Congrats to gertie92, Mary, Marion, Judeinthestars!
I am not a particularly sporty person. That is, I’m not very good at playing sport. A lot of it is, I think, that I’m the tall (a squidge under six foot) ungainly, clumsy sort, uncoordinated with poor spatial awareness. My friends know to give me red wine in a tumbler rather an elegant long-stemmed glass to save their furniture and carpets from the inevitable. If there’s a wall to walk into, it will hit me on the nose. If there’s a loose curtain to catch, it’ll end up wrapped around me like a toga.
In my school days, the agony of being picked last for the netball team was often mine, simply because I didn’t have the speed or quick reactions that make a good netballer. By the time I’d shifted direction, a bit like a tower block swaying in an earthquake, the opposing player would have dodged around me and the ball would be at the other end of the court.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy sports though. I loved netball (running around and jumping) and hockey (running around and trying not to take anyone down with the stick) even though I was useless at them. Most of my fun and fitness activities have been the individual kind: running, step aerobics, bush walking.
There’s one exception though: tennis.
I’ve been playing tennis since I was eight. I love it. Sprinting, hitting things hard, leaping. Yup, I can do those. Sure, there’s also frequent and fast changes of direction and a lot of hand-eye coordination (uh, not so good, but never mind). Being tall meant I early on developed a good serve and that serve has led to my only sporting glory ever: runner-up in the under-10 girls at my local lawn tennis club. I’m very sure I will never reach those dizzy heights ever again.
Tennis is also the only sport I’ll watch with any consistency. When Wimbledon or the Australian Open is on the TV, I’m glued to the screen. The French Open with all that tricky clay court tennis? My favourite surface. And the US Open with the pumped atmosphere and fast hard courts? Fantastic.
Tennis ticks all of my boxes: sporty athletic women, the excitement of the lifestyle on and off the court, travel, beautiful bodies in motion. You can keep your actors and celebrities; all of my crushes are tennis players.
My books take place in settings that I know: Australia, the outback, with characters who are medical, or legal, or involved with horses. So the obvious thing for me if I continued to write what I know was to set a book in the world of women’s tennis.
My latest book, Code of Conduct, is a romance between a professional player and a tennis official. Viva Jones is battling injury and trying to remain a force in the women’s game, still chasing her grand slam dream of a second title to add to her US Open win. Gabriela Mendaro is a high-level silver badge umpire, determined to reach the pinnacle of her career—gold badge umpire. While Viva’s career may be on the wane, she’s not ready to walk away yet. And Gabriela’s career is ready for the final step, but to achieve this she needs discipline and must abide by the rules. One part of the officials’ code of conduct states that officials must not form any relationships with players, even friendly ones.
Oooh. Big Problem.
The Australian Open, the highlight of the Aussie tennis calendar, features a series of interviews with the tennis stars and high-flyers of the tournament. I happened across an interview with real-life gold badge umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore. In her interview, she mentioned the non-fraternization rules between officials and players. From that, my character Gabriela, the ice-cool official, totally focussed on her career was born.
The character of Viva, the top tennis player battling to remain at the top of the game? Turn to the tennis channel and watch any women’s match. There’s a piece of Viva in any of the determined (and let’s face it, damn sexy) women you’ll see.
Code of Conduct is available now from Ylva Publishing, Amazon and all the usual outlets.
Comment on this post for a chance to win an ebook copy. Three other commenters can also win a pair of Code of Conduct fridge magnets (I’ll post anywhere), so you can stare at Viva’s legs as you ponder your unpaid bills.
Cheyenne Blue has been hanging around the lesbian erotica world since 1999 writing short lesbian erotica which has appeared in over 90 anthologies. Her stories got longer and longer and more and more romantic, so she went with the flow and switched to writing romance novels. You’ll find her books published by Ylva Publishing—the latest being a tennis romance Code of Conduct. She loves writing big-hearted romance often set in rural Australia because that’s where she lives. She has a small house on a hill with a big deck and bigger view—perfect for morning coffee, evening wine, and anytime writing. Check her out at www.cheyenneblue.com on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.