Interview: Cait Nary

Cait Nary lives in Virginia, USA, with her husband and a very anxious German Shepherd. Neither of them gives her too much grief when her writing alarm goes off at 5:30am. If Cait isn’t writing, trying a new muffin recipe, or running on a trail somewhere, she is probably shouting at the Philadelphia Flyers.

Your first book, Season’s Change (Trade Season Book 1), comes out on February 1. What was the inspiration for the story?
The kernel of inspiration that became Season’s Change (Trade Season Book 1) started with an article where an English Premier League official confirmed that the league was aware of gay top-flight football players, even though none were publicly out. As a sports fan, I started to wonder what could lead to the league knowing something like that; and as a huge fan of hockey romances, I decided to take a stab at answering that question within the context of North American professional hockey.
My main character Olly is past the traumatic incident that provided one answer when Season’s Change (Trade Season Book 1) begins, but dealing with the professional, personal, and psychological fallout of that event—plus the pain of being deeply closeted, even from the people who care about him most—became the central arc of the book. I also didn’t want to shy away from addressing the darker side of hockey’s culture. I love hockey enough to suffer through watching the Philadelphia Flyers’ 56 abysmal games last season, but my eyes are definitely open to the sport’s shortcomings.

Give us an insight into your main character. What makes them special?
I knew going into Season’s Change (Trade Season Book 1) that Olly wouldn’t be in a good place mentally, so I needed to create a love interest who would be able to help him move forward. Hockey isn’t known for its supportive approach to mental health (although I do think things are better now than when I drafted the book!), so it was a fun challenge to create a professional hockey player who could do things like normalize mental health care, but still feel realistic to the sport’s culture.
My readers will have to decide for themselves if pro-yoga pro-therapy Benji accomplishes that, but one thing I also wanted to do with Benji was to hold space for people who don’t have their sexualities figured out. Lots of queer folks have always known; but lots of queer folks haven’t, especially if they’ve grown up in profoundly heteronormative environments that are steeped in toxic masculinity. For example, the professional hockey development pipeline! My editor noted that Benji as a character speaks to the power of not knowing: of not being able to know something, because you don’t have the language, you don’t have the context, or you just aren’t personally ready to know it. I hope his storyline will resonate with other folks who have come to realize their queerness later in life, even if in retrospect it seems so obvious.

What is one book you could read over and over again?
Into the Blue, by Pene Henson. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, emotional, friends-to-lovers romance centering on two surfers that’s set primarily in Hawaii. Henson’s writing and use of setting—from Oahu’s North Shore to Surfers Paradise, Australia—is so rich and evocative, and her attention to detail pushed my understanding of what you could do at the craft level in sports romance. But beyond that, Henson’s two MCs are beautifully-realized, three-dimensional human beings who are so careful and thoughtful as they learn to love each other in a new way.

What do you find most challenging about writing? Most fulfilling?
Plot and external conflict are two things I’ve always found difficult to write. My favorite thing about writing is creating complex, multidimensional characters with lives, histories, and relationships outside of their romantic arcs. I always know so much more about my characters than ever makes it onto the page.

Other than books, what is one item you can’t resist buying?
I have accumulated more hockey-themed snapbacks than I will ever be able to wear.

Blurb for Season’s Change (Trade Season Book 1)
“This is hockey romance for hockey fans.” –Rachel Reid, author of the Game Changers series

A veteran hockey player and a rookie can’t get away from each other—or their own desires—in this sexy, heartfelt opposites-attract hockey romance.

Olly Järvinen has got a fresh start playing for a new team, so he’s got to shut his past out and focus. On the game, not on his rookie roommate and his annoyingly sunny disposition—and annoyingly distracting good looks.

All Benji Bryzinski ever wanted was to play in the big leagues, and he’s not going to waste a second of his rookie season. But his roommate keeps knocking him off track.

Olly and Benji spend all their time together—on the ice, in the locker room, in their apartment—and ignoring their unspoken feelings isn’t making them go away. Acting on attraction is one thing, but turning a season’s fling into forever would mean facing the past—and redefining the future.

Buy Season’s Change (Trade Season Book 1) here:

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