Today we welcome Catherine Lane. We published her outstanding lesbian romance The Set Piece last week, just in time for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Catherine, how would you describe The Set Piece? What is it about?
A tweet from Ylva said it better than I ever could: Romance, sports, and a dash of mystery. Take two women who are meant for each other but can’t see it, throw in some soccer and a little bit of blackmail, and you have The Set Piece.
What inspired you to write a novel set in the world of soccer?
My wife and I are huge soccer fans, and we always look forward to the World Cup. Last summer while we were watching the men’s tournament, we kept remarking on how handsome the players were. You know, how they constantly take off their shirts at the end of a game? (I wish the women would adopt this tradition…) But anyway, I said to my wife, to be funny, I wonder how many of the other players were enjoying the view as well. It was just an offhand comment, but it got me thinking about how hard it would be to be gay on the international soccer stage. What would a superstar have to do to hide who he really was? Diego, the Major League Soccer star, started to form in my mind as a character first. Everyone else came afterwards.
How did you come up with the title for the book?
Everyone, coaches, sportscasters, even players, will preach how important a set piece is to the game. When I played, I remember spending entire practices rehearsing the strategy and moves of a set play until everyone on the field knew her role, and we had eliminated all chance of errors come game time. Or so we hoped. Set pieces have a way of going horribly wrong. All a ball has to do is bounce off a goal post or a defender, and suddenly the game is in unchartered territory. This idea became the metaphor for Amy’s journey through the story. When she signs up to be Diego’s beard, she intends to follow the prescribed plan to the letter. That is, until she meets Casey. Now her goal is to get closer to the one person who will put the set piece in jeopardy. For me this is where the story gets really interesting.
Why do you think your main characters, Amy and Casey, work as a couple?
Basically, they are both people I would like to hang out with. Amy’s gutsy and says what’s on her mind, while Casey’s got that tough exterior which hides all sorts of softness inside. I also like the fact that Amy’s job as Diego’s fake fiancée blinds her to truth about who Casey really is. And because Amy’s POV drives the story, we, the reader, get to find out the truth as Amy does. I mean, it’s not like we don’t know Amy and Casey are eventually going to get together; this is a lesfic romance after all, but it’s the how and the why of their getting together that makes them a fun couple.
And then there is Footgolf. Any relationship which starts with a rousing game of Footgolf has got to be successful, right?
What was the hardest thing about writing The Set Piece?
I started writing The Set Piece as a novella. My original plan was to set Amy up as Diego’s beard and illustrate how this new, magical job changes her life almost like a fairy tale. But as soon as I wrote the scene where Amy meets Casey, the one where Casey ends up in the pool and Amy can’t stop fantasizing about her, I realized that the story was less fairy tale and more traditional romance. I can laugh at the coincidence now, but basically my scripted plan was in total chaos. I put the story down for months, started a paranormal romance, and thought about how to recover. Finally, I realized that the heart of the story was Amy and Casey, not the fairy tale. When I came to grips with this recognition, I was back in business. Look for the fairy tale references, though; a few of them still survive.
What was your favorite part about writing The Set Piece?
Inserting my dog into the story. Dulce, Diego’s dog, is our dog Georgia from her black and white coloring to the adorable way she snuggles into us whenever we pick her up. The only thing that didn’t get into the story is how when we hug her, Georgia wraps her paws around us to hug us back. I just told her that she made it into my interview. She licked my foot.
What was it like to have your first book published?
I’m not sure if there are enough words: exhilarating, scary, flabbergasted, grateful… I’ve always had stories running around in my head. And I think they would have stayed there if my wife hadn’t encouraged me to start writing them down. Actually, it was more like a dare. She knows me; it’s hard for me to back down from a challenge.
What did you learn from writing this book?
I learned that it takes a village to actually write a book—from beta readers to all sorts of editors and tech people. I naively had this idea that I would sit at my computer, a pencil in my hair, Georgia at my feet, and type late into the night driven by my muse. Okay, that did happen, maybe once, but that was just the beginning. Astrid, Ylva’s publisher, said somewhere that once your manuscript is accepted by a publishing house that’s when the real work occurs. Boy, was she right. Mostly, I learned it really helps to have a publisher and editor who are both behind you and in front of you every step of the way.
Are you working on a new novel? What can your readers expect next from you?
I have an erotic story, “Dinner and A Show,” coming out in Don’t Be Shy, Volume Two later this summer. It’s based on a crazy dynamic I personally witnessed at a dinner party—a much tamer version, of course; my life’s sadly not that exciting—but it was a blast to put a sexy spin on that evening.
Up next, I’m eager to get back to the paranormal romance I started when I was stuck with The Set Piece. Claire, the best Fairy Godmother in the business, is pitted against Tamiel, a newbie Guardian Angel, when they are both mistakenly assigned the same case. It’s a little more irreverent than The Set Piece. I can’t wait to share it with you!
Please write any time. I would absolutely love to hear from you!
Thank you for answering our questions.