Good morning y’all! We’re really excited to welcome Avery Cockburn on From Top to Bottom Reviews today! We asked her a couple of questions about her newest release Throwing Stones, her writing process and she shared a short (and funny) scene from the book with us. We hope you enjoy!
Sports romance are really popular at the moment (yay!) but Curling is uncommon as a topic, so, why Curling?
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! And thanks, Annie, for having me on your blog. I’m so excited to share the release of Throwing Stones with you and your readers.What makes curling ideal for romance? Ah, let me count the ways:
1. The sport is full of good guys. “The Spirit of Curling,” as codified in the sport’s official rules, encourages courtesy and respect. When an opponent screws up, you don’t cheer (well, not on the outside). When they make a great shot, you congratulate them. Curlers still have an intense competitive spirit, but it’s not expressed in trash-talking or tantrums.
2. The dirty talk. All that bottled-up energy has to go somewhere, right? Everyone knows about the skip yelling, “Haaaaaaard!” to their sweepers, but we also hear many other porny phrases:
“It’s a tight hole.”
“The deeper the better.”
“All the way! Never stop! Yes yes yes!”
“I’d tap that.”
For other examples, have a listen to this hilarious 2 Girls and a Game podcast episode (start around the 28-minute mark).
3. Tight shirts and stretchy trousers. I rest my case.
How did you get the inspiration for this story?
Two years ago after the Super Bowl, I was on Twitter when a curling match came on TV. I started joking about writing a curling romance, and readers loved the idea. Then I pretty much forgot about it until a year later on the same night in the same situation. I dug up those old tweets and decided, YES, I’m going for it, and it’ll be out in time for the Olympics!
As I watched more curling, I learned that the Scottish women’s champions, Team Muirhead, were coached by Canadian megastar Glenn Howard. Apparently this was a huge coup for Muirhead, because Canada rules the sport. That became the basic story—a romance between a Scottish curler and his arch-rival’s Canadian coach.
Do you have pic-spiration for the main characters you could share with us?
I started with a couple of guys in mind, but Oliver and Luca morphed into their own selves as I wrote them. In fact, they changed so much that when I found pics of those two men for this interview, I didn’t even recognize them anymore as Oliver and Luca.
So I guess the answer is no. 😀
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a detailed plan or do you “go with the flow”?
Normally I make a detailed outline, then write a quick and sloppy first draft followed by a heavy rewrite in which I often change the story dramatically. (Back when I wrote fantasy, some characters who lived in the first draft died in the final draft and vice versa. Or I’d cut characters completely, putting them in an existential limbo, never to be known. It was weird. I’m weird.)
When I went on a writers retreat at a friend’s house to plan Throwing Stones, I read Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing Into the Dark. (http://a.co/d1z5IQX) He advocates writing without a plan and staying in creative mode throughout the drafting process. Theoretically this results in a less predictable story—if the writer is surprised by each twist and turn, readers will be too.
This doesn’t mean barreling ahead and never looking back, NaNoWriMo style. On the contrary, it means fixing story problems as you think of them and editing as you go along—while you’re still in creative mode instead of critical mode, so that the changes you make still have that spark of inspiration.
Being a hardcore plotter and rewriter, I was skeptical. But I’m also addicted to trying new things.
So armed with a notebook and only the most basic character facts, I took a walk around my friend’s neighborhood listening to Wintersleep, an indie band from Oliver’s home province of Nova Scotia. As I returned to her house, the song “Shadowless” came on. I sat on her porch swing and listened to it on repeat for probably an hour:
Acoustic solo version by lead singer Paul Murphy (whom I’ve met and is sweet as pie):
His shadow is hovering inside of you
And I’m coming in
Coming in, in spite of you
Then I started writing, knowing only three facts:
1. Oliver was haunted by some male person in his past
2. Luca would do anything to banish that ghost.
3. Oliver would have “apple eyes.”
It was SO FUN to have that thrill of discovery while writing. And though I only averaged about 800 new words per day—because I rewrote and edited as I went along—when that draft was finished, the book was done. There were still copyedits and proofreading, of course, but the story itself was solid. I didn’t have to reimagine the entire plot like I usually do. YAY!
Do you have a favourite quote or scene, or maybe one you’re really proud of, in Throwing Stones?
With Oliver being Canadian and Luca Scottish, I had loads of fun with accent-induced misunderstandings. In this scene, they’re discussing why Oliver walked out in the middle of Luca’s meditation class the other night:
“I really want to learn meditation. I need to.” Oliver fidgeted with his jacket zipper. “But in that class, there were just so many people. I couldn’t focus, and the harder I tried, the worse it got.” He remembered how his thoughts had buzzed around his brain like hornets trapped in a jar.
“Focus isn’t about ‘trying,’” Luca said. “You can’t force it. If a group class doesn’t work for you, I can recommend some good apps for meditating on your own.”
“I’ve tried a few, but then it’s the opposite problem. When I’m by myself, there’s nothing to keep me on track. After the first ten seconds, I’m lost in a spiral of thoughts without realizing it. I don’t even hear the voice in my ear until it says we’re done.”
He noticed Luca was gazing up at him with what seemed like a mixture of amusement and…could it be awe? Oliver wasn’t always the best at reading faces.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Oliver touched the corner of his mouth, remembering the croissant. “Do I have crumbs?”
“No, you’re fine. I just love your arse.”
Oliver’s jaw dropped. “Uh…” He glanced down and back, feeling his cheeks flush. It seemed rude not to reply in kind. “Yours isn’t bad either…I guess?”
Luca squinted at him. “My what?” His eyes widened suddenly. “No, I said your Rs. The way you pronounce the letter R.”
“Oh jeez. Right. Sorry.” Oliver rubbed his face, which was heating more each second. “I don’t really think about it. It’s just how I talk.”
“It’s nice,” Luca said.
“To me it sounds ugly compared to how you say R here in Scotland. You know…” He sipped his coffee and looked away. “With your tongues.” Shit, we’re flirting. This can’t happen.
“Pfft. I hear those Rs all the time.” Pulling a set of keys from his pocket, Luca started to turn toward the Team Riley minivan, then stopped. “Did you think I was complimenting your arse? Because that would be highly inappropriate.” He smirked. “After all, you did say, ‘No as in never.’”
Explicit ADHD representation is hard to come by, especially when it comes to adult characters. Can you tell us a little bit about the topic, and how was the process of writing a character with ADHD?
Jessica at the amazing “How to ADHD” YouTube channel has a much more fun and thorough explanation than I could ever attempt:https://youtu.be/cx13a2-unjE. It boggles my mind that there aren’t more ADHD characters, considering:
1.how prevalent the condition is among adults—and especially among writers—diagnosed or not, and
2. people with ADHD are made for fiction. We cause chaos and conflict wherever we go! And then we angst about it for the rest of our lives.
The few ADHD characters I could find…well, I didn’t really recognize myself in them. That doesn’t mean the portrayals were inaccurate, only that the disorder presents in many ways other than the stereotypical hyperactive man-child. I wanted to depict someone who was managing their condition with treatments like therapy and medication, who still struggled (and always will) but whose life wasn’t a total shambles.
Like other psychiatric disorders, ADHD carries a hefty stigma—and more shame than most people can imagine. So writing Oliver felt both risky and liberating. There’s a chance readers will reject him as “lazy,” “stupid,” or “thoughtless,” the same labels I’ve borne throughout my life (mostly self-ascribed). On the other hand, if readers with ADHD can see themselves in Oliver, then maybe I’ve helped them feel a bit less shame, or at least a bit less alone.
And let’s face it, ADHD can be really funny at times, so it was quite the lark to depict Oliver’s quirks such as a hotel room covered in sticky-note reminders, his tendency to forget things people just told him a minute ago, or bumping into large inanimate objects for no reason whatsoever.
Last question, or rather a request: Rec us your favourite queer sports romance!
I gotta go with an “oldie” but goodie: Sarina Bowen’s Understatement of the Year. It was one of the first m/m romances I read when I started writing them. Though I no longer watch real-life hockey (the Washington Capitals have broken my heart too many times), I think it’s great how romance has brought more attention to the sport. Our curling club shares a sports complex with a skating rink, and I love to stop and watch the hockey whenever I can. It’s such a visceral sport, especially in person. Nothing gets my heart racing like a pair of bodies slamming against the boards!
Thanks again, everyone, for spending a few minutes of your Valentine’s Day with me. Visit my website to immediately download two FREE Glasgow Lads books, plus get access to loads of exclusive behind-the-scenes bonus features like commentaries, deleted scenes, and photos of characters and settings: https://averycockburn.com/signup/
Thank you, Avery!
In a sport where Murphy’s Law rules supreme, one slip can mean falling behind—or falling in love.
Oliver Doyle needs to win. After his reign as one of Canada’s top curlers is cut short by scandal, he arrives in Glasgow to coach Scotland’s next big team to a national championship. All that stands in the way of Oliver’s redemption is a band of upstarts led by an infuriatingly cute skip.
Luca Riley needs to chill. Or so he’s always believed, crafting a Zen-like serenity to carry his underdog curlers to the edge of greatness. To reach Nationals, Team Riley just have to keep calm and beat their arch-rivals—and their hot new Canadian coach—in one final bonspiel.
Luca and Oliver form an instant, irresistible bond. For the first time, Oliver shares the secret shame that’s kept him off the ice for years, and Luca finds true acceptance for who he is. As the tournament races toward a nail-biting climax, Oliver must face his past before it consumes him again. And Luca must choose between the dream he can taste and the man he could love.
Hiya, I’m Avery Cockburn (rhymes with Savory Slow Churn). My days are filled with beautiful men who play beautiful games in the most beautiful place in the world. Being an author is pretty much the best job ever.
I live in the United States with one infinitely patient man and two infinitely impatient cats. Readers make my day, so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sign up for my readers group at www.averycockburn.com/signup to get loads of exclusive Glasgow Lads bonus material. Cheers!
Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Self Published Tag: Interview Tag: Own-Voices Tag: Part of a series Avery Cockburn Glasgow Lads On Ice Throwing Stones