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Jay Hogan on Rugby, New Zealand, and new release Crossing the Touchline

Romance Across the Rainbow welcomes author Jay Hogan, on tour with her new installment in the series Auckland Med., Crossing the Touchline. We’ve got the links, an excerpt, and a unique post from the author!


A contemporary New Zealand romance from Dreamspinner Press

What if you’ve worked your whole life for a dream, to play rugby for the most successful sports team on the planet, the New Zealand All Blacks?

What if that dream is so close you can smell it?
What if you meet someone?
What if you fall in love?
What if your dream will cost the man who’s stolen your heart?
And what if the dream changes?

Reuben Taylor has a choice to make.
Cameron Wano is that choice.

(Part of the Auckland Med. series that includes ‘First Impressions’
Can be read as a standalone.)

Amazon
Dreamspinner Press

Excerpt:

Reuben

I parked my screaming muscles on the ludicrously small chair beside
my locker, sweat dripping from every square centimetre of skin, and
shocked stupid by the brilliant game I’d seemingly squeezed out of
nowhere. The roar of fifty thousand screaming fans was still ringing in
my ears from the final whistle, and the official prize-giving was already
a forgotten blur. Except the part where I won man of the freaking match.
Holy fucking shit.

I’d done a brief stint in front of the media for that little gem, but
the coaches had taken pity on me after that, and following an obligatory
few comments about how I was just one of the team and how honoured
I felt, blah, blah, blah, I was allowed to sneak off to the change rooms
relatively unmolested. And that’s when the whole shebang really hit me,
and why I’d yet to move a muscle off the damn chair.

Nothing in my body or brain was firing how it should. I was so
damn shell-shocked by the experience, I could barely string a couple of
words together. And when I was finally able to drag my attention from
the floor to my fellow teammates busy eyeing me with amusement… and
yeah, approval, I nearly burst out of my skin with pride.

A pair of Predator boots stopped in front of mine, at the same time
as a hand clapped me on the back. “Fucking A, Taylor. Where the fuck
you been hiding that all week?”

I locked eyes with Andrew Simons, who was wearing the same
shit-eating grin I’d had plastered on my face since the final whistle.
“Thanks, man. I’m just so damn glad I didn’t disappoint, you know?
Not like you didn’t have a great game too, though. Fucking amazing
tackle on McKenzie. He was a shoo-in for that try if you hadn’t brought
him down.”

Andrew shrugged. “Maybe, but it hardly compares to the two tries
you brought home for us, you glory-grabbing bastard. And where the
hell did you learn to offload like that? Johan’s still grinning from ear to
ear. Not often a prop gets to score under the posts. We’re not gonna hear
the end of it—you understand that, right?”

I did. I laughed. “Fuck. And you don’t even have to share a room
with him. Hey, I must qualify for a room upgrade now, though, right?
The guy’s snoring is intense to say the least.”

Andrew snorted. “Fuck off. He’s gonna drive us all nuts with that
try shit. If anything, you’ve earned yourself a longer sentence.” He
roughed up my hair and moved on, doing his congratulatory rounds of
the change room.

Head coach Gary Knowles—hardly the most talkative of men—
approached with a sly smile and a proffered hand. “Well done, son. You
did us proud. We want to see more of that in the future.”

Hell yes. I’d take that. It damn near constituted a sermon of praise
from Knowlesy. Pride swelled in my chest and my hand automatically
reached for my phone, but as desperate as I was to share my high with
Cam, I was worried how awkward it might be for him since we hadn’t
yet talked.

I thought of calling my father instead. Didn’t. Fuck him. He hadn’t
even bothered to contact me since the game ended.

An incoming text buzzed in my hand and I glanced down. Cam. Yes!
Just seeing his name damn near brought tears to my eyes.
It had been his win as much as mine, and tomorrow I’d tell him exactly that.
Every time things threatened to go pear-shaped on that field tonight,
I thought of him and what he’d tell me. His sass to my ear. And it worked.

Congrats! Two tries. Fucking brilliant. So proud of you. See you
tomorrow.

The lump in my throat threatened to choke me. Proud. Cam was
fucking proud, of me. It was the only message I needed. His, the only
opinion that truly mattered. Grinning like a loon, I wanted to see him so
badly. I’d have given anything to walk out that dressing-room door and
have him waiting.

Jay Hogan on New Zealand, Rugby, and Writing

When I first started writing mm romance, ‘Crossing the Touchline’ was the story I really wanted to write and get published but it didn’t feel like a ‘first book’. To that end, I wrote and had published ‘First Impressions’, the first in the Auckland Med Series, and it is in that book that you meet the character of Cameron Wano for the first time.

New Zealand is a rugby mad nation, (including me), and the All Blacks with their 120 year history, really are arguably the most successful sports team on the planet. They have a win rate of over 77%. They are not a national team. They are an international representative side so all their wins are against other top-flight international teams. They don’t play together in any national competition.

The mystique of the All Blacks is buried deep in the NZ and international rugby psyche. Maybe because we are such a tiny nation, 4 million-ish give or take, but we punch well above our weight in international sport, nowhere more so than in rugby. It is a full-contact, hard sport and physically punishing, a fact that has only added to its tough-man image. There are no pads, no helmets and no subbing on and off the field to give anyone a break. You get subbed off, you stay off.

To this day there has never been an out gay All Black, although there have been lots of rumours of course. The rugby scene is slowly becoming more diverse and inclusive, and all the protective policies are in place. The NZ Rugby Federation even got the rainbow tick but they have yet to be tested at All Black level so we shall see. I for one cannot wait! The All Blacks and NZ Rugby have earned a rainbow tick for their inclusive policies but they have yet to be tested, and although on principle the openness and policies are in place to welcome the concept, it is likely to be the rugby mad public, both nationally and internationally that will offer the biggest challenge.

What is interesting about that, is that the All Black aura is so powerful that having an out gay All Black will likely carry more weight internationally, and attract more press interest (read huge) than an out gay player in any other international rugby team.

Ma’a Nonu, an All Black who played over 100 tests and who simply liked to push the fashion boundaries a bit, caused an international stir when he ran out onto the field once wearing guyliner. It rated headlines from South Africa to Taipei, everyone wondering if the incident would put a dent in the All Black tough man image. Honestly!

It’s like the rugby world is holding its breath for the day, and I think that creates an added pressure which will make it even harder for that first player to come out. In ‘Crossing the Touchline’, I also wanted to push that boundary even further, wondering what would it be like if that first out gay player had a partner who didn’t and wouldn’t pass for straight. After all, saying rugby is ready for an out gay player isn’t necessarily the same as saying it’s ready for Cameron Wano.

NZ as a whole is a fairly inclusive country with a longer history than many of championing LGBT rights protected by law. Marriage equality happened in 2013 but more importantly there has been a good representation of the LGBT community in parliament itself. Georgina Beyer was the world’s first openly transgender Mayor 1995-2000 and went on to be the world’s openly first transgender Member of Parliament 1999-2007.

There is, nevertheless, a strong pocket of homophobia still present in NZ, especially within the rugby/sporting arena. I loved writing this book and especially developing the character of Cameron Wano. He will always be one of my favourites: sassy, strong, mature, living his truth, and playful with gender and dress.

But more importantly for me, was the idea of developing the relationship between Cam and Reuben, with Cam playing a very strong lead physically. I love that switch up. It went along with challenging the rugby stereotypes too. When we say the All Blacks are ready for an out gay player, I think most people think of a very masc type of guy (which would probably be true for the All Black partner due to physique requirements etc) but what about their partner? Is rugby, the nation and the international scene, ready for someone like Cameron Wano? We won’t know till that happens.

About Jay Hogan:
Jay Hogan is a New Zealand author writing in m/m romance, romantic suspense and fantasy. She has travelled extensively, living in a number of countries. She’s a cat aficionado especially Maine Coons, and an avid dog lover (but don’t tell the cat). She loves to cook- pretty damn good, loves to sing – pretty damn average, and as for loving full-time writing -absolutely… depending on the word count, the deadline, her characters’ moods, the ambient temperature in the Western Sahara, whether Jupiter is rising, the size of the ozone hole over New Zealand and how much coffee she’s had.

You can find Jay at:
https://www.facebook.com/JayHoganAuthor
https://twitter.com/jayhoganauthor
jayhoganauthor@gmail.com


Thank you for visiting, Jay! Come back soon. Readers, thanks for reading. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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