Rad-Reader:  How did you come up with this story?  And why a biracial?

Elley:  Baseball has been a big part of my life. My father played semi-pro, and my husband played in college and is now an MLB team physician. Years ago, my husband was also the team physician for an indie-pro team, and I was always intrigued by this level of baseball, where the salaries are abysmal, but the desire to play is maybe even greater than at the highest level of the game. With that as a base, the details of this particular story began to form back in 2014, when I watched baseball phenom Mo’ne Davis pitch in the Little League World Series. I started to imagine what her adult life might look like. Pauly Byrne was born from those imaginings. As far as a character’s genetic makeup goes, I never think too much about that. Characters pop into my head as pretty much whole people with their weight, height, skin color, etc. already established. When I imagine the perfect partner for a character, I’m more concerned with complementary personalities than I am with appearances. For instance, Ian was already a fairly regular character in the first Aces book, THE CHANGE UP, while Pauly simply made an appearance at tryouts. I didn’t expect Pauly and Ian to end up together because I didn’t know enough about them then. (In fact, I intended to stick Ian with Rachel’s assistant. Lol.) But when I wrote the second Ace’s book, THE SWEET SPOT, and got a better feel for the characters, it was clear to me that Ian and Pauly would be good together.  
Rad-Read: This book really wasn't about the genetic makeup of the characters as it is the story but it seems to be the obvious question with the cover.  It really is about the game and the thirst this character has for it and the couple too.

Rad-Reader:  Why is baseball all that Pauly can think of?  It seems not even her brother's is as self-absorbed as she is.

Elley:  I wouldn’t call her self-absorbed. I would call her determined and focused. I can’t imagine a woman will ever make it to a professional level of baseball without having complete tunnel vision where her sport is concerned. When the odds are stacked against you, you have to be that much more determined.

Rad-Reader:  She takes it farther than even the guys do on the team.  To the point where she hasn’t done anything to help herself support herself.  Her parents are working three jobs. Why?

Elley:  Pauly’s dream is also her father’s dream—her family’s dream. That’s not unrealistic no matter what the goal. We’ve all heard stories about parents paying astronomical rent prices for flats in NYC and supporting their adult children financially while pursuing entertainment careers. Sports are very similar. I have intimate knowledge of this as the sister of a former US Speedskater. My parents did everything from selling a dream house to going into substantial debt and moving across the country to support my brother’s dream. The entire Olympic family is filled with stories like this. Great accomplishments often require great sacrifices. Eventually, however, people get to the point where the lifestyle and sacrifices are draining, and difficult decisions must be made. That’s where Pauly is when THE PERFECT GAME begins. 

Rad-Reader:  What’s really going on with Ian’s dad?  There seems to be a disconnect between father and son.  Has it always been there?

Elley:  There’s definitely a disconnect, and I imagine it was there for most of Ian’s life—especially once his mother was gone and his father really withdrew. Ian’s father didn’t have a loving, involved father as a role model. In fact, most of the men in his life had drinking problems, so he did the best he could with Ian, but he fell short much of the time.

Rad-Reader:  Was Ian’s mom in the military?  He mentioned home on leave.  Did she pass while she was in?

Elley:  Yes, Ian’s mom was in the Army, having served multiple tours of duty in the Middle East. In the book, we also learn she was honorably discharged before her death.

Rad-Reader:  He plays ball because it’s fun.  It seems like he has an eye as a coach too.  Has he thought about doing that when he retires or is landscaping his passion?

Elley:  I wouldn’t say landscaping is his passion. It’s an easy paycheck. I can see Ian offering pitching and catching instruction on the side while he basically is a house husband to Pauly, supporting her career. I can even see him being a stay-at-home dad and a kids’ baseball coach while Pauly “brings home the bacon.” Lol.

Rad-Reader:  Why does Ian drink so much?  Is it a problem do you think or is there nothing better to do and it just keeps his hands busy?

Elley:  Drinking for entertainment and as an escape is all Ian has ever known. He learned the coping mechanism from his father. It was definitely a problem to a certain extent, but unlike his father, Ian was never a full-blown alcoholic, so he was able to walk away easier.

Rad-Reader:  Why is Pauly such a hard ass and such a brown noser?  She seems to think that just because she is a woman that the guys owe her something or at least an understanding.  Doesn’t she have to earn it on her merits just like they do?  But she also has to become a part of the team and not bite the hands of those that tried to help her like Ian’s.

Elley:  Pauly is all about earning things on merit. In the book, we learn about her major accomplishments—everything from state titles to pitching accolades in pro ball. Her problem with Ian is that she doesn’t believe HE’S earned anything on merit. He’s late to practices and games and parties his life away, and he made it onto the team as a backup catcher simply because he had some talent. At the beginning of the book, she can’t imagine someone who hasn’t accomplished the things she has in baseball teaching her anything. Of course, she ends up learning she’s wrong.

Rad-Reader:  Why does he come off as if everything is no big deal?  He really is a kind-hearted guy it seems but he doesn’t want anyone to know.  Why?

Elley:  Without giving too much of the book away, I’ll say that Ian’s mother’s death broke his heart. Much of what happened in his life—especially his childhood—has been a HUGE deal, so his natural reaction is to avoid big deals as an adult.

Rad-Reader:  Why would it be bad for them to be in a relationship?  She seems to act like that would be a bad thing.

Elley:  Well, all things considered, teammates in romantic relationships could be catastrophic for any team if bad blood ensues after a breakup and messes with team harmony. For a woman, who is clawing her way to the top of a sport that doesn’t wholly welcome her, it’s even trickier. The last thing she needs or wants is someone thinking she isn’t serious about baseball and doesn’t have what it takes to reach the major league. Also, in general, driven people are often uninterested in serious relationships when they are actively engaged in the pursuit of big career achievements. Who needs the added pressure and emotion of falling in love and trying to make time for another person’s thoughts and feelings when you’re working 16-hour days and committing everything you have to your profession? It’s hard to prioritize.  

Rad-Reader:  What was her dad’s problem with Ian?  He seemed a bit harsh to me? 

Elley:  Since Pauly complained to her father about Ian early on in the book, he was naturally aware of the guy and the potential problems their dysfunctional work relationship could cause for Pauly’s season and her future baseball goals. When he sees Pauly and Ian in cozy conversation in the hotel gym, he realizes he might have more to worry about than the two not getting along. The last thing Pauly’s dad wants is for her to fall in love and walk away from baseball too soon after all she has achieved.

Rad-Reader:  Her dad even was a bit harsh with his grown children and her as to how she was going to be seen by the press and asking her about her hoodie.  The reaction he had to them watching ESPN and them going to the bar.  For heaven sake, they are grown, adults.  Why was he asking that way?  Why did she allow it?

Elley:  I’ve raised two men. Both played baseball at various levels. In my experience, most baseball moms and dads are a different breed. Lol. And I mean that with great affection. Some have very high expectations. They support their children vigorously, and they dream aggressively about what the future will hold. Everybody thinks their kid is destined for the majors. In the book, we learn Pauly’s brothers played baseball at higher levels, too, so we can imagine their father being right there to push them every step of the way. Parents like this are a lot like live-in coaches, and as long as they aren’t unnecessarily cruel, children raised in that environment are very respectful and even eager to please.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play…

Pauly:  Jourdan Dunn

Ian:  Kyle Lowder

Elley:  Wow! Your choices are wonderful. Beautiful people! I would be absolutely fine with those castings. I do have a Pinterest board dedicated to THE PERFECT GAME, and from the beginning, my choices have been:

Pauly:  Serayah McNeill, who I first saw on television in Fox’s Empire.

Ian:  Kellan Lutz, who I first saw in Twilight.

Rad-Reader:  What songs best describes your couple or your book as a whole?
 "I'm Falling For You - Chester See"


“Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur
I absolutely adore the line about him taking the kids to school and waving them goodbye because I can imagine Ian doing this while Pauly is on the road playing baseball.

Rad-Reader:  What was your favorite subject in school?

Elley:  I went to a school with a performing arts center, so half of my day was spent in classes devoted to musical theater. That was my favorite subject.

Rad-Reader:  Did you always want to be a writer?  If not, then what else?

Elley:  I was a public relation major in college, and writing was certainly a big part of that. I ended up spending 10 years as a non-fiction writer and editor before I decided to try fiction writing. While I didn’t specifically say I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, writing has always been a big part of who I am.

Rad-Reader:  What is your favorite dessert?

Elley:  Ice cream.

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Elley:  I’m working on a new series with two other authors. My book, HOME on Anna Maria Island, is the first book in the series. The hero, Gavin Sullivan, is a professional baseball player, who has gained too much weight in the offseason while dealing with some serious family issues. The heroine, Emerson Raye, is a curvy supermodel and positive body image spokesperson. It’s a timely story about love and acceptance, and I can’t wait for it to be available. When? Sometime in early 2018, so make sure you sign up for my newsletter to be kept updated. Lol.
Rad-Reader: I would love to get the ARC on that one.  I am a BBW, BBW reader, and hopefully sooner rather than a later published writer of a BBW.

Home on Anna Maria Island: Sullivan’s Sons Book 1

See Excerpt

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?

Elley:  You can buy my books at all major e-tailers and at Simon & Schuster’s website.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find you on the Web?

Elley:  Visit my website at www.elleyarden.com. Once you’re there, you can connect with me via social media, and you can sign up for my newsletter.

     I am so grateful that you were able to be with us.  Also, that you were able to give us some first-hand knowledge not only about your book and characters but what it is like in the real world of sports.  Not only from various angles of the different sports but from the athletes POV  and their parents too.  
   Thanks for taking the time to answer all my fangirl questions.  As I'm reading and thinking, "Hmm I wonder what the author was thinking here?"  :D  Come back anytime to post your newest book on our page Shout Out: An Author's Place.  You are now a 1 Rad-Reader Misfit too.

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