing it live and in person was such a thrill! Even with the "B" team on the field (the internationals were resting up from their showing at the RWC), the game was electric and pulse-pounding. I knew then that I was a fan and I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the sport.
It was around the time that we were attending more and more home matches that I started thinking about what book I should write next. A few friends were going to participate in NaNoWriMo so I decided I'd give it a try - again. One thing you should know about me: I fail every year at this writing exercise. I knew I wanted to write about a rugby player but that was all I knew. The more I thought about who he was, the more crystal clear my heroine became. She had to be strong, she had to be independent, and she had to challenge him in a way no other woman ever had. And then a funny thing happened, as Sophie came into clarity, Declan did too ... and then the supporting characters just fell into place.
All told it took me almost a year to write Declan and Sophie's story, and I know in the world of contemporary romance - never mind contemporary sports romances - that's a long time, but I wanted to do it justice. One thing you'll notice if you've read Trying Sophie is that it's what we liked to call a slow burn and everything happens in due course. This is no overnight insta-love story but rather one that mimics a lot of how relationships happen in real life. Despite their immense attraction to one another, Declan and Sophie take the time to get to know each other (and themselves!) along the way until they both realize that the other is it for them. I wanted to write the type of book that I enjoy reading most, and I accomplished that with Trying Sophie. The only sad thing was having to put the final period on their love story. Thankfully though, there's a whole slew of Dublin Rugby players' stories to explore, so I hope you'll stick with me for those as well.