AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Monica Seles Talks New Novel

If you’re a fan of Gossip Girl, the odd love triangle and a whole LOAD of teen drama – then you might want to check out the latest book from former tennis champion turned bestselling author Monica Seles.

The Academy: Game On, is the first in a new series of books based around Maya, a teenage girl whose dream of becoming a pro tennis player comes one step closer, after she lands a scholarship at The Academy – a prestigious sports complex.

However, all is not as it seems – because as well as dealing with rich kids who aren’t too keen on a penniless upstart outshing them, Maya also finds herself distracted by not just one, but TWO very attractive guys…

We caught up with tennis legend and author Monica Seles to get all the gossip on her latest book, inlcuding exactly who she can imagine playing the oh-so-gorgeous Travis and Jake in a film adaptation.

So, ‘The Academy: Game On’  is about a prestigious sports academy, like the kind you attended when you were younger – is the book based on your real life experiences? 

Oh I wish it was – Maya’s life is far more exciting though! Parts of it are, obviously, but I wish I had as much fun as Maya has in her academy [laughs]. The academies I attended were 110% tennis, there were no boys there was no outside socialization – it was hitting that furry little yellow ball 6-7 hours a day, that was it.

Is it as cut-throat and competitive as the book makes out?

Oh yes. It was pretty cut-throat even back then, when there’s wasn’t the same sponsorship deals to fight over – because there’s always jealousy. Being a teenager away from home like that, we were all kind of thrown into this environment where we had to sink or swim. I was staying in the academy 24/7 with people from all different countries and cultures – it could get pretty intense.

There are so many different aspects in the book – high school drama, tiffs with friends, and even a love triangle, was it fun to write?

Oh I really enjoyed it. I’ve been jotting down ideas for ages, in between matches, when I’m on a plane or whatever – and then a couple years ago I told to my agent: ‘I’ve got something, let’s try’ – because I’m a big believer that if something doesn’t work, hey at least I know I gave it a go. We wanted to give a little insight into the academy – and I think anybody that likes sports or follows sports will really enjoy reading it.

 The book has a bit of Gossip Girl aspect to it, with the rich kids, privileged lifestyle and scheming – are you a fan of the show?

Oh a massive fan. I always loved the books and when the TV series came out I was addicted to that too. Growing up on the Upper East side of New York is just so different to growing up anywhere else, in that tight radius of blocks, with all that money and all the drama that comes with it

In reality is there a divide between the scholarship kids and those with money – Maya has a lot of trouble with that in the book, after all…  

Oh definitely. I mean you have parts of the academy where the scholarship kids live and work, then you have parts where there’s a Mercedes and a Ferrari parked outside the expensive living quarters. That part we see Maya experience, and that does actually happen.

Maya has quite a lot of guy trouble too – was there all that kind of love triangle drama going on when you were at an Academy?

It’s different because there were very few girls at the academy I attended –  sport just wasn’t as popular for young ladies. It’s very different now, sport has empowered young girls and they’re much more likely to want to pursue a career in tennis or whatever. But of course, there were still relationship issues and drama – although not quite to the extent that Maya has to deal with!

If it was made into a film, what actresses or actors could you see playing the main characters? 

Oh boy. I mean, jeez in my ideal world? I’ve always liked Jennifer Lawrence, so I guess I would put her as Maya – she’s got that feisty streak. As for one of her love interests, Travis – I can see that younger guy from Twilight playing him… Taylor Lautner.

OOH, good choice. Talking about the love triangle in the book, is that going to develop in the next book? Can you give a little hint about what to expect?

Yeah I think we’re going to be playing a little more on that – because there’s so many conflicts in there. Maya has got a taste of the glamourous life that, coming from a small town in New York, she’s never experienced before – and that’s changed her too. She realises that as well as playing tennis, you have to play the game – and so we’ll see her being a lot more savvy in the next book.

Are we going to see more of Diego [a THIRD hottie who appears towards the end of Game On] as well?

Yes, that is the goal. He’s one of the most fun characters. He’s one of those characters that when he takes his shirt off the girls go crazy and just nuts. The world is his oyster. He’ll be a ladies man too – obviously!

Finally, which book character would you most like to run off into the sunset with? 

From any book? Well I always loved the Gossip Girl books, even before they were made into a TV series in the US. So maybe one of the guys from that!