I didn't want to write a story about a girl on a soccer team, especially not in a tight market that demanded big, edgy ideas. But I desperately wanted to understand my athletic daughter.
I had been watching my daughter and husband bond over their shared soccer experience, and I knew I had to find a way to connect too. I had no credibility. Apparently, forty-two minutes on the elliptical machine while watching the Amazing Race isn't a sport.
I did what I usually do when I need to learn something, I bought some books. I read memoirs that helped me get into the head of intense athletes, mostly football players who kept competing no matter what it did to their bodies or brains.
I developed a range of decidedly sporty conversation topics. (And maybe I talked about concussions too much.)
In the midst of my sporty reading, I remembered a joke made by a friend who had cycled in the Olympics - forget doping, he said, let them add an extra heart, let them explode if they want.
I got the idea for what has come to be described as my sci-fi sports novel Sponsored (coming soon-ish from ChiTeen).
The story doesn't resemble my life in any way, but the research allowed me to understand the way my daughter drives herself to perform physically, and maybe in other ways too. I know that I supported her better through her competitive high school soccer years, and now during the transition to informal college athletics.
My favorite thing about writing fiction comes from that combination of real life experience, real emotion, stuff learned in books, and imagination - how it all mixes together to create something that never existed before.