Time for another book recipe! It’s been brought to my attention that there is some sort of sport thing this weekend and I intend to join in, in the most sitting-down-and-not-getting-off-the-Internet way possible. Grab your favourite sports top and let’s get started!
- A plucky bunch of ragtag misfits. Choose your own flavours from any of the following:
- The loveable prankster
- Big and dumb
- Child of another famous athlete
- The nerd
- That one really angry kid
- A girl
- One grizzled yet not-too-jaded coach
- A big ol’ trophy
- A team of professional yet evil players
- A beloved community thing in peril
- One sleazy corporate betrayer
- Sports, I guess
- Choose your setting. It can be anywhere, as long as you make one thing perfectly clear: it’s being held together by one (and only one) beloved community thing. Probably sports-related. Sure hope nothing happens to it.
- But oh no, here comes the sleazy corporate betrayer! They’re going to buy the community thing and turn it into a mall! (It’s always a mall.) There’s only one way to stop them…
- …entering this sports competition and winning the big ol’ trophy!
- Assemble your team of ragtag misfits. The one who came up with the idea is the leader.
- The team try and play the sport, but they’re bad. Like, really bad. Looks like they need…
- …a grizzled yet not-too-jaded coach! Good thing we found one staring wistfully at an old sports thing.
- Training time! Don’t forget to listen to an eighties power ballad.
- Time for your first match!
- You lose. But not permanently – it’s all about the journey. More training!
- The grizzly old coach dispenses some life advice. Pay attention, it’ll help you resolve a moral dilemma at the end.
- One of the players is having an issue that means he’s having trouble with the sport thing. You know what this means – more training.
- Time for another match and this time, you win! You’re through to the next round of the sports competition, oh boy!
- The professional yet evil players make their first appearance. They’re this year’s favourites to win, which means they’ll never win.
- Time for more matches! The team are winning, all thanks to the power of love working together.
- Time for the semi-final and it’s a close thing. That one player with the issue freaks out and the team almost don’t make it through.
- But oh no, here comes the sleazy corporate betrayer! They offer the leader a massive, MASSIVE bribe to let the evil team win.
- Angst about it for a bit. The bribe would save the beloved community thing, but what about the teeeaaaaaam?
- Remember the grizzled coach’s life advice right before the final. Give a rousing pre-match speech and decide that you’re playing to win. To heck with the corporate betrayer!
- Time for the final! It’s, like, soooo tense. The evil team cheat, that one player with the issue finally gets over it and does some good sport, and nothing is resolved until the final five minutes of the game…
- …where you win by just one point! Hooray! The beloved community thing has been saved, the coach is 20% less jaded, and we’ve all learned a lesson about team spirit. Go home for tea and medals with the big ol’ trophy.
THE END. Serve painted in sports team colours, so everyone knows you’re serious about sports.
- Your coach can’t be too grizzled and sad because he needs to get over it by the end of the novel. Instead of going for a properly dark backstory, just have him mutter about ‘the worst mistake of my career’.
- All your characters must be invested in the sports, apart from one comedy side character who just doesn’t get it. This character is either blonde or a nerd.
- Don’t get too technical with your sports talk. Your reader wants to see the ball get put wherever it goes – no-one’s here for a discussion about windspeed.
- Always put your rivals in matching clothes, but like, in a sinister way. It’s got to be about 20% more evil than normal sports gear.
- Winning the trophy fixes literally everyone’s problems. Can’t afford university fees? Trophy. Need a prosthetic leg? Trophy. Dead parents? Trophy.
- Always let your characters make big life decisions live on air.
- If there’s a couple, make them break up about two-thirds of the way through. Then one of them gives a big speech on camera at the big game, and then they get back together while the crowd cheers.
And here’s one I prepared earlier…
As he walked home from the Community Sports Centre, Tommy King ran through the match play in his head. It had to be perfect. The big game was on Saturday, and there was still so much to do. The legs training, the arms training, the strategy bits…not to mention he still had to get his mum to wash his kit. But it would all be worth it. Once they’d won that trophy, they’d all be free to –
“Ah, Mr King. Let me offer you a lift.”
A shiny black limousine had pulled up alongside him. The back window was rolled down – tinted glass, he noticed – and a man in dark glasses was smiling at him. Tommy kept walking. He’d sat through the Stranger Danger talk at school and okay, that was seven years ago now, but his old headteacher had really known how to hammer home a point. He’d done the voice and everything.
The man’s smile didn’t even flicker. “Be reasonable, Mr King. It’s going to rain. You’ll ruin your sports shoes. We don’t want anything to happen to them before Saturday, now do we?”
Tommy glanced up. Big, dark clouds were building like a metaphor over the Community Sports Centre. The car door opened.
He did, and his mouth fell open. The seats were upholstered with the fur of a snow leopard. The door handles were made of diamonds. A light-up bar ran along one side of the car and when he sat down, a robotic voice said ‘Good evening, Mr King’.
“Don’t forget your seatbelt,” said the man, “it’s real silk. Champagne?”
He pressed a button as the car pulled away. A compartment in the wall popped open to reveal a bottle of champagne in a bucket of ice, and two tall glasses. Tommy instantly became very aware of the smell of his sports kit.
“I’m only going down the road,” he said, “there’s no need for all this.”
The man opened the champagne with a pop. There was a brief explosion of swearing from the driver’s compartment and the car swerved widely.
“On the contrary, Mr King,” he said, pouring out a glass, “I’ve wanted to meet you for some time. We have a lot to discuss, you and I.”
The man stuck a business card into the glass of champagne and handed it to Tommy. It was made of embossed glass. He fished it out and read the name: Edgar Slythe. Now, he remembered. Edgar Slythe worked for CompanyCorp, the company that wanted to tear down the Community Sports Centre and build a mall on the spot. Tommy tried to crush the card in his fist, but he just cut his finger instead.
“You’ve made quite the impression, Mr King,” said Slythe, sipping his glass of champagne. “Everyone’s talking about you and your little team. I see you managed to sort out that unfortunate business with the rackets and the clubs.”
Tommy took his bleeding finger out of his mouth. “Anyone who knows anything about the sport knows that you need both.”
“Yes. You’ve shown real promise. But tell me – do you really think you’re ready for the Big Sports League?”
“Of course we are! We’ve been practising. Coach McGroughlin has taught us all about how we’re not supposed to do handballs, how to do a two-handed grip on the club and the racket at the same time, and about how we’re not supposed to hit the ball with our feet, except when we are. We’re as good as any other team!”
Slythe raised his eyebrows. “If you say so. Remind me, how many sports trophies have your little band of misfits won?”
Tommy said nothing. He couldn’t; his finger was in his mouth.
“The other sports team,” continued Slythe, “are up against you in the final. They’ve won last year’s trophy, and the year before, and the year before that, and they’ve all been nominated for the Sportiest Sportsperson Award for the past five years. You’ve got a tall order, beating them.”
Tommy inspected his bleeding finger. There really was quite a lot of blood, and he was starting to feel a bit queasy. He poured a bit of champagne onto the hem of his sports top – Slythe winced – and wrapped his finger in the damp material.
Slythe leaned forward. “Listen. Tommy. We all know how Saturday’s game is going to go. You’ll be eaten alive. Why not spare yourself the humiliation? I’ll make it worth your while.”
“What do you mean?”
“A full scholarship to Sports Academy. When you’ve graduated, you’ll be drafted into the bestest sports team in all the land. And after that, a job with CompanyCorp, as our official sports spokesperson.”
Tommy sat back in his seat. He’d dreamed of going to Sports Academy since he was a kid, but only the very best at sports got to go there. Nobody knew how to put the ball in the place where it was supposed to go like a Sports Academy graduate.
“All you have to do is lose on Saturday.”
Tommy bit his lip. Getting into Sports Academy would set him up for life, even without the job at CompanyCorp. He’d be able to buy himself a limo just as nice as this one, and still have enough money to buy his mum a new house. But throwing the match… What would Coach McGroughlin say? How would he face up to his teammates? There was a stinging feeling in his lip; he’d bitten it so hard he’d drawn blood. He always did that when he was thinking.
“I can see you’ve got a lot to think about,” said Slythe, looking slightly disgusted. “My number’s on the card. Give me a call when you’ve thought about your future.”
The car slowed to a halt. Tommy handed back his glass of champagne and tried to put Slythe’s card in his gym bag. To his credit, Slythe didn’t even flinch at the smell. And when Tommy dropped and broke the card, slicing open his finger again, he reached into his pocket and pulled out another.
“Wrap it up in a hanky or something,” said Slythe.
Tommy reached for a sock.
Slythe went white and shook out his hanky. It was silk, and printed with a copy of the Mona Lisa. “No, no, take mine, I insist.”
My full book-cookbook can be found here. Let me know what you’d like me to look at next – and as always, take this recipe with a pinch of salt.