Paul Howard and Gordon D'Arcy on working together on Gordon's Game
Paul Howard and Gordon D'Arcy have opened up about working together on the children's book, Gordon's Game.
The first of three planned novels, Gordon's Game follows Gordon D'Arcy, an ordinary boy who is extraordinary when he gets a rugby ball in his hands.
The star player for Wexford Wanderers, Gordon dreams of one day wearing the Ireland jersey. A dream like that means hard work, raw talent and never losing sight of your goals.
And while he has a wild streak that often lands him in trouble, his Mum and Dad think that if he can just channel his energy, all will be well.
Then something utterly mad happens and he gets a chance to live his biggest dream.
Gordon told Her he was out for a walk with some of his family members when the idea of turning his story into a children's book was brought up.
"I was out for a walk with my sister and my kids, and we were just shooting the breeze a bit," he explained. The conversation eventually turned to books, which is when his sister suggested he turn his own story into a children's book.
"That more or less started [Gordon's Game] for me," Gordon continued. "I love the idea stage of any project. I was rummaging around in my noodle a little bit, and once I had an idea of what I was thinking, I rang Paul - and once I set the scene to him, he was in right away."
"I went from going from having an idea in my head to writing the book with Paul pretty quickly, but we took our time with it - we wanted to make sure we were really happy with it," he added.
Paul, the author of the Ross O'Carroll-Kelly series, added that he thought it was a "clever" and "novel" idea when he found out that Gordon wanted to share his story via a children's book.
"Gordon was interested in writing his story and he phoned me - I knew him over the years, because I used to work as a sports writer," Paul recalled. "We were aware of each other. He came to one of the Ross [O'Carroll-Kelly] plays in the Olympia as well."
"He left a message on my voicemail saying he was interested in telling his story. Maybe once a year, a sportsperson comes to me to ask if I would ghostwrite their autobiographies," he continued. "I'm not really interested in ghostwriting books anymore, certainly not sports autobiographies. I don't read them, I wasn't that interested.
"I was actually thinking, 'how am I going to get out of this?' Until Gordon mentioned he wanted to write it as a children's story and I just thought, 'wow, what a great idea.' As far as I know, nobody in Ireland has ever done it before: written their real-life experiences as a sports person through the medium of a children's book. I thought it was a clever idea, really novel.
"And I knew enough about his career and his life to know his story, his trajectory and his life, was perfect for a story like this. It wouldn't work for every player."
As for why he wanted to make it as a children's book rather than a sports autobiography, Gordon explained it was down to one particular thing: a sports autobiography was never in the plan.
"I got the idea when I was out with my sister, that I'd be writing a kids book. I was never going to write an autobiography, that wasn't in the conversation," he said. "I'm four years retired. If I was going to write [a sports autobiography], I would've written it by now. I was never, ever writing an autobiography."
And while writing children's books are a new experience for Paul, he told Her that he wouldn't rule out writing more of them in the future - in fact, he has more of them already planned.
"I would [do more children's books], yeah, actually. Gordon's Game is the first in a series of three we're going to be doing, and we've actually started in book two in the series, which is going to be out next year" he explained. "I [also] have a side project which I parked for a little while while I was working on Gordon's Game. It's a children's book of my own creation, which I'm really really excited about - and it'll be published in 2021, so I'll be going back to that after Christmas."
Gordon's Game has been nominated for Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) in the An Post Irish Book Awards.
"It was really good," Gordon said, of receiving the news of the nomination. "It's nice validation for the team and everyone that worked on it."
"It's always a nice thing. I never take it for granted; it's lovely to be recognised by the industry - that's always a great thing," Paul said of the nomination. "I've been shortlisted a good few times now for Ross, but it's one of those things...I never presume, it's always a lovely thing when it happens."
"I'll be devastated one day when it doesn't happen," he added with a laugh, before continuing, "But it's nice to get that recognition from booksellers."
Gordon D'Arcy and Paul Howard are nominated for Specsavers Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) in the An Post Irish Book Awards for their book ‘Gordon's Game’. You can vote for your favourite at anpostirishbookawards.ie.