The author of topical novel Over The Line told an event in Monmouth this week how ‘uncanny’ it had been to see issues unfolding in athletics and cycling that had so many parallels with the book’s plot.
Speaking at Rossiter Books, as part of a book tour taking in Chepstow, Newport and Cardiff (see below), Steve Howell admitted he had not expected his debut novel to be published amid quite so many controversies.
Over The Line is set on the eve of the Rio Olympics next year and tells the story of how a fictional poster girl and gold medal hope comes under suspicion because of personal associations and past events that link her to steroids.
“It’s one of the hazards of writing about a topical subject that events can overtake you – or appear to – but in this case they are actually highlighting the main theme of the novel,” he said.
“It’s not that sports-people have continued to fail drugs tests – that’s no surprise – but the way in which the current controversies involve allegations that are not clear cut. What’s interesting is how doubt is cast on people and institutions when the facts are contested.
“Do people in athletics believe what’s in the Sunday Times or what the sport’s governing body is saying? Do they believe Mo Farah’s coach Alberto Salazar or the allegations on Panorama?
“It’s uncanny. That’s exactly the dilemma my narrator – a coach – faces with his star athlete when the police reopen an investigation into the steroid-related death of an old school friend and it emerges she’s also still in touch with a rugby player who’s been banned for using steroids. He doesn’t know what to think.
“Trust is a funny thing. It can be easily shaken or very resilient. It can be built on solid foundations or completely misplaced. Who do you trust when the facts aren’t clear? How do you get to the truth?
“Over The Line is a thriller, but the dilemma at the heart of it is about trust as the search for the truth unfolds.”
Published by Quaero, Over The Line in paperback (£7.99) is on sale at Waterstones and other bookshops or online via this website (post free), Amazon or www.gwales.com.
A Kindle edition of Over The Line is available at £3.49 on Amazon.
Over The Line events:
Friday 4th September – First Fridays Live at Cwtsh, the old Stow Hill Library, Newport – 8pm (£5 admission including a glass of wine). Also featuring poet Rhys Milsom. www.cwtsh.org
Thursday 10th September – Talk, signing and a glass of wine at Chepstow Bookshop, Chepstow – 7pm (to book please call Jamie-Lee or Hannah – see below)
Thursday 12th November – Talk & signing at Wellfield Bookshop, Cardiff – 7pm (for details contact Jamie-Lee or Hannah)
For more details on the above events or to arrange an event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or phone them on 02920 30 40 50