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Simone Soltani: Combining a Love of Sports and Romance

Simone Soltani: Combining a Love of Sports and Romance

I have a confession to make: I haven’t always been a diehard Formula 1 fan.

I know, I know, that might as well be blasphemy coming from an author whose debut novel, Cross the Line, is a Formula 1 sports romance. But it’s the truth. Only in the past decade have I followed the motorsport series closely. Before that, I would glance at the Championship standings every so often and catch highlights of races, but that was the extent of it. Something shifted for me in 2014, though, and made me pay more attention. It was the year that Lewis Hamilton won his second World Championship.

I can’t say I remember much from when he burst onto the F1 scene in 2007 (I was a young teen at the time, you’ll have to forgive me) but I was aware of him for one simple fact—he was Black. More specifically, he was biracial, similar to myself. Formula 1 is unfortunately not the most diverse sport, from the drivers all the way down to the factory workers, so to see a driver who looked like me not just participating in races but winning them was intriguing. And when he secured his second championship title, I was fully hooked. I’ve rarely missed a race since.

In addition to being a Formula 1 fan, I’m also a long-time lover of romance novels. I’ve been writing them since I was 14 and reading them for even longer (don’t tell my parents). When I stumbled upon my first sports romance, it was like a new world had opened up before me. You mean to tell me that I could combine my love of sports and my love of romance? It was almost too good to be true.

In the years since, I’ve read a lot of sports romance novels, with main characters ranging from football stars to golf prodigies, though hockey seems to be the dominating sport in the genre. Books that featured Formula 1 and other motorsports, however, were few and far between. When I realized I couldn’t find enough of what I wanted to read, it felt like I had one option—I had to write it myself. Especially if I wanted to see sports romance featuring marginalized characters, which I also couldn’t seem to find enough of.

So I set out to do exactly that—write a romance about my favorite sport featuring diverse characters. Our leads, Dev and Willow, are both biracial. Willow even shares my own hypermobility diagnosis, where our joints move beyond the normal range and can cause pain.

But most importantly, I wanted to write something fun. Something light-hearted and exciting and an all-around good time. When I set out to write this book, I was grieving the sudden loss of my mother and a life turned upside down. I needed an escape, something bright to focus on when the dark threatened to creep in. With Cross the Line, I poured the things I loved onto the page, like romantic Bollywood movies, an abundance of macarons, and wickedly fast cars.

I hope that love shines through.

Cross The Line is published by Pan on 23 May 2024

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