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Jakes - My First Love

Oh heck, you don't have to go and tell my husband! He knows all about Jakes! And he knows that Jakes is my MC in my debut novel, Eye on the Ball, so everything is good there.

Each of the characters I've created the last three and a bit years are special, but I must confess that I will always have a soft spot for Jakes. He is like my first love. You know you have to move on, but you will still think fondly of him. It could possibly be because Jakes is the first character I’ve sent out in the world.

The inspiration for Jakes was this photo I've found when I googled green-eyed men. Do you know who it is? Let me introduce you to Matthew Janney. In real life, he is a former boyfriend, back in 1914, of Emma Watson and he used to play rugby for Oxford University. It was this half-smile and his eyes that caught my attention at first and at that stage I didn't have a clue who he was. This photo was how I envisioned Jakes to look like. The fact that Matt played rugby was a bonus.

What was it about Jakes that made me want to tell his story? Maybe it is because there was more to Jakes than being a good rugby player. He had it all. Good looks, physicality, macho male image, intelligence and other attributes to make him an alpha male. They were all there, but that was not Jakes' story though. He wanted to highlight important issues that had nothing to do with his looks. He wanted to show that men like him can be sensitive too. They have similar fears and anxieties as many other people in the world.

I first got that creative light-bulb moment for Eye on the Ball while watching a Six Nations Rugby Match. At first, it had a Christmas theme and I called it Under the Mistletoe. That first scene I wrote is still in the book as Jakes and Angie’s first kiss. I didn’t have much to go on apart from the scene and the names of the two characters, Jakes and Angie.

After writing that first scene, Jakes kept on popping in my head. I ended up spending more time thinking about him than I did the manuscript I’ve been working on (which was Making the Right Call). A few days after I’ve written that scene, the rugby world was shocked by the passing away of the Wallaby Dan Vickerman. There were many panel discussions and articles about his passing. I watched a debate on an NZ show about Dan’s death and the struggles of professional sportsmen and women. One panellist said that it was not uncommon that men in a macho environment don’t talk about their emotions and fears as they don’t want to appear weak. That phrase caught my attention and stuck.

When I plotted the series approximately eight months before, I created a team list. I planned the first six books and built the team around the characters in those books. The only character I had on my team list who might have been Jakes was the eighth man, JJ du Plessis, who didn’t have a story. He was at that stage just a number in the team.

I realise then why Jakes was so cagy. He had something to hide, but it was only two-thirds into the manuscript that I figured out what it was. Why that specific trigger?

I know people like that – men and women who have been or still are in abusive relationships. Some even doesn't know that they are. Maybe that was why Jakes insisted that I tell his story first.

I will always love Jakes that he was prepared to open up and share his story. And I will love him that he gave me an opportunity to write the story.

Now, three years later, Jakes asked me to make some changes to his manuscript. Although he is still available at the moment, I will re-publish his story in June when I release my books from KU. So please don't go out and buy him yet. If you want an ARC copy for review, rather Email me at

Until next time


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