Breakaway (Off the Pitch, Book 1)
By Charlie Novak
Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance, Second Chance Romance
Release Date: 07.23.19
Cover Designer: Natasha Snow/http://natashasnow.com/
When your life revolves around a single goal, is there room for love?
Christian King is a rising star in English football. He’s talented, devoted, and on the road to glory. He’s following the path that’s been laid out for him since he was four, and he has no plans to deviate from it. Christian’s life revolves around a single goal—to be the best… until he runs into his first love ad former best friend, David.
David Cade is just trying to survive the final year of his PhD intact, while battling long hours, unmotivated students, and the idea that academia might not be for him. But a chance encounter with his first love’s twin sister changes everything, and suddenly David is faced with the realisation that he can’t leave the past behind.
When David and Christian are drawn back together, sparks fly. Soon, Christian is forced to confront his deepest insecurities. Can they break away from their fears for a second chance at true love?
Breakaway is a 79,000-word contemporary gay romance featuring light angst, glittery bath bombs, a ginger-haired roommate/pet, shared Star Wars love, and a meddling twin sister.
Author Spotlight with Charlie
Books: What’s your favorite book, a book that’s greatly impacted you or your first LGBTQ read?
This is a really difficult question because I have so many favorites! One that I’ll always recommend is Sabriel by Garth Nix – it’s a fabulous YA fantasy and it’s one of my go-to comfort reads.
I actually came to LGBT fiction through fanfiction, and that was how I discovered m/m romance, but the first actual m/m novel I read was Lily Morton’s Rule Breaker. It’s one of my all-time favorites and completely changed my life.
Tattoos: Do you have any tattoos?
I don’t have any tattoos… yet! I desperately want a couple so that’s what I’m saving for right now. I want a little dinosaur on my wrist and two large Sailor Moon-style bows on the backs of my thighs, and that’s just to start.
Tea: Tea, coffee, soda, alcohol? What’s your drink?
I drink A LOT of Pepsi Max Cherry – probably too much to be honest, but it’s just so good! I’ll occasionally drink coffee but I have so much sugar/caramel/chocolate in it that it’s not good for me to drink every day. I am a terrible British person because I don’t drink tea very much at all.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Charlie, I’m a bisexual m/m romance author from the midlands of England. I write sweet and sexy romance stories with a sprinkling of angst, a dollop of fluff and plenty of deliciousness. When I’m not writing I love baking, pole dancing, ice cream and reading too much fanfiction. I also think everyone should have a favorite dinosaur!
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
That’s a tricky one – probably that I write romance novels! Also that I do pole dancing – it’s something I took up last year for fun and honestly it’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s so empowering but also horribly painful – I get so many bruises in weird places!
How do you relax?
I take very, very long baths with good books.
Do you have a favorite quote (either from your own books or ones you’ve read or person past or present)?
There are so many good options for this, especially from other authors and people in general! From Breakaway, I think one of my favorites is “Pretty much declaring your love for someone wasn’t something you could really laugh off as a joke. I was fucked.”
Who inspires you?
So many people! There are some amazing people and authors out there and I’m always blown away by them – I’m always learning. I get a lot of inspiration from everyday life too, and my pole dancing has given me so many plot bunnies…
How long have you been writing and what made you fall in love with writing?
I can’t remember the first time I wrote a story, but I’ve been doing it for a long time. I do remember writing pony stories as a child though – I always loved reading and making up my own stories and it just became part of who I was. In secondary school, my friends introduced me to fanfic and we were always creating our own universes and characters to interact with characters from anime/manga – I never really stopped after that.
What’s your favorite part of writing?
I think it’s watching my stories and characters come to life before my eyes – they never cease to surprise me. Also, I get to make cool, fun, sexy things up and share them with people and we all get to enjoy it together. I just love the way that stories bring people together and being a part of that is mind-boggling!
Why did you choose to write LGBTQ+ romance? Why not another genre?
I just felt very drawn to the genre and like there was a lot of room to tell amazing stories and explore different tropes that I loved. My fanfic/fandom life introduced me to writing m/m couples, sinking its claws into me and refusing to let go, and this just seemed like a natural progression.
What sort of reception do you get when you told your family and friends about the genre and stories you write? (I ask this question to help show stories of hope and support and that, fellow people in the LGBTQ community can relate to)
My friends have all been ridiculously supportive and most of them are members of the LGBTQ community themselves. One of my best friends, Toby Wise – writer of super fun MPreg m/m romance – encouraged me to keep going even when I felt like giving up and is always there to bounce ideas around, squeal/facepalm over characters and celebrate with me!
My husband is very supportive and answered all my questions about football, even when I probably could have just Googled the answer, and my sister wasn’t particularly surprised when I told her – I think she’s just worried I’m going to use her dating disasters as inspiration (which is definitely going to happen).
What’s your favorite part about the LGBTQ+ communities?
I think it’s how supportive it can be – I won’t deny that the LGBTQ community has problems, but I love how we all rally round and support each other when it matters. Also, how we’re determined to make things better – we won’t stop fighting for the rights of others and we refuse to back down and go away!
Where did your inspiration come from for your debut novel Breakaway? Why Sports romance?
My husband is a massive football fan, so I’ve kind of fallen into being a supporter too, and it’s always surprised me that there are very few openly LGBTQ players in men’s football. Football can be a fabulous game and create great communities, and a lot of UK clubs have LGBTQ fan associations, but there are currently no openly LGBTQ players in the English Premier League.
I wanted to explore that a little more and why somebody might be afraid to come out – Christian himself is under a lot of pressure to be the best and he’s also afraid that his football career will end if he comes out. He’s also worried about how the media and fans will react, and how it would put him under an intense spotlight. It’s a complex issue, and this is only one way to frame the conversation, but I did want to be able to give it a happy ending and give Christian the love he deserves.
Describe a scene in Breakaway that has made you laugh or cry or was challenging to write?
David has a roommate named Kit and every time I wrote the two of them together I always ended up giggling! Kit’s rather oblivious and eccentric and drives David mad, but in a very loving way, and they were so much fun to write! I think my favorite of their scenes was when Kit interrupted David and Christian having a heart-to-heart about how they felt/making out, joined them for their movie night and also stole a bag of Doritos that David was trying to eat.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I think it’s pretty sweet with some fluff and sexiness thrown in, and maybe a sprinkling of angst! In Breakaway I’ve used quite a lot of British lexicon too which was fun – I really got to embrace it for the first time, since a lot of the fanfiction I’ve written before has been set in the US.
What does your writing process look like?
Usually, it’s characters first, then plot. With Breakaway, Christian popped into my head first and the story unfolded from there – I had a particular scene in my head that I wanted to get to, it was just figuring out to get there. I did try and outline but it was quite vague so I did find myself having to make a lot of adjustments along the way as I tried to figure the story out – it definitely taught me a lot about constructing a narrative! For the book I’m working on right now, I sat down and forced myself to plot the whole thing – not in huge detail, but it had to include all the story beats and where each one would lead so I wouldn’t have to sit there and think ‘what the fuck happens next’!
Characters are a little easier for me, but they definitely don’t always write themselves in the way I’d imagined. And sometimes characters just walk in and introduce themselves without me planning for them to be there! Some of my favorites have appeared that way though.
When/where is your favorite time/place to write?
While I was working on Breakaway my writing time was all over the place while I tried to figure out what worked and how I could fit it in around my day job! At the moment I’ve settled into a routine where I write for about an hour before work and then maybe one or two evenings a week, plus a bit at weekends too – I’d love more writing time but sadly I don’t own a time turner. Writing in the morning really works for me because I don’t have any distractions and I’m not too tired either.
I also just acquired my first desk and proper writing space, which is much better than my sofa or bed for my productivity!
How do you go about naming your characters?
This is a really boring answer because most of them come to me fully named. I actually find surnames the hardest and making sure I don’t have too many characters with similar-sounding names. For surnames things like sports teams are really helpful because you get lots of people from across the world – I used the Premier League’s list of all players for the 2018/19 season quite a few times.
Will we be seeing these characters again any time soon?
Yes! I’ll probably write at least one short freebie with David and Christian in because I love them so much, and I’m currently working on book 2 in the series, which is currently called Extra Time. It’ll feature characters from Breakaway who need their own HEA, and David and Christian will definitely be making an appearance!
What genre/s do you enjoy reading in your free time?
I love reading m/m romance and fanfic, but I also love YA, fantasy and science-fiction too! I’ve also started reading a little bit of non-fiction too after I got some good recommendations from a friend.
What was the last book you read?
So I tend to read several books at once because I am that person, so I’m currently reading Want Me by Neve Wilder (I finished the short ‘Study Hard’ and had to read the novel the characters came from) and The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu, because it further feeds my Shadowhunters obsession.
What hobbies do you have outside of writing?
I do pole dancing, occasionally bake cakes and watch ice-hockey. Plus I’m currently obsessed with the TV show Shadowhunters and will forever adore Malec (Magnus Bane/Alec Lightwood). I also read a lot too.
What’s your spirit animal and/or Hogwarts house?
I’d like to think I’m a Slytherin but I’m definitely a Hufflepuff.
Thanks so much, for your time Charlie!
We love learning more about the authors and stories we love!!
We were still chatting after dinner, so we took our pudding into the living room, while Christian sang Monika’s praises and practically danced on the spot about being allowed pudding during the week. He’d always had a phenomenal sweet tooth, and I guessed that being a professional player was seriously at odds with his desire for sugar.
“Do you want to watch a film?” Christian asked as he flopped onto the sofa, carefully holding his bowl of lemon tart while searching for the remote.
“Sure,” I said, settling next to him and taking in the details of the room. It was light and airy, with large French doors at one end that I assumed opened up onto the garden, although it was too dark to see. The room was lit with the soft glow of lamps, which gave it a warm feel despite its size. The two sofas were scattered with a large selection of colourful cushions and throws, and in one corner a large television stood on a wooden stand. There was a unit beside it filled with Blu-rays and games as well as random knick-knacks and photos, and I was sure I could see a scattering of trophies in amongst them. I was dying to be nosey, but I also knew that wasn’t polite.
“What do you fancy? I’ve got Netflix and Amazon Prime,” Christian said. He gestured at the unit.
“Or there’s lots of Blu-rays up there. Take your pick.”
“I’ll have a look,” I answered, seizing my chance to satisfy my curiosity. I placed my bowl on the solid coffee table and meandered, over but before I could look at any of the photos, something on the floor behind the coffee table caught my eye.
It was a giant LEGO set, half assembled and spread across the carpet, the carefully numbered bags laid out neatly next to the large instruction manual.
“Holy fuck, is that the Millennium Falcon?” It was still more of a frame than anything else, but the shape was still recognisable.
“Yeah,” Christian said, his cheeks tinting again which made something funny pulse in my chest. “I, um, I like building them for fun. They’re good to take my mind off things, help me focus on being in the moment instead of dwelling on stuff. And I like Star Wars.”
“Do you have others?”
Christian nodded, chewing his lip and smiling. “I built the Death Star in the spring. That was fun, but it took hours. It’s upstairs so I don’t knock it over.”
My inner geek was dancing. I’d always loved Star Wars, and Christian and I had spent hours watching them as kids. My mum had even taken the two of us to see Revenge of the Sith for my birthday. As an adult I’d always longed for a couple of these sets, but they were so fucking expensive I’d never imagined getting one. I mean, this Millennium Falcon kit was worth nearly seven hundred quid.
“Can—can we build it now?” I asked, trying not to hold my breath.
“Really? I mean, you’d be interested in that?” There was a note of astonishment in Christian’s voice, while mine was barely controlled excitement.
“Of course! I’ve always wanted to get my hands on this.”
“Okay,” Christian said with a nod. “Let’s do it. Do you want to put a film on in the background? Maybe The Force Awakens? I haven’t seen it in a while.”
Ten minutes later we were sitting on the floor, the opening credits of the film playing in the background while Christian talked me through what he’d done so far. It was obvious that he took his building seriously, and I had to admit it was adorable. After my pep talk, he handed me a bag and showed me the instructions he wanted me to follow.
“You know, I’m sure there’s a terrible joke about inserting things somewhere in there,” I said, watching the way Christian’s face flushed as my words filtered through.
“Probably,” he added. “But I’ve never thought of it.”
“Me neither, I’m not good with words.”
“I find that hard to believe—you’re doing your PhD.”
“Nah, that’s all smoke and mirrors,” I joked.
“So, tell me more about your work,” Christian said, picking up his own pieces. “I don’t know much about academic stuff beyond what Lily’s told me.”
I smiled, opened my bag, and began talking. And I didn’t stop. Well, not until the early hours of the morning. By that time, we’d covered my degree, Lily, our mums, the Champions League, and the new Star Wars and Marvel films. The only thing we’d avoided discussing was our relationships, but I figured that was because neither of us had much to tell. Plus, talking about new partners with exes is one of those weird grey areas I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to avoid.
With every word, I could feel Christian slotting back into my life like he’d never left, but at the same time, this wasn’t the same Christian as before. It was a new version—older, smarter, and sweeter. He was driven and determined and had a desire to know as much as he could and actually seemed interested when I spent another hour talking about my work. He talked non-stop about how proud he was of Lily and how much he loved her, and he was so endearingly serious and charming that I couldn’t help but be bowled over by him. And he was so disarmingly handsome that every time he smiled or chewed on his perfect, pink lips, the hot ball of desire in my chest burnt hotter and hotter until it felt like there was a supernova inside me.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt this way about anyone.
It had probably been six years.
Charlie lives in England with her husband and a severe lack of dogs. She spends most of her days wrangling other people’s words in her day job and then trying to force her own onto the page in the evening.
She loves cute stories with a healthy dollop of angst, even more fluff, plenty of delicious sex, and happily ever afters – because the world needs more of them. Charlie also believes that love comes in all shapes and sizes.
Charlie has very little spare time, but what she does have she fills with cooking, pole-dancing, reading and ice-hockey. She also thinks that everyone should have at least one favourite dinosaur…
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