Thanks, Lisa, for letting me stop by today! I’m thrilled to be here to talk about the Hat Trick series, including the just released Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound. I’ll check in periodically through the day, so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. Plus, I’m offering up a free e-book of Hat Trick 2 to one lucky commenter.
One of the questions I often get about the Hat Trick series is “Why hockey?”
The hockey back drop ties directly to where the inspiration for Simon and Alex came from. For more than a decade I played hockey with the New York City Gay Hockey Association and during that time, I often went to an early Saturday morning practice. Among the people I met, there was a trio of recent high school graduates. These guys were the tightest of friends and as I got to know them, my mind wandered. The guys were straight, but what if they really weren’t? What if there was a secret crush, or two? What if two of the three ended up dating each other?
Sure, I could put the friends into any setting for the story. I kept hockey, however, because I’d never seen a young adult, gay romance where the leads were hockey players. I’d seen other sports (football, tennis, track, to name a few) represented in the YA genre, but not the sport I loved most. (To note, there are quite a few M/M adult romances set with hockey players, some of which are quite good… but that’s another topic completely.) As such, Hat Trick is set with Simon and Alex as seniors in high school, and it plays out over the hockey season. For Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound, the guys cross from the young adult to the new adult genre, but still play hockey as they navigate their way through their sophomore year at the University of Michigan.
The hockey setting helps beat back stereotypes. Despite programs like You Can Play and the fact there are out gay athletes in pro sports–thanks to Michael Sam and Jason Collins–not everyone gets that gay guys can play, and excel, in team sports. With hockey being one of the hardest hitting sports, to have Simon and Alex playing at a high level is an important message, especially for the high school and college crowd. The books also show how powerful it can be to be part of a team, with the strength of a common goal and some tight friendships.
To see Simon and Alex go from a hard hitting game to romance lets the reader see the tough and tender sides of these guys, and I like that. As an author I enjoy writing that range and as a reader, I like reading it when I pick up a book with athletes as the principal characters.
Here’s a quick exceprt from Hat Trick 2: Playing the Rebound, showing Simon, Alex and some of their teammates.
Blurb: The events from two years ago are still fresh in Simon Robert’s mind as he and Alex Miller begin their sophomore year at the University of Michigan. Nightmares are a routine occurrence as Simon relives the crimes his father and brother committed. Now, with his father ill and asking to see him, Simon must decide if he should see the man who tried to send him away to be fixed. And then there’s Zach. Simon’s conflicted about making peace with his older brother who tormented him as they grew up and caused him to be outed to his parents, friends and teammates.
Alex wants Simon to find closure, but Alex is furious at the thought of forgiving Zack. With no clear direction, Simon finds guidance from an unexpected, but very welcome, source.
At the same time, the University’s student body is faced with an anti-gay attacker among them. When he witnesses an attack first hand, memories threaten to overwhelm Simon. At the same time, he’s also emboldened to take action, which might turn him into a target.
Despite the distractions, Simon works towards his future as he begins working with teens at the local LGBT community center. He has the opportunity to use his story as a teaching tool to help others come out. While he’s never enjoyed telling his story, he looks for the courage to speak his truth to an audience.
Luckily, not everything is chaos. Simon and Alex mark their anniversary in epic fashion, continue to play hockey and hang out with good friends. But with many demands on them, can Simon and Alex set up the rebound necessary to create the scoring opportunity for their future?
Excerpt: “Hey, Roberts, great pass through the traffic,” said Captain Greg. “I wasn’t sure you saw me up there.”
“Always gotta keep an eye open for options,” I said, heading for the locker room. It was another long practice, designed to get us ready for an away game at the end of the week. We were 5-3 and Coach worked us extra hard after the loss we’d suffered yesterday. I thought I’d seen all of Coach Rapp’s drills; but he added some new ones. It was great, and exhausting.
“That was good today,” Trent said. “I love it when we work that hard.”
“Yeah. Like Coach said, we need to play that hard even when our opponent doesn’t. Tackle every game like it’s all on the line right there. I think he drilled that into us loud and clear today. While I enjoyed it, I think I’ll feel it for a couple days.”
A hand landed on my helmet and gave my head a good shake as I grabbed my sticks off the bench.
“You trying to rattle my brains out? Wasn’t the puck hitting me in the head enough, you big goon.”
I knew it was Alex. It’d become a thing for him to shake my head after a good play. I liked it. Today, however, I had to give him grief since one of his slap shots slammed into my helmet.
“Sorry. I’ll make it up to you later.”
Skating next to me and Trent, he gave me the grin that he knows gets him out of trouble, even fake trouble. Trent shook his head.
“You two are way too cutesy,” he said with a smirk on his face as we entered the tunnel that led back to the locker room.
“I wouldn’t call it that,” Alex said, “It’s about staying out of trouble.”
“I’m not sure you’re out of trouble, not until you actually make it up.” I playfully shoved into him as we rounded the corner into the locker room. I took off my helmet, dropped it to the floor and started stripping out of my sweat soaked gear. “I think you might owe me dinner for that shot to the head, and I’m not talking dining hall either.”
“I’m always up for taking you out,” he said.
“Yeah, you’re always up for doing something to him,” said Trent.
“At least I’ve got someone to be up for.”
The room gave a collective “Ooooh” while Alex, me, and even Trent, laughed.
I liked that Alex and I got the same joking the straight players got about their girlfriends. It showed the solid camaraderie we had. Not everyone participated, but there was no outright hatefulness either, which was exactly the way we wanted it.
“Roberts, I gotta know, have you ever gotten it up for a girl?” asked Tyler. “Do you even know what you’re missing?”
“I dated a girl in high school, but it never went beyond kissing.”
The vibe in the room shifted, like people were waiting to see the reaction to Tyler’s question. It wasn’t the first time I’d been asked this, though never in such a public setting.
“What about you, Miller?”
“Nope. It’s always been guys for me.”
“You have no idea how good it is then,” Tyler said, coming closer to us and slinging his arm around my shoulder. “Smooth skin, supple body, perfect curves. Maybe you just didn’t have the right girl.” He looked right at me as he said that.
“Really, Tyler?” asked Greg, our captain. Greg was the model of manners. He sometimes got gently ragged on for how much he was the Miss Manners of our group, but we all respected him. The mix of good manners, balanced with his self confidence and leadership abilities made him a great captain.
“What? It’s just a question.” He went back to his locker and continued to change.
“Okay, just a question then,” Alex said, “have you ever had a guy? The strong muscles, scratch of the beard, and I would also say perfect curves.”
“No way, man,” Tyler said as he stored his gear. “I’m all about women.”
“Safe to say I’m all about guys,” I said and pointed at Alex “Specifically this one.”
“Still, you just don’t know…”
“Tyler, geez,” said Erik, his line mate. “Let it go.”
They continued to bicker at their lockers, like an old married couple having a disagreement. I smiled at the irony as I wrapped a towel around my waist.
About Jeff: Jeff Adams started writing fiction in middle school and hasn’t stopped since. “Hat Trick,” his debut novel, was published in September 2013. He’s currently working on the next two novels of the “Hat Trick” series. Prior to this, he wrote several m/m romance shorts. Jeff lives in New York City with his husband, Will. He plays hockey with the New York City Gay Hockey Association and writes about the Detroit Red Wings, and reviews books that feature gay hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com.
You can learn more about Jeff’s writing at the following places:
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