Posted by Heidi Blakey on 9th February 2017
I’ve been a published author for ten years, so when I sat down to write Fighter, I assumed the process would be the same as the other 150+ books that I’ve written. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I set out to write Fighter, I had no idea of the journey I was about to begin. I knew I wanted the story to be about more than the world of Mixed Martial Arts. I wanted to explore the man behind the punch, who he was, why he fought and what he felt like after he’d won or lost. I didn’t expect to identify with the character because I’m neither particularly athletic nor a man. However, delving into the story, I found myself identifying with the character of Lucky Gunn.
It wasn’t the physical damage done to Lucky that necessarily mirrored my own life, but the emotional and psychological scars left behind. Abuse is ugly whether perpetrated by a parent, friend or lover. Although wounds heal, the motivation behind the betrayal stamps a person’s mind and heart with a feeling of unworthiness. I didn’t immediately recognize the connection between Lucky and me because I refused to allow myself to feel it. However, once I accepted that I was writing the story with my heart instead of my head, I realized it was a chance for me to use my own pain in a way that was beautiful instead of destructive.
As much as Lucky means to me, he isn’t the only character who helped me on this cathartic journey. Originally, Tony Brick was to be a side character, only brought in to make the story seem more realistic. I modeled the grizzled gym owner after my own father, and I think that’s where the connection was made for me. Brick is gruff to the point that you never really know how he feels about Lucky until it’s nearly too late. The scenes toward the end of the story between Brick and Lucky were some of the hardest I’ve ever written because they allowed me to write the words I couldn’t say out loud to my own father before he passed. I discovered that although my father died twelve years ago, I hadn’t really come to terms with his passing until I wrote Fighter. For that reason alone, this book means more to me than any other I’ve penned.
Dray Cruz, the love interest in the story, has issues of his own. He is fortunate because the betrayals he’s suffered in his life haven’t completely walled off his heart. Dray is the first person to outwardly show Lucky love, and although Lucky doesn’t feel he deserves what Dray offers, Dray doesn’t give up on him. It is only through Dray’s love and support that Lucky has a chance at a future. Dray is the man I’d always hoped to find. It takes a strong person to accept a damaged soul and love them in spite of it.
That said, in my opinion, the most important character in the story is The Brick Yard. The gym may be old and its equipment out of date, but it is a place where a grouchy man named Brick will make sure you go to bed with a full belly, and a fighter will finally get the help he needs to combat the demons of his past. Everyone who has been damaged by life deserves to find a place like The Brick Yard. For me, that place has become the written word. I can pour my fears, heartbreak and demons onto paper and save the people I love from seeing the worst parts of who I am.
I don’t know if Fighter will change your life after reading it, but I will confess that it has changed me after writing it.
Fighter is out now in digital eBook and available in paperback across the UK from Amazon and WHSmith. Buy your copy here.