What a perfect way to end the week! I’ve mentioned before that Jan Brigden and I have been on-line friends for longer than I can remember: you might have read her interview on Being Anne in January, just after As Weekends Go was released as an e-book. It’s now available in paperback – published by Choc Lit on 7th September – and I couldn’t be more thrilled for her. It’s attracting lots of attention too – Lovereading chose it as one of their weekly staff picks. And just to make everything absolutely perfect, we had the pleasure of finally meeting in person last Saturday, and Jan was every bit as lovely in person as she’s always been when we’ve chatted on line.
In case you haven’t read about As Weekends Go before, here’s the story:
What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?
When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.
She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …
But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?
I’ll share my review again below, but first I’m delighted to welcome author Jan Brigden to Being Anne talking about reversing the ‘famous footballer’ stereotype – bad boy or grafter?
I debated long and hard about whether or not to make my lead male character in As Weekends Go a footballer. After all, it is one of those professions that sometimes conjures up an unsavoury image of someone who is flash, fast and far too rich for their own good (fully warranted in some cases too!)
Could Alex Heath my fictional player challenge that negative stereotype and endear himself to the reader in the process? Hmmm … I was hopeful.
I knew it would be a risk and that seeing the words ‘famous footballer’ on the blurb could discourage some readers from taking a chance on my book, leave them forming an instant opinion based on what we see and hear in the press, have them assume they were going to read about a champagne-swilling, out-until-all-hours, arrogant womaniser.
Don’t get me wrong, my character enjoys his wealth – the material things and freedom it can bring, etc, – but he also values his livelihood and knows that excess in any form can threaten it, impacting on the other areas of his life that he holds dear in the meantime.
I’ve known a couple of players over the years, both of whom, despite their wealth and lifestyle, were as down to earth as they come, and silently appalled by the actions of those footballers who gave the sport they loved and felt honoured to be associated with professionally, a bad name. Yes, both men earned silly money (something they both freely admitted to me, and because of their honesty about this, also left me thinking, “Well, if I’m truthful, I wouldn’t turn down a salary like that, if offered, either!”) These men had only the following goals in mind – to work hard for that money, to push themselves, look after themselves and their families and hopefully gain success and trophies on the pitch.
I remember thinking how awful it must be to be lumped in with those ‘not so professional’ footballers who have us all groaning and snarling at their pictures with contempt …
Obviously we all form opinions and judge people without having met them – I’ve been as guilty of this in my life as the next person – it’s human nature, and certainly not always a bad thing, but portraying the other side of the stereotype really made me look at things from a different perspective. I suppose as writers that’s what we’re trying to achieve – multi-dimensional characters; in Alex’s case, his private versus public persona, the pitfalls and pressures verses the benefits and perks of his job, how he views his fellow professionals, the grafters versus the bad boys, how being in the spotlight affects him, his relationships, his lifestyle.
Nobody would expect the stereotype to be entirely banished as myth, as in some cases it’s true. I also think some people almost wear it as a badge of honour. But I’ve learned, with any profession, be it footballers, musicians, actors, bankers, politicians, models, writers (I could hardly leave out that last one out, could I? It’d be two-faced!) there will always be exceptions to the rule.
Thanks Jan! Let’s share that review again, shall we?
Those lovely people at Choc Lit and their reading panel do have a bit of a talent for spotting something special that their readers will enjoy, and they’ve done it again with this lovely book. The story’s partly the stuff of every girl’s fantasies (and several rather older women’s too…!) – meeting a famous footballer on a weekend break, living the high life for a while, and finding that he’s not only gorgeous but also a really, really nice guy. But it’s not just the stuff of fantasy – Rebecca’s marriage is on the rocks, her plans for a family forgotten, while her husband Greg relentlessly pursues his career (and a few other things he really shouldn’t be pursuing).
I really liked the way Rebecca’s friendship with Abi was drawn – Abi’s quite a character, but also one of the most genuine and supportive friends anyone could wish for. I also liked the twists and turns of Abi’s own relationship with Nick, and the fallout from the stag do in Spain. Rebecca is a real well developed character – your heart aches for her, knowing what Greg is up to while she continues trying to discuss things with him. Jan’s very good at depicting friendship actually – I also thought Alex’s relationship with larger than life friend Kenny was really well handled. I do know some reviewers have felt that the portrayal of Greg left a little bit to be desired, but I don’t really agree – people do change, particularly when circumstances change and a couple don’t have anything in common any more. Thank goodness for Abi – but thank goodness for Alex Heath too.
This was a lovely story, really well told – just to be nitpicky, I did think the Hawksley Manor stay, particularly the night at the club, were maybe a little more drawn out than they could have been, but the scenes in the restaurant were extremely funny (what horrendous people!) and really well written. I really look forward to seeing what Jan does next. OK, I do look forward to getting to know Alex better too – but this is a really good read from a first-time author well worth watching.
As Weekends Go is available to purchase as an eBook and a paperback. For purchasing options, click here.
Jan lives in South East London with her husband and motley crew of cuddly toys. Jan’s written for pleasure from a young age; short stories for classmates, odes for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends, progressing to her first novel, the idea for which sprang from a script she composed as part of a creative writing course assignment via The Writers Bureau. Following much secret plotting, research and feigning of passion for the customer accounts she was supposed to be reconciling during the day job, the chance finally arose to put pen to paper.
After attending many author talks, literary events, and connecting with writers and readers on Facebook and Twitter, Jan learned of and subsequently joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. An avid reader, reviewer and all round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of online group blog The Romaniacs who last year self-published an anthology of short stories and flash fiction entitled ‘Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief’. Jan was the winner of Choc Lit’s 2014/15 Search for a Star competition and As Weekends Go is her debut novel.
Follow Jan on Twitter.