Hey guys! Today, Mia Sigert author of Jerkbait is stopping by on the blog for an interview with me and to share an excerpt of her book with all of you! I hope you guys enjoy it =)
Jerkbait by Mia Siegert
Published by Jolly Fish Press
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Pre-Order it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Even though they're identical, Tristan isn't close to his twin Robbie at all—until Robbie tries to kill himself.
Forced to share a room to prevent Robbie from hurting himself, the brothers begin to feel the weight of each other's lives on the ice, and off. Tristan starts seeing his twin not as a hockey star whose shadow Tristan can't escape, but a struggling gay teen terrified about coming out in the professional sports world. Robbie's future in the NHL is plagued by anxiety and the mounting pressure from their dad, coach, and scouts, while Tristan desperately fights to create his own future, not as a hockey player but a musical theatre performer.
As their season progresses and friends turn out to be enemies, Robbie finds solace in an online stranger known only as “Jimmy2416.” Between keeping Robbie's secret and saving him from taking his life, Tristan is given the final call: sacrifice his dream for a brother he barely knows, or pursue his own path. How far is Robbie willing to go—and more importantly, how far is Tristan willing to go to help him?
Mia Siegert received her MFA from Goddard College and her BA from Montclair State University where she won Honorable Mention in the 2009 English Department Awards for fiction. Her debut JERKBAIT (a YA coming-of-age thriller) will be released May 2016 by Jolly Fish Press. Siegert has been published in Clapboard House, Word Riot, The Limn Literary & Arts Journal, as well as a few other small presses.
Siegert currently works as an adjunct professor and a costume designer. She enjoys training horses and watching hockey.
Mia: The novel used to be very autobiographical revolving around my toxic relationship with someone I was best friend with since we were four and my encounter with a person who I later would learn became a convicted sex offender. I took feelings from that and incorporated some of my background in the pro-sports world (although I showed horses instead of played hockey). As the story fleshed out and developed, it became less autobiographical, which made me more comfortable, although I can admit that Tristan is a version of me and Heather is that former friend.
Brittany: What kind of research did you have to do to ensure that you had accurate hockey details?
Mia: A lot! I’m a New Jersey Devils season ticket holder, although unfortunately I’ll have to give up my tickets this year, and have been a fan of hockey since I was five (never had a chance to play on the ice, but for floor hockey, to this day, I’ve never lost a face off).
That said, in order to do appropriate research, besides watching hockey, I read a ton of articles written by some top notch hockey writers (including Tom Gulitti) and was able to ask questions from some who also were my friends (such as Dan Rice, Ashley March, and Anthony DiPaolo—who actually read my novel and pointed out a few little boo-boos).
Brittany: What is your earliest hockey-related memory?
Mia: I’m not sure if I have an earliest because hockey has always had warmth in my heart, but one of my best early memories was receiving a letter from Martin Brodeur in 1997. It was a form letter, but he signed it, and it meant everything to me. I still have it!
Brittany: Is there one particular scene that was cut out during the editing process that you wish had made it to the final version of Jerkbait?
Mia: Many! LOL. Possible spoiler warning (I think it’s vague enough though—I hope!) As the novel revolves around hockey, gay teen suicide attempts, and online predators, I wasn’t able to include everything that I wanted to without weakening some of the other areas. The chapter I’m most gutted over having to axe was the “non-con brother handjob” scene. We kept it as long as we could before, tragically, saying goodbye to it. (It’s still saved on my computer, but… Guh. What a heartbreak for me!)
I also had to cut a lot of the make outs Tristan had with other characters because it would have taken away from Robbie’s story and his struggle.
But I want to do some fun incentive. If I get to 2000 adds on Goodreads before the May 3rd release, after the release, I will post a deleted scene. If I get to 3000 adds on Goodreads before the release, I will write a little short story from one of the other characters’ POVs, maybe a reader’s choice.
Brittany: What is one thing that would make you automatically DNF a book?
Mia: Writing style and plausibility. If something’s implausible, I just… I can’t. It makes me actually really angry. If the writing isn’t fantastic, ugh.
Usually I’ll DNF a book after the first chapter if it’s not working. I really don’t see the point of wasting my time on a book I don’t enjoy considering the billions of books out there that I would.
Brittany: What are you some of your favorite YA novels?
Mia: I know I’ve been talking about this title a LOT, but Laurie Elizabeth Flynn’s Firsts is absolutely astounding. Just… wow. It’s fearless and it left me breathless.
I’m a huge fan of Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and All the Rage by Courtney Summers. Butter by Erin Jade Lange was bold and astounding and one of the only books that made me immediately want to dive into it again. I also really loved Tess Sharpe’s Far From You.
Brittany: If you could pick any three hockey players to read your book, who would you pick, and why?
Mia: Talk about a tough one, why don’t you? :) It’s hard to limit my response to three, so I tried to pick players who we might sometimes gloss over.
Jordin Tootoo (New Jersey Devils): Considering his brother’s tragic suicide, I’d love if he ever were to pick up a copy of Jerkbait as the intent is to help prevent these irreversible tragedies from occurring.
Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets): Besides issues of homophobia, racism is brought up in Jerkbait, such as how Durrell is the only black player on the team and how Tristan’s mother is leery of him dating a black girl (keeping identity a secret intentionally because spoiler!). As Byfuglien is a black player who has clearly faced adversity, I think he’d have some interesting perspective.
Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche): He was one of the players who really made You Can Play, and its inclusion of at least one official spokesperson for all 30 teams possible. He is a proud ambassador of diversity in sports and LGBTQ inclusion.
Brittany: Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why?
Mia: I identify with both Tristan and Robbie. As I previously mentioned, Tristan was originally based on myself, but the depression, anxiety, and pressure Robbie faces as an athlete is something I identify with extremely well. So a weird blend of them. Also a bit of Raiden, with his cowardice and compassion—how he’s sweet but unsure.
I -wish- I’d identify more with Keisha because she is absolutely kick ass. Way more kick ass than me. I aspire to be like her, but I’m not there yet.
Brittany: Books involving hockey are very rare, especially in YA. Do you have a favorite one that you could recommend?
Mia: To be honest, I haven’t yet read a YA that deals with hockey mostly because I recently changed age range/genre stuff (used to only write experimental literary fiction). But, in relation to sports in YA, Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert is really superb (it revolves around baseball and the upcoming MLB Draft).
For hockey books, though, I really am enjoying Jeremy Roenick’s memoir J.R.
For TV shows, Disney’s “Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series” is shockingly incredible. They have a lot of references to other teams, a few conference digs toward Dallas, and even a reference to Martin Brodeur, who became the unnamed goalie on the “Hoboken Flamingos” who they “just couldn’t get anything past.” In order to win the game (since I mean, cartoon, so of course the Ducks have to win), they had to shoot the puck so hard, the goalie went flying through the goal cage.
For hockey movies, you can’t go wrong with Goon.
Brittany: What is one thing that you would like your readers to take away from Jerkbait after they finish reading it?
Mia: For teens: to not be afraid to seek help. To speak out. To know they’re not alone, and that mental health is more critical than draft ranking.
For parents: to notice the warning signs. To step back from being a “coach,” and become (and remain) a parent. The kids are already mature as young professionals—encourage them to be kids. Make them go out with friends, make them take a day or two off a week. Give them hugs.
We shifted our weight from skate to skate while we waited in the tunnel that led from the locker room to the ice. Leading our pack would be Janek, our starting goalie who was brought to our school on full scholarship plus stipend from the Czech Republic, and bringing up the tail was Ray-Ray, our back up. Most high school teams were less formal than ours, but parents got what they paid for. With Briar Rose’s obscene tuition, parents expected the best. We had an NHL-size arena that could hold up to two thousand spectators, enormous locker rooms, showers, and fitness lounges. Students sang the national anthem, announced the play-by-play, and picked which songs to blast during stoppage of play. It might have been high school hockey, but we were so good we usually filled every seat.
Robbie tapped everyone on the shin with his stick, proudly wearing the A on his chest. At the start of the season, Dad lost his shit when Robbie wasn’t given captaincy; instead, he shared the role of alternate, but Robbie said it was better that Beau got it. He and Coach Benoit told Dad it was to make him look humble to scouts, but I’d overheard them talking once. Robbie begged to not be given the C, and Coach only gave in once Robbie started getting hysterical.
A horn blared. It was time. Lights flashed across the ice as Janek burst through the gate, leading us in a fast lap around half of the arena. We sped after him, torsos ducked as people cheered. We recognized our schoolmates’ faces, their flat palms pounding on the glass as we passed. Once their cheering turned to booing, we didn’t need to look to know the other team was here. Tonight we were against Neshanic High. They were always a shoe-in for playoffs with some really huge defensemen.
Defense won championships, everyone knew that. While our defense was just as good, we needed our offense to out-skate them. We needed Robbie to beat them.
All our teammates who weren’t starters slipped off the ice to the bench. I lingered, glancing at Coach who nodded for me to stay on. It was a gimmick having me on the starting line-up, especially when I’d end up playing less than seven minutes a game, but coach thought it might intrigue scouts and give them ideas, like with the Sedin twins.
Overhead, one of the broadcasting kids called, “ At left wing, number nine, Raideeeeeen Hollennnnn.” I don’t remember a time when Raiden and Robbie weren’t on the same line. They were a dynamite duo on the ice and best friends off it, earning them the Rail Road Line nickname, which I thought was really dumb. Raiden grinned crookedly at my brother as the announcer said, “ At center, number sixteen, Robbbbbbiiiiieee Bettterrrrby!”
The crowd erupted for my brother, crazy enough for us to feel the vibration through our skates. Most of the guys were good, several would be drafted, but Robbie was the one who was signing autographs already. Robbie didn’t soak the attention up. Up until a year ago, he used to engage the crowd, showboat a bit. Now, he gazed ahead at the American flag, grin removed from his face, eyes narrowed in concentration, or prayer.
Their cheering didn’t die as the seconds passed. I doubt anyone heard the announcer call me—Tristan Betterby, number forty-eight, at right wing.
I looked at my twin as the announcer moved to our defense—Smitty and Durrell, and finally Janek, who elicited a roar as loud as Robbie’s. Janek wouldn’t be draft-eligible for another year, but if he was, it’d be a coin toss whether he or Robbie would be drafted first.
“ And now,” the announcer continued, “ to sing our national anthem, let’s welcome Keisha Lewis.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Keisha was a really great singer and one of the few in the theatre program who already committed to the New School as a junior. We had the same circle of friends, and now shared an acting class ever since I grew the balls to enroll in the one that started in January, but we never hung out on our own. Heather was always there.
Keisha wore one of Robbie’s spare jerseys. She was tall, but the jersey dwarfed her. The red complemented her dark skin and hair, today styled out and around her head like a halo, but the bulkiness of the jersey combined with her skinny jeans and tall boots made her look like she was wearing a poncho.
She waited for all of us to take our helmets off before she took a breath and began. If I wasn’t on the ice, I’d be cheering her on as she belted, “ And the rockets red glare,” the way everyone else in the stands did.
As Keisha finished, there was extra commotion. I turned my head to see the rest of the theatre kids there, whooping and hollering Keisha’s name. I couldn’t have missed them in warm-ups; they must have come late and wormed their way to the glass. Heather stood in the front next to Craig, one of the best dancers in the theatre program and the leader of the self-dubbed “Gay-Bros.” Heather waved at me and mouthed something I couldn’t read. Craig pulled his shirt up and pressed his bare chest to the glass. I tried not to laugh as I put my helmet back on, double-checking to make sure the cage was secure before I took my position at Robbie’s side. It was time to buckle down.
The referee moved between Robbie and the opposing center. They kept their heads low, coiled, ready to spring.
As soon as the puck dropped, Robbie was on it. He sent the puck back from the face off to Smitty as Durrell rammed one of their forwards into the boards. I was already rushing down the ice. I might not have been the best player on our team, but I was fast as hell.
Smitty fed the puck to Raiden, who tapped it back toward Robbie. Barely two steps, and Robbie sent it back to Raiden. We’d practice this play hundreds of times. I’d scoot up the outside and slip in, giving it my best slap shot with Robbie there to catch the rebound while Raiden screened the goalie. If the goalie knocked the rebound out, Raiden would do everything he could to shove it in. We had a sixty-one percent success rate.
“ Tristan!” Raiden yelled as he passed me the puck.
The puck connected with my stick and I took off toward goal. The crowd got louder the closer I got to the goalie. The sound of cheering and screaming was addictive. Thinking of the game as a performance revved me up.
The goalie made his move, scooting forward out of the crease, glove out. I envisioned the goal, just high of his blocker. Flashing lights, everyone cheering, especially Heather, who afterward might give me a congratulatory kiss. I pulled my stick back for a slap shot.
“ TRISTAN! HEADS UP!” my brother screamed.
The hit came so fast, I didn’t know what direction it came from. My feet left the ice and I flipped onto my back, sliding until I slammed into the boards, hard. From the ice, I saw who hit me: a six-foot-three defender named Kris Jones who was just coming off a seven-game suspension. It might as well have been a freight train. A sea of booing washed through the arena. I glanced toward one of the refs before getting up to see if he’d call it—he didn’t.
As I scrambled to pick myself up, Robbie scooted between players, puck miraculously in his possession. The goalie moved toward Robbie, challenging him even further out of the crease than he’d done with me. Just like me, Robbie lifted his stick. Tension weighted the air; everyone sucked in a breath. Robbie toe-dragged a good two feet to the side then flicked the puck up top shelf so fast the goalie couldn’t raise his glove.
The goal horn blared. Everyone screamed. Robbie did this little boogie he always did for his goal celly, fists pumping and hips wiggling. I glanced at the scoreboard: not even twenty seconds after the puck dropped, and Robbie already made it 1-0.
My eyes moved to one section of the arena that was sectioned off as an unofficial press box. A lot of scouts were typing away at their laptops, a few on their mobiles. I scanned the crowd. Our parents would be watching somewhere. At least our dad would be watching; Mom would be on her iPhone. I couldn’t see either.
We circled Robbie, tapping each other on the helmet and back before Robbie led us to the bench, fist bunched and bumping past the other players.
“ Good choice, Robbie,” Coach said, rubbing and clapping his shoulders. “ Smart move.”
I sat on Robbie’s other side. Coach looked at me and gestured down toward the end of the forwards. I slid to the end of the bench. I’d be on the fourth line for the rest of the game.
“ It’s all right, Butter,” Coach said once we changed lines.
Everyone on the team had at least one nickname. If you were really good, sometimes you had two or three. I wouldn’t have minded Butter if it weren’t for the reason. When we were freshmen, our then team captain said, “ We should call you guys Butter and Margarine.”
“ What? Margarine?” Robbie had asked. “ Why the hell am I margarine?”
“ Because,” he’d said with a grin, “ you’re Better Than Butter.”Excerpted from JERKBAIT by Mia Siegert. Copyright © 2016 by Mia Siegert. Excerpted by permission of Jolly Fish Press, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Thanks for stopping by Mia, enjoy this gif xD