Penalty Kicks by D.S. Dehel
Published by Changeling Press
Cover Art by Angela Knight
India Roberts can’t wait until her divorce is final, when she’ll be Ms. Jackson again. At forty, she’s waited long enough to pursue her goal of becoming a fashion designer.
What she doesn’t need is a new romance. But when soccer player Matt Bettony rescues her from a bad date and makes her night oh-so-much better, she discovers she’s ready for something else. Thirteen years her junior, he’s the perfect fit for a no-strings love affair that won’t interfere with her dream… until Matt gets other ideas.
Interview with D.S. Dehel
BOOKS+COFFEE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
DS DEHEL: Words were always an integral part of who I am. Always. I knew when I was very young that I wanted to be a writer, maybe 5. I still have a story I started when I was 7. It’s not as terrible as one would think. Even the title is a pun.
BOOKS+COFFEE: How long have you been writing, and how long did it take before your first book was published?
DS DEHEL: In terms of actively writing a book from start to finish, it’s almost six years. It took two years—and quite a few rejections–before I was published
BOOKS+COFFEE: Do you have a routine you follow when you’re working on a book? A certain time of day when you write, or a snack you keep nearby?
DS DEHEL: Not really, I know I should have a routine, but they just end up frustrating me. Usually, I write when the idea has reached a point where it has to come out. Trying before that is fruitless, and it’s crap. I’ve learned that if I am patient with myself, I can write a lot in a short amount of time that is actually useable. In some ways when the story is flowing, I get like Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, everything goes to hell around me until it’s done, and I will write for hours and hours. I just have to wait for story to develop enough to reach that point.
BOOKS+COFFEE: Did anyone give you writing advice when you were first getting started? Do you think it helped?
DS DEHEL: Yes. When I was in college, I took a writing class with an award winning author. He was lovely and personable, and most importantly, he told me I had potential, but he also told me that I had to write when I was young, or it would never happen. Finances and life in general wouldn’t allow me to be a writer of any sort at the time. For some, it might have been dispiriting, but I tucked away the knowledge that someone, somewhere thought I was good enough. When I had the headspace and money to allow me to consider being a writer, I set out to prove him wrong. Those two facts got me through some tough times. Like so much advice given to writers, his advice to pursue my dream then or lose it, was well-intentioned, but incorrect. When my first book was published, I reached out to him, and he told me he was proud.
BOOKS+COFFEE: What is the scariest thing you face as a writer? How do you handle it?
DS DEHEL: Before becoming a writer, I taught high school for over 25 years, because of that, very little about any job scares me. But if I had to point to one thought that troubles me from time to time, it’s that I might run out of ideas. Then I remember I taught high school for 25 years, and mining that alone would provide me enough characters and plot lines for the rest of my life.
BOOKS+COFFEE: Is there a book, movie, or song that inspires you when you’re working?
DS DEHEL: For me, it would be music before the others, but no, there isn’t one particular song that inspires me. Instead, I make a Spotify playlist and a Pinterest board for each work. Those I turn to time and again to keep me going. For example, the music that’s the soundtrack for the current idea marinating in my brain is Dua Lipa’s “Physical” and Todrick Hall’s “Hair, Nails, Hips, Heels.” It may be only those two, or I may add more. It’s hard to tell.
BOOKS+COFFEE: As a writer, I’m sure you also love reading. Do you have a favorite book and what do you love about it?
DS DEHEL: Asking me to choose a favorite book is like asking which of my children is my favorite. I can’t do it. Having said that, there are a few I revisit time and again. Chief among these is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen. First of all, this book rocked my world as a teen, changing the way I thought about “comic books.” It’s also brilliantly written and illustrated. There is such a complex, beautifully constructed plot, so much nuance, and multi-layered characters. Each time I read, I see something different, appreciate something new. Though it may seem odd for a romance writer to point to a graphic novel, I think it is easier for me to analyze technique because it is a different genre. I’m not so caught up in comparing myself to the writer.
BOOKS+COFFEE: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when following your dreams?
DS DEHEL: For most dreams, there’s not a due date. Sure, you might be too old to be a Prima Ballerina for the New York Ballet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be on stage and performing as long as you like.
Now, let’s talk a little about your current book…
BOOKS+COFFEE: What’s the title of your current release and is it part of a series?
DS DEHEL: My upcoming release is called Penalty Kicks. It’s part of a two-book series with the over-arching title of Game of Two Halves. The funny part is, a reader has already asked me why I’m not planning a story for each of the players on the team.
BOOKS+COFFEE: Who published Penalty Kicks?
DS DEHEL: It’s my first book with Changeling Press, and I cannot gush enough about how wonderful the process had been and how excited I am.
BOOKS+COFFEE: Your cover looks amazing. Do you know who the artist is?
DS DEHEL: Yes, Angela Knight made my gorgeous cover.
BOOKS+COFFEE: Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this story?
DS DEHEL: My husband loves soccer. He plays two to three times a week, and we watch MLS, the Premier League and the big championships. It came from doing this for the past 26 years. And let’s face it, there are lots of cute players to inspire me.
BOOKS+COFFEE: If there’s one thing a reader will take away from this story, what do you hope it is?
DS DEHEL: The main character, India, put off her dreams for her husband’s career, until she woke up one day and decided she’d had enough. It was time to live for herself, so the book is about chasing those dreams and finding true love…even if that love is seventeen years her junior.
BOOKS+COFFEE: Any funny stories you can share about writing this book, or something that sparked the idea for it?
DS DEHEL: Usually, I keep my husband far away from what I am writing, but for this, I frequently needed his advice and feedback for the soccer related sections. I know a lot about soccer, but not enough. I think he had a lot of fun helping me create the fictional team Matt plays for—The Spirit. As for an idea spark, it was probably sitting in the stadium watching my umpteenth soccer game.
About the Author
D. S. Dehel is a lover of literature, good food, and the Oxford comma. When she is not immersed in a book, she is mom to her kids and spoiling her rather pampered feline, Mr. Darcy or her equally pampered puppy, Jameson, and her slightly psychotic Australian Shepherd, Piper. Having finally retire, she spends her days dreaming up new plotlines. She adores literary allusions, writing sex scenes, and British men. Actually, make that hot men in general. Her devoted husband is still convinced she writes children’s books. Please don’t enlighten him.