Showing posts with label Olympic Flames. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympic Flames. Show all posts

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Charlotte Dujardin - from stable girl to Olympic champion

When I wrote Olympic Flames, my London 2012 inspired novella, earlier this year, I had never heard of Charlotte Dujardin.

Charlotte is the prodigiously talented young dressage rider who along with team mates Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer scooped the Olympic gold medal this week. It's the first time Britain has won the team dressage event since it became an Olympic sport 100 years ago.

Today everyone’s keeping their fingers tightly crossed that Charlotte clinches a second Olympic gold by winning the individual dressage competition.

But one of the most inspiring things about 27 year old Charlotte is that she worked her way up from stable hand to Olympic champion in just five years. Unlike many other equestrian stars, she doesn’t come from a privileged background and her family had to scrimp and save to help her make it. A keen rider, she left her comprehensive school at 16 and at 20 began working as a stable girl for her now team mate Carl Hester. He spotted her talent immediately and let her ride his new horse Valegro – the horse that has taken her to Olympic glory.

It’s a fantastic story - and testament to Charlotte’s talent and determination. But I was extra-thrilled because when I came up with the idea for Olympic Flames I was adamant that my heroine wasn’t going to be someone born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Unlike Charlotte, the star of my book, Mimi Carter, is a show jumper, not a dressage rider. But like Charlotte, she doesn’t come from a wealthy background. Mimi left school at 16, got a job as a stable girl and eventually won a place in the British show jumping team.

As I became immersed in my story I wasn’t sure how feasible Mimi’s rise from humble stable girl to Olympic star would be.

Now, having seen Charlotte Dujardin in action at Greenwich Park this week, I know that it is really is. Go Charlotte!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Download Olympic Flames for free!

The crowd roared with delight as the chestnut stallion soared gracefully through the air. The fence was more than one and a half metres high, but the rider and horse made the jump look effortless. When the duo touched the ground on the other side, there was a swell of applause from the spectators packed into the stand. The rider, resplendent in a navy blue show jacket and skin-tight white breeches, ignored it all, set on taking the next thirteen jumps with similar ease.

Jack Stone’s jaw tensed as he watched. Stylish, brave and fast - this was a competitor he was going to have to go hell for leather to beat.

Up until now, he’d reckoned he stood a good chance of a gold medal. After all, the American showjumping team had won the last two Olympic titles. Not only that, they had left nothing to chance in their preparations for London 2012. They had been training in the US for months on end, and had only flown into London a week ago. But watching riders of this quality made him uneasy. Only for a second, though – Jack wasn’t the type to be racked by self-doubt. But even so, he felt a flicker of irritation that when it came to technique and speed, the European teams so often had the edge.

These are the opening paragraphs of my new ebook, Olympic Flames. If you’d like to read more you can download the novella for free on Amazon on May 23 and 24. I’d love to know what you think!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Novel writing - getting the dialogue right

As a journalist, I spend my days interviewing people and reporting what they say. Maybe I’m kidding myself but I reckon I’ve got a good ear for dialogue – and for an authentic-sounding quote.

But writing novels is far harder. For a start, you’ve invented the characters yourself (unless you’re writing a Hilary Mantel type tome, of course) - so you have to invent convincing dialogue for them too. And bearing in mind that we all speak completely differently, you have to invent different-sounding dialogue for every character, young and old. Joanna Trollope’s a brilliant writer but I always think her characters sound too alike when they speak.

I tried to bear all this in mind when I wrote my new novella, Olympic Flames – and having straight-talking, nearly grown-up children helped a lot. When one of my younger characters described a girl as being “a slip of a thing,” my daughter was on the phone in a trice. “I’ve asked all my flatmates and none of us know what on earth you mean,” she told me. The phrase “getting in a lather” met a similar fate. “No one uses that,” she said. “It should be ‘stressed out.’” And as for “playing gooseberry,” my son rolled his eyes in despair and instructed me to change it to “being a third wheel” – immediately.

So getting your characters’ language and tone right is crucial. But then again you don’t want to go too far and sound as though you’re trying to turn into a hip twenty-something. Not that I ever was a hip twenty-something, sadly.

Actually, all this talk about dialogue reminds me of my first novel, Hard Copy. It was set in the newspaper world, complete with tight deadlines, stressed-out (see, I’m learning) reporters and demanding bosses. One day my copy editor rang me. “There’s a slight problem with the language,” she said. My heart sank, thinking of the smattering of swear words I’d put into the novel to make the news room sound authentic. “Why, is it too bad?” I asked. “No, she laughed. “It’s not bad enough…”

Olympic Flames by Emma Lee-Potter (Endeavour Press, £1.99)
PS. With every room in the house bursting at the seams with books, I've just got a Kindle. I think it could change my life - or at least lead to a much tidier office!
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