Grass courts, tennis whites and the fiercest competition in the world. Wimbledon. After two crazy weeks in Paris, the girls of the Outer Banks Tennis Academy are headed to London with just one thing on their minds: winning. Indiana Gaffney is fresh off a surprise win at the French Open junior tournament. Sponsors are clamoring for her attention, but what she wants more than anything—aside from a wild card to Wimbledon—is to be with Jack Harrison, but international fame and a secret relationship rarely mix well. When Penny Harrison dreamed of playing at Wimbledon she never imagined agonizing pain shooting through her ankle with every step. With just a month until the tournament and the whole world expecting her to win, she’s determined to play, with or without the support of her coach or the love of her life, Alex Russell. For the first time ever, no one expects anything from Jasmine Randazzo. After a crushing first-round defeat in the French Open juniors, the tennis world has given up on her, but worse than that, so have her parents, her best friend Teddy and maybe even her coach. With everyone writing her off, can she find it within herself to go after her dreams?
Sometimes as an author, you make all these grand plans for your characters. She’s going do this or he’s going to say that, this’ll be the eventual outcome. There are outlines and synopses, running things past your agent and your editor, getting feedback from beta readers (or in my case my little sister who bugs me for updates), but in the end, what you realize is that your characters are in control.
I’ll give you an example. In my first book, GAME. SET. MATCH. Penny Harrison, tennis’s new golden girl, wasn’t supposed to take any notice whatsoever of the new recruit coming to train at the Outer Banks Tennis Academy, Indiana Gaffney. Indy would be training with the junior girls and would be totally off Penny’s radar, but as the story developed, Penny’s voice was in my head during Indy’s scenes, muttering about how she’d want to help out the new girl, save her from the freeze-out perpetrated by the other girls jealous of Indy’s natural abilities, how she wouldn’t want Indy to suffer in the same way she had when she first got to OBX.
Those little mumblings by a fictional character in my head somehow developed a backstory for her, one that I hadn’t even considered before sitting down to write the book, since it had all happened four years before the start of the story and it sent GAME. SET. MATCH. on a trajectory that it was never supposed to travel. It forced me to introduce a character, Indy’s love interest and Penny’s older brother, Jack Harrison, an entire book early and created two of the most popular relationships in the OBX series, Penny and Indy’s friendship, a saving grace for both girls and Jack and Indy’s romance, something that wasn’t supposed to happen AT ALL.
It’s amazing how one little writing decision, to have Penny give Indy a little pep talk in the locker room, completely changed three whole books for the better!
Jennifer Iacopelli was born in New York and has no plans to leave...ever. Growing up, she read everything she could get her hands on, but her favorite authors were Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M. Montgomery and Frances Hodgson Burnett all of whom wrote about kick-ass girls before it was cool for girls to be kick-ass. She got a Bachelor's degree in Adolescence Education and English Literature quickly followed up by a Master's in Library Science, which lets her frolic all day with her books and computers, leaving plenty of time in the evenings to write and yell at the Yankees, Giants and her favorite tennis players through the TV.