Guest blog by Taryn Bashford, author of The Harper Effect.
As a child I dreamed of being an Olympic Author when I grew up. And you’d be right to ask what that meant. Two things were important to me back then: books and running. When I wasn’t reading about Moonface or Anne of Green Gables, I was writing stories and training. My career choice was clear – I would compete in the Olympics and, during my downtime, write novels.
While I trained for the 400m track event, my brother won Nationals at Wimbledon and eventually turned professional. Back at home, aged 14, I couldn’t find many novels about girl athletes. So, I wrote one. Using my insight into the tennis world, I wanted to explore teens who go above and beyond the norm; turns out they may be talented in sport, but not so much in life. The first draft of The Harper Effect was born.
Eventually, I was forced to choose between my two aspirations. But the same lessons I learned from sport helped me find success with my book:
Teen me had trained hard to win Nationals. I pulled a muscle and came third. I nearly gave up. But I learned that if I kept at it, the result I wanted would come. If I hadn’t applied this to my writing, I wouldn’t have recovered from the rejections I initially received. I’d still be crying into my teacup.
Teen me had a date. I would wash my hair and finish my homework. Maybe I’d skip training. But I came to realise that then I couldn’t expect to win my next race. Now I’m at my writer’s desk by 8am every day. I turn down invitations for coffee during working hours. On weekends I write before the family wakes. I take the advice to ‘write every day’ to heart.
Teen me lined up for a race. The other girls looked stronger. Was I good enough? But you can never win with self-doubt in your head. I’d still be on draft thirty wondering if my writing was good enough if I didn’t believe in myself and the novel I was writing: sporty girls need to be represented in books, to give teens new role models to aspire to.
Teen me set training goals every month. Baby steps lead to big wins. Now I set writing goals: Draft three will be finished by… Submit my work to five agents by… Without the markers that goals provide, it can seem like you’re getting nowhere. I’d still have my head stuck in research books.
Sport still plays a big part in my life. While I run my characters come along to discuss their problems and to chat. It seems I grew up to be a Running Author, rather than an Olympic one, which is still pretty cool.
The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford is published by Pan Macmillan, available from 27 December.
The Harper Effect
Harper Hunter doesn't know how it came to this.
Her tennis dreams are collapsing; her coach says she doesn't have what it takes to make it in the world of professional tennis.
Her new doubles partner is moody, mysterious and angry at the world. Why, and what is he hiding?
Harper's in love with Jacob, her neighbour, but he is her sister Aria's boyfriend. Or, he was. Harper could never betray Aria with Jacob ... could she?
As her heart and dreams pull her in different directions...