GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Drawing from her personal experiences as a former sports reporter, local author Jean Mills has transferred her skills from the media bench into a novel.
The Legend, released Nov. 15, is Mills’ third novel to date.
The young adult novel features an injured teen hockey player, Griffin Tardiff, who lands an internship as a sports reporter at a local community radio station, many of the ideas of which translated from Mills former career.
For a decade, Mills, also a former teacher, worked on the media and communications team at Curling Canada, writing about the sport and providing post-game coverage.
“I had a chance to go and combine my love of writing with my love of the sport of curling,” the author said of the experience.
“It was just such an experience and so much fun,” she added. “I learned so much and had so many wonderful experiences with high performance athletes in that world.
“It’s very competitive, very exciting, lots of different personalities and that’s just on the ice,” she explained.
“Then you get on the media and you’re sitting there with TSN and CBC and the Globe and Mail and the Winnipeg Free Press and sports professionals and coming from my background … this was like a whole new world, and I loved it.”
Using her experience in sports media, Mills searched for a way to place a teenager in the world of reporting – and to ensure they had as much fun with it as she did.
“When you’re a writer, you’re mining your own life for story ideas, settings, places, people, and those years of the media bench I just could not waste them,” she explained.
Although she found interviewing athletes terrifying, Mills said it was interesting to take her life experiences and write them into the story.
“It was fun to take that experience, my sort of love of it, but also my fear of it, and translate that into this young character, this kid who’s basically operating in an adult world of the media bench.
“And it was fun to take my feelings of inadequacy and inexperience and write them into Griffin’s experience of being there in the press box.”
Freedom in the flexibility
Of the transition from journalist to novel writer, Mills said she found the structure and language of reporting to be more constricting, whereas in novel writing the rules are a lot less strict.
“You can mess with language, you can use sentence fragments, you can hop back and forth in time,” she explained. “Which is something you would never do if you were writing a business letter or sports reporting.
“But the different styles of writing are something that I’ve worked with all my life and had to jump between, depending on what role I was in at the time.”
Fiction inspired by life
Mills said drawing on her own experiences for the story brought back memories.
“I loved writing his little news reports because it took me back to the media bench again, and I could put on my sports reporter hat and just go to town on it.
“There was a push and pull,” the author said of her decision to leave the world of sports reporting and re-enter the world of fiction.
Although she liked her job as a reporter, what Mills really wanted, was to be able to focus on her writing.
“I didn’t feel I could do both of them at the same time – put my creative energy into fiction writing at the same time as putting my work energy into meeting my requirements on the media and communications team,” she explained.
She added she’s just happy now to have books finally being published.
“I’m holding it in my hands right now looking at it and thinking ‘wow,’” she said.
“I am I’m proud of myself and I’m grateful for all the people who helped me along the way to get this story written. It’s always an accomplishment. It’s like a any kind of project – you start it with such high hopes and dreams that it morphs and changes along the way.
“There are hurdles to be crossed … then finally one day there you are sitting holding the book in your hand and going ‘hey, I did that,’” she added. “It’s a good feeling.”
The Legend is available for order online and at local independent bookstores including Magic Pebble Books in Elora. It’s also available through the Wellington Country Library system in hard copy and in eBook format.
For more information visit jeanmillswriter.com.