I’m happy to have Amy Aislin with us today talking about her debut novella, The Play of His Life. She also shares interesting facts about the story’s settings and an excerpt. Enjoy!
Settings and Surroundings
First off, a huge thank you to Lila for hosting me on her blog today!
My debut novella, The Play of His Life, was released on April 28 from MLR Press. It’s a second chance love story between Christian and Riley, two former best friends-turned-lovers-turned exes who haven’t spoken in six years.
The Play of His Life is set around the Christmas holidays in my hometown of Oakville, Ontario, Canada. I chose this location because even though it doesn’t have the expansive history of old European cities or the frenetic energy of a bustling city or the wonder of a vast country landscape, it’s still one of my favourite places in the world and Christmas in Oakville is spectacular.
The Town of Oakville, as it’s known, is a suburb of Toronto located about 30 minutes west of the city, with a population of about 200,000. (The welcome sign says 183,000 but I don’t believe that for a second. Wikipedia says 193,832, which is much more likely.) It’s charming and friendly and beautiful, right on the shores of Lake Ontario.
Almost every location mentioned in The Play of His Life is real: Christian and Riley’s neighbourhood, Lakeshore Road, Lakeside Park, Glen Eden, Milton, the Annex in Toronto. There are only two locations (if I remember correctly) that are complete figments of my imagination: Warm Glow, the bakery former NHL player Riley now owns, and the frozen pond in the middle of Christian and Riley’s neighbourhood. Both play important roles in the story.
Oakville plays an important role in the story as well. It’s the place both Christian and Riley consider home. It’s the place I consider home. I guess you could say that Oakville takes on the qualities of a separate character in the story. At least, I hope that’s the sense you get!
If you’re ever playing tourist in Toronto, might I suggest a little detour to Oakville?
Former best friends turned lovers Christian and Riley haven’t seen or spoken to each other in six years…is there a better time than the holiday season to reconnect with your favorite person?
The last person Christian wants to run into on a visit home to spend time with his mom over the holidays is his former best friend-turned-lover-turned-ex. But there Riley is, in all his tall, chiseled, blondness. The same guy who walked out on him six years ago, breaking his heart in the process. Who knew he’s still in love with the jerk? (Oh yeah, he did. What? Who says denial isn’t healthy?)
Two years ago, Riley was injured out of the NHL, but he’s got his own bakery now and a quiet life selling quiches and cupcakes to his customers. Then Christian unexpectedly walks back into his life, forcing Riley to question his choices. Especially that one choice he made six years ago that walked him out of Christian’s life. Now if only he had the courage to tell a boy how he really feels about him…
GET IT TODAY
In the middle of their neighborhood, about halfway between their houses, was a small pond that froze over every winter. Riley was already there when Christian arrived at three o’clock on Christmas Eve, lugging his very, very old hockey gear and a tiny dog.
“Trevor!” The dog took off at Riley’s greeting, making a beeline for him. Already wearing his gear, Riley couldn’t crouch to greet the little shih tzu, so he bent at the waist and gave the dog a pat on the head.
Christian stopped at the edge of the pond and admired the way Riley’s jeans molded to his deliciously tight ass. Riley may not play in the pros anymore, but he still had an incredible goalie butt.
“I see you two know each other,” Christian said, mildly offended at the dog’s abandonment. Trevor clearly preferred Riley over Christian.
“Your mom brings him into the shop all the time.”
Christian grimaced. “You still see my mom?” Riley had mentioned something of the sort the other day, too.
“All the time. I see her more than I see you.”
Riley stiffened for a second as he seemed to realize what he’d said. Christian stood looking at him, unimpressed. Because really, who was it that ran out after they’d hooked up the last time, after his dad’s funeral?
Riley gave him a tight smile that said something like, Yeah, well, the phone works both ways, dude.
They’d have to talk about it sometime, but today wasn’t that day.
“You gonna stand there all day,” Riley joked, “or are we gonna play?”
The twinkle in his eyes told Christian that yes, Riley was aware of the double entendre he’d just uttered.
Oh, they were going to play, all right.
They didn’t bother with skates; the frozen pond was too bumpy for it to be safe. But Riley had brought his old hockey net, so at least they had a real goal.
Christian put on his gear — it was a bit of a tight fit, but it’d do — grabbed his hockey stick and a puck and moved to center ice.
“Trevor,” Christian said, and pointed with his stick. Trevor moved off the ice to nose at some dead plants poking through the snow against a fence.
“Think you’ll finally get one past me?” Riley asked, pulling on his mask. Christian would not call that smirk sexy.
“Finally? You must be forgetting all the previous times I scored on you.”
Now there he went with the double entendres.
“Ha! If by ‘all’ you mean ‘never.’ Bring it, Dufresne. Bet you can’t get one past me.”
“Bet? Okay.” Christian nodded once decisively. “If I get one past you I get to try a shot of Shimmer.”
Riley shrugged, all casual-like. “Fine.”
“And if I don’t get one past you?”
Christian could see Riley contemplating his answer, and even through the cage of Riley’s goalie mask Christian could tell Riley’s ocean eyes were on him, assessing. They swept Christian up and down. Christian could almost feel the heat in his gaze like a physical touch. He obviously had been wrong a few days ago…Riley was just as affected by him as he was by Riley. The heat shimmering between them, even from ten feet apart…. Like he could reach out and grab it. He was sure Riley was going to bet him a blowjob or something and his cock started to stiffen in his jeans.
“I want to know the reason you haven’t moved back here,” Riley said.
Instant boner-killer. No way was he telling Riley shit. Meant he’d have to work his ass off to get the puck past him. Riley hadn’t played pro in two years. He was probably out of practice, right?
Wrong. The fucker stopped all twenty-six shots — yes, Christian counted — with seeming ease.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Amy Aislin started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in Oakville, Ontario, she’s a marketer at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including traveling, astronomy, ecology, and baking.