Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Rainbow Player by David Kerby-Kendall! Today it is stopping by my blog.
For today’s Blog Tour I got the usual suspects (author and book information), but also a fun guest post about football, writing, and more, and an excerpt to the book!
First up the guest post, followed by book/author information, and lastly the excerpt. Enjoy!
We hold our footballers in almost iconic status. In a way it’s understandable. Anyone who walks out in front of 50,000 fans every week and whose heroic running form appears on the back pages of all the newspapers is probably going to be held aloft as some superhero, eight feet tall and bathed in golden sunlight.
One of the reasons I wrote The Rainbow Player was to get at the human being behind the modern Greek god. I wanted our hero to be fallible, to have suffered in life, to be a lovely, warm, huggable person, prone to social faux pas and, even in his late twenties, still guided by his grandparents. This way, the reader can get to know Sammy, to laugh and cry with him and, consequently, to be able to empathise with him when his innate honesty is challenged by the fact that it is still such a massive taboo to be a gay footballer. How will the media react, his fellow players, the minority of fans who are homophobic thugs? How can you run out every week in front of 40,000 people taunting you? Will it end his career?
The book also parallels the fact that there are no openly gay men on Sammy’s estate. The same macho act prevails because people are terrified of standing out. Of course these same people are the first to sit in the shadows of anonymity and criticize anyone brave enough to be different.
The other reason for writing it was to raise awareness of the issue of homophobia in football and, hopefully, create a debate where the 90% of us fair-minded people can be, for once, louder than the 5% of mindless morons at the extremes of the spectrum, creating an environment where gay players feel able to be open about their sexuality.
As I didn’t want to put off the non-sports-loving reader, the novel is also very much a coming-of-age story that deals with every aspect of Sammy’s life.
The novel begins with Sammy at the age of 31 about to make the biggest decision of his life. We are then transported back to Sammy at the age of 15 (because 15 year-olds don’t analyse things to the point of a seizure, they just listen to their hearts) and we re-live his life with him; from his unsuccessful attempt to lose his virginity to Katie Turnpike at a bus-stop (‘Total disaster, bus came before I did’) to Sammy breaking the mould of his youthful peers by his love of books. And it is through this that he meets the two most important people in his life; Davey, his soulmate, and Old Thomas, the bookseller, who becomes a guiding light for him as his relationship with his father continues to erode. We meet Sammy’s new, more intellectual, friends at college; friends who aren’t afraid to hug and whose outlook on life broadens his own, and Gran and Gramps; Gran, a modern Mrs Malaprop and connoisseur of footballer’s bottoms, who bakes a gargantuan cake for his team every week and thinks nothing of pulling Sammy’s pants down, even when he’s 30, and administering TCP to his bruises (‘Trendy pants, our Sammy. Look, Herbert, Kevin Kleins’). And, of course, we follow his football career, from junior level to a place on football’s Hall of Fame.
Apart from one successful love affair (with Julie, an Australian lawyer), Sammy’s relationships with his few girlfriends are overwhelmingly overshadowed by his love for the people close to him, and it is when he has truly found himself that he realises love has no labels, and he finally falls in love with a man.
Speaking of ‘labels’, I wanted the book to show that we don’t need them. All they do is reinforce differences and become an excuse for violence and deliberate misunderstanding.
I began writing in 2007 whilst on a break from acting. I wrote a play called Save Your Kisses For Me which actually included The Brotherhood Of Man’s Eurovision-winning song (the first record I ever bought. I was young and had questionable musical taste….as opposed to now when I’m older and have appalling musical taste). From it’s small-scale success I became the In-House writer for Heartbreak Productions and have been lucky enough to have adapted some marvelous novels for the stage, including three of David Walliam’s children’s books. I’ve also had my own independent plays produced and will be returning to the acting profession later this year in my next play, 20:40, which concerns depression.
When I was adapting my first novel, I found myself in a Soho café on a break between rent-paying jobs. Normally I have great difficulty concentrating on anything if there’s extraneous background noise. However, on this occasion, I started writing and didn’t stop for four hours, by which time my mocha was congealed and I was half an hour late for pointing a spotlight at the stage of Phantom Of the Opera. Since that day, I do nearly all my writing in cafes. I love the energy and atmosphere; like-minded people writing plays, books, composing songs, creating new business ideas, forming new friendships. It seeps into your pores and wraps you in this all-encompassing creative blanket. I love the fact that café society has been going on for centuries. You can just SEE Picasso and Modigliani discussing surrealism and Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac pushing the boundaries of acceptability in literature.
I write in longhand with a fountain pen. I know that sounds like I’m about to disappear up my own bottom but I genuinely can’t write with a biro, and get absolutely no inspiration from staring at a laptop screen. I re-read the last few pages to get myself back into the work again (this takes about ten minutes) and then I shift my mind a degree to the left of normality. If I’m writing dialogue, then I’ll read everything back in my head and act out each character. Being an actor, if it doesn’t sound natural, I will know straight away.
I love writing. No, ‘love’ doesn’t cover it; I adore writing.
What I liked about writing my first book (more so than the plays) was creating this amazing new world where anything could happen. I knew how the story started and I’d planned it’s arc and the major turning points and characters, and I knew how I wanted it to end. But often my mind would veer off on its usual tangential journey from reality and into my head would come some things that I’d never considered and that added further layers to the story. For instance, Davey didn’t exist in the first plans; then he appeared, initially, as another boy who stood up for Sammy when he was being picked on by Nibbsy, the vicious boy’s club trainer. As I was writing this line, I thought ‘what a great idea it would be to have another teenage boy who was interested in books’ and, within a few pages, the boys had begun a deep friendship and Davey had become one of the three most important characters in the book.
I remember siting in Café Nero in Soho, about three quarters of the way through the book, thinking, ‘Wow, I wonder how this is going to end? Oh, that’s right, it’s up to me, isn’t it!’.
I loved writing The Rainbow Player. To let the imagination run free, become a seven year-old and forget the ludicrous boundaries that us adults inflict on ourselves, gives you carte blanche for your mind to go wherever you want it to (or wherever it wants to on its own). But, to create a world that could, in some small way, help eradicate the stigma of being a gay footballer and to help players to be able to be open about their sexuality, would be an achievement of which I would be hugely proud.
England footballer, Sammy Hatchington, has never considered sexuality before. As a teenager, Sammy broke the mould of his youthful peers with his desire to open the door to life’s endless possibilities. He escaped a deprived estate and, with the help of Old Thomas, his surrogate father, Davey, his soul-mate, and Gran, the connoisseur of footballer’s bottoms, launched himself on a path toward his personal and professional goals. Now, several years later, he must make a decision that could destroy everything he has fought for, and create a furious media frenzy
David Kerby-Kendall’s joyous and witty novel challenges preconceptions about professional sportsmen and love, and is also a delightful and moving story of a young man’s journey to self-knowledge.
Buy this book here: Amazon
About the author:
Find him here:
Originally from Leicester, David Kerby-Kendall now lives in Muswell Hill, North London. He is an actor who began writing in 2007. From the success of his first play, Save Your Kisses For Me, he became the in-house writer for Heartbreak Productions, writing and adapting plays for national tours, including three David Walliam’s novels (Mr Stink, Ratburger and Billionaire Boy) as well as several other novels: Pride And Prejudice, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan and Dracula. His second play, The Moon Is Halfway To Heaven, was produced at Jermyn Street Theatre, London. He has two new plays in the pipeline: 20:40 which deals with depression and Gay Pride And No Prejudice, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s famous novel.
Sammy has begun a relationship with Alex, a lawyer. This is his first relationship with a man and he is trying to analyse why this has happened and how he feels.Of course, I’d always been tactile with my close male friends. Seb, New Tommy; Davey especially. And this was evident, too, in my footballing life. In the changing rooms, on the playing field, within the bubble of our own environment, there was no embarrassment at the touch of physicality. It was a weird mixture of masculinity and the innocence of boys at play. If Freud had still been around, he would, no doubt, have refereed the game; black shorts and shirt, blowing the whistle at every point where the aggression of physical contact, the feigned machismo of the play-fight, the touch of crotch on crotch at the scoring of a goal, could be construed as a muslin-veiled substitute for sex.
I don’t know.
If you constantly analyse life, there’s no time left to live it.
Prisoners use each other. Soldiers at war use each other. Perhaps because there are no women. Perhaps because there is some comfort in it, some escape from their situation. And many of them fall in love with each other. Maybe then, the brute physicality of the sexual act brings down the masculine barriers, the pre-set extents of male behaviour and allows real feelings to surface. Perhaps sometimes people fall in love and then have sex. Perhaps, at other times, people need to have sex to fall in love.
I don’t know.
All I know is that, when I awoke the next morning, Alex’s breathing falling rhythmically on my back, I felt no embarrassment, no shame, no downgrading of my manhood. I felt happy, I felt normal. As sunlight engulfed his bedroom, I rolled onto my side and smiled at somebody I loved.
That day he drove us to the Lake District. We paddled in ice-cold brooks, yelping at the freezing water; we re-enacted Chariots of Fire, running in slow motion down remote roads, singing the theme tune and being grinned at by passing families in their cars; we raced each other to the top of impossibly steep hillsides, falling over grass-hidden rocks, stumbling into rabbit warrens, reaching the pinnacle together, gasping for breath and then me holding on to Alex’s arm as, in the midst of this frenzied visitation of our early years, I temporarily forgot my fear of heights.
Then we stopped. And I looked at this man, this boy, this person whom I had decided so quickly, so irrationally, so decisively to love; looked at that blond fringe mirroring my own darker version, those perfect blue eyes shining forth the breeding of his family; an ocular coat of arms of centuries of ‘have’ opposite my brown almond eyes still trying to find their way in the grand scheme of things. I leant across and kissed those lips; the lips of a woman, of a man; just lips. I think the only difference I felt, was consciously aware of, was that I was not, as with a girl, necessarily the stronger.
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