Summer Time Inspiration for Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp
Thanks, Lisa, for having me over to talk about the latest in the Hat Trick series. I hope everyone takes a moment to say hello in the comments. I’ll stop back over periodically during the next couple days to answer any questions that may come up.
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Since the Hat Trick series involves hockey players, it’s probably not a surprise the stories are primarily set in the fall and winter months. Periodically readers have heard mention of things Simon and Alex either planned to do over the summer, or actually did over the summer. But until Hat Trick Overtime: Summer Camp, readers haven’t gotten the first hand look at the boys during summer. This new short story installment of the series takes place at the start of summer between their junior and senior years in college.
The initial inspiration to place a story in the summer came as I caught a bit of High School Musical 2 on Disney Channel late last summer, shortly after Hat Trick 2 came out. HSM aficionados know that part two sends the East High gang off to work for the summer at a country club, while the other two movies take place during the school year. I decided it would be fun to get Simon and Alex out of school and send them off for some summer fun. Previously, there’s been mention of them going camping and so a summer camp seemed a great place for them to spend time. Of course, I didn’t let them get too far away from hockey.
This camp, which I’ll admit right off doesn’t exist, was an ideal place for them. They love hockey. They like working with teens, which of course is Simon’s field of study as he pursues his social work degree. The time at camp also gives them the chance to hang out with each a lot since they’re working together the entire time. For this summer trip, they even got to invite best friend Leo along, which was a great bonus since they don’t get to see him very much.
Summer Camp was a super fun story to write since it took the boys somewhere new. To have them coaching the team as well as stealing a few moments with each other was a blast. Frankly, the whole camp setting was cool and made me wish a place like it actually existed. I know of plenty of hockey camps, but not one nestled in the woods like this one (I figure it doesn’t exist for good reason since it would likely cost a small fortune to operate the rinks in the setting I used.)
Simon and Alex also realize this is likely the last summer that will be like this. With graduation on the horizon, they know that soon enough life will be about jobs and grad school and an increasing amount of adult things. So they live it up here, working in the sport they love, helping teens get better at it… oh, and they do celebrate Alex’s birthday with a bit of fun. I suppose I should’ve thrown in a musical number since HSM2 was my initial inspiration for the story, but that might be over the top.
Next up in the world of Hat Trick is Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot, which will arrive this summer with a focus on senior year and what lies beyond. In the meantime, I’ve got an excerpt here that showcases the fun Simon and Alex have at summer camp.
BLURB: Simon and Alex, now between their junior and senior years at The University of Michigan, decide to put their jobs on hold for a month and take the opportunity to coach hockey at a summer camp for teenagers.
They’ve got a cabin full of good players to work with and the focus is to get them ready to win the camp championship. One camper, sixteen-year-old Dylan, requests extra help because he needs to get a scholarship and the guys make it their mission to help him succeed.
With their best friend Leo along for the trip, Simon and Alex are setup for a great time at camp, until another coach tries to seduce them. How they respond to the unwanted advances, while balancing commitments to their campers, will test them both.
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EXCERPT: Everyone had voted to hang out, swim, relax and take in some early evening sun. I was in the water with a number of our guys playing Frisbee. It was a beautiful afternoon. The clear water cooled provided a nice contrast to the warmth in the air. It would’ve been nice just to float on the surface, but it was fun playing something besides hockey with the guys too.
Alex relaxed on shore talking with some other coaches and campers. As I admired the evening sun shimmering on his bare chest, the Frisbee sailed right past me. It was a good thing we didn’t play hockey with any skin exposed, I’d never do anything right.
“Sorry,” I said, scooping the disc out of the water and throwing it back into play.
“You know, you’re always telling us to focus,” said Roger, one of our goalies, as he made a catch. “That wasn’t a very good example.”
“You see him undressed all the time, you know,” Ty chimed in. “You don’t have to stare right now.”
“Don’t give him a hard time,” Dylan said. “If my girlfriend were sitting up there with a bikini on, I’d sure be staring at her rather than playing some silly game.”
Just as Dylan finished talking, I made a sneaky interception off of one of his teammates. “How’s that for focus?” I raised the Frisbee in the air triumphantly before sending it soaring over everyone to someone on my team.
“Show off,” Ty said.
We played until the guys were worn out, which was still a couple hours before lights out. I was surprised they lasted that long after playing three intense games. Alex and I hung out behind the group as we made our way back to the cabin.
“You know, you need to not look so hot all the time. I got called out for a lack of focus because I was paying to much attention too you.”
“Ha,” he said, with a wicked grin. “You should be able to ignore me when you need to.”
I laughed. “Not possible.”
Most of the guys hit the showers after being in the lake, while others, including Dylan, used a ball to work on passing in front of the cabin. Alex headed for the showers, too, so that one of us would here the cabin started its evening rituals. Someone played music inside, but not so loud as to bother anyone.
I sat on the stairs watching the passing game, coaching and offering tips as needed. I fought the urge to join them. Alex and I played with them sometimes in our end-of-day scrimmages but mostly we wanted them to work with each other, and just take tips from us. I allowed myself to stretch out on the stairs, watch the game and enjoy watching evening desend on the camp.
Dylan was looking good passing with his cabinmates. His face would occasionally cloud over when he did something he knew wasn’t quite right. I saw it in the game earlier, too. He wasn’t verbalizing as much when he was frustrated with himself. It seemed more internal now.
The line at the shower cabin got shorter as most of our guys returned. Alex came back from the staff facility as well. The boys passing out front took their cue from the returning traffic that they needed to get a move on if they wanted to wash the lake off. Alex sat on the stairs next to me, fully dressed in t-shirt, shorts and sandals, but still running a towel through his hair. We sat quiet for a while, watching the traffic go by, often waving at people.
BIO: Jeff Adams caught the writing bug in middle school and finally became a novelist with the Hat Trick series. He’s currently working on the final novel in the series, Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot, which is due out this summer. He’s also written a number of m/m romance shorts, including the recent re-release of Rivals. Jeff and his husband, Will, live in the peaceful, coastal beauty of Humboldt County, California. He also covers the Detroit Red Wings, as well reviews books that feature LGBT hockey players, for PuckBuddys.com. To learn more about Jeff, visit jeffadamswrites.com and follow him on Twitter at @hockeyguynyc. You can also sign up to receive email updates from Jeff (no more than two per month) at http://eepurl.com/7TJC9.
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