Rachel Spangler

Hello all! This week, I am happy to welcome Rachel Spangler to my site. I have been Facebook friends with Rachel for many years, ever since I began writing. She sent me her blog, and I discovered that we have something in common besides writing, a love of the sport of curling. Like Rachel, I discovered this sport through the Olympics, probably about the same time she discovered it. That’s about where the similarities end though. She is much younger than I am and, unlike me who continues to watch the sport on television, she did something about her interest…she joined a curling team. Oh yes, and she wrote a book about her sport. Here’s Rachel to tell you about both. Enjoy!

                                                                       AJ Adaire

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Hi Friends,

First of all, I want to thank AJ Adaire for inviting me to share this awesome space with everyone today.  I absolutely love this supportive community. It’s one of my favorite things about being a lesfic author.  Without all of you fellow readers and writers, there’s no way I would have finished 16 novels, so thank you!

And speaking of novel number 16, it’s called Fire & Ice, and it’s about a loveably intense professional curler named Callie Mulligan, and Max Laurens, the down-and-out sports reporter who’s reluctantly agreed to cover her.

Fire & Ice debuted at Women’s Week in Provincetown, where I got to do some fun events like author chats, readings, and a book-launch mixer. Now that I’m back home and Fire & Ice is available wherever great books are sold, I’m reflecting on all those early interactions with readers, and the question I’m getting most is “Why curling?”

For the answer to that question, I have to go back to my college days. I first saw curling on TV during the Turino, Italy Olympics, and I have to admit to being more than a little perplexed. The whole thing looked a little silly to me, but I couldn’t quite look away. There was something hypnotic about the way the rocks and the players moved across the ice.  Something about the game seemed to bend the laws of physics. That was enough to keep me watching through to the gold-medal match.

And then I didn’t hear anything else about the sport for another four years. This cycle, a sort of Olympic calendar boom and bust, continued for several more Olympic years, until one day a friend of a friend mentioned that there was a curling club in Niagara Falls. A little bit of investigating, and soon a friend and I we’re signed up for a learn-to-curl workshop. After a full day spent slipping, sliding, and altogether making a fool of myself, and it became clear that there was a lot more to curling than I had ever realized. I was hooked!

And lucky for me, my timing was spot-on because the next year the Buffalo Curling Club opened.  My friend Dustin joined me along with my wife and our friend Ann. Together we formed The Lusty Shams (Usually curling teams have punny names like Rocking the Sheets, or Sweeping with the Enemy.  We were new to the game and not sure whether we wanted our name to be sexy or a reference to our ineptitude, so we struck a middle ground).  As our name implied, we were not very good, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves. We played outdoors on the roughest, most awkward sheet of ice you can imagine, but we didn’t really know any better. As far as we were concerned, we were real curlers, and we took to the game with a zeal of the converted.

The Shams have grown with our club. Our team has added new members over time, including my son, Jackson, who joined us last year. The Buffalo Curling Club raised enough money to move to dedicated ice inside an old warehouse, and the place is packed with leagues every night, each one filled with the nicest, most welcoming, most enthusiastic people you will ever meet.

 Remember when I said my favorite part of being an author was the community? The same is true for curling.  I won’t say I’ve never met a rude curler, but they are a rarity.  Compared to other sports where egos get in the way, curlers thrive on friendliness.  There are elaborate rituals around good sportsmanship, many surrounding drinks or food, and they are socially enforced more stringently than the minor rules of the sport.  I suspect that since so few people play, or even understand curling, those of us who do have an instant comradery with each other. We play a game the world cares about only during the winter Olympics.  We’re up against enough with the outside world that we’re very protective of those people who hang with us all year, every year. I also suspect that since no one is getting rich playing this game, we all understand that we rise and fall with one another, not against one another.

Those are the things I really wanted to showcase in Fire & Ice.  They are also some of the characteristics that lend themselves to a contemporary traditional romance.  When Max arrives on the scene at the opening of the book, she is broken, scared, and angry.  She’s lived in a cutthroat world where human lives come second to the major sports industries, so what better way to show her another view of life than through the ideas of a curler?  Callie Mulligan is as kind and passionate as every curler I’ve ever known. She is every bit as dedicated to her craft as any other professional-grade athlete in a more popular sport, but like my curling friends, she’s used to getting attention for only two weeks every four years. On so many levels, these women couldn’t be more different.  Max is bitter; Callie is eternally hopeful.  Max is beat down; Callie had endless drive.  Max is used to the high life; Callie is used to having to fight for crumbs.  The two of them would be total opposites-attract-cliché if not for the fact that they are both absolutely obsessed with success.

It’s a real powder keg of a situation, filled with highly driven women, a significant dose of physical attraction, high career and higher emotional stakes, all with the backdrop of a sport I love and an overarching connection to the type of societal challenges facing women athletes everywhere. It’s probably not the kind of drama you expect from the slow-paced and slippery sport of curling, but that’s what made it so much fun for me to write.  Well, that and I got to write some super-fun sexy scenes, but if you want to learn more about that, you’re going to have to read Fire & Ice.


For more information you can visit Rachel online at www.rachelspangler.com or on social media via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (
AuthorRachelSpangler).

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© JEN 2014