I don’t often get queries for Boosting the Signal from authors I don’t already know–but this one came to me from Sharon Black, who approached me asking for help promoting her debut romantic comedy. “But Anna,” I hear you cry, “you don’t read contemporary romance!” That’s true, usually. But I’ll cheerfully say that a) she did catch my interest talking about how this one’s set at a newspaper, and I do have a personal history involving newspaper employment, b) Ireland is always a win, and c) her cover’s rather adorable. So let me turn this over to Sharon’s protagonist Charlie, who’d like to have a word with you all! Because she’s definitely a girl with some goals.
AN OPEN LETTER TO READERS OF BOOSTING THE SIGNAL, FROM CHARLOTTE ‘CHARLIE’ REGAN, THE PROTAGONIST IN GOING AGAINST TYPE.
My name is Charlotte. My friends and colleagues at the paper usually call me Charlie, so you can too. I’m a 29 year old Dublin girl. Most importantly, I’m a sports reporter for a national Irish newspaper, Ireland Today.
Which isn’t easy. I mean, the work is fine. Better than fine. It’s great. I adore sports. Even wanted to be a professional soccer player, until I injured myself. And I’m not afraid to go after the big stories. I’m surrounded by men—they do dominate sports reporting. So I have to prove myself.
And a few weeks ago, it paid off! The editor gave me a shot at writing the new sports column, Side Swipe. It’ll be written anonymously—which is fine by me. For the moment.
I can almost feel the other reporters looking over my shoulder. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are great. Recently, some of us even spent a weekend in the West of Ireland, surfing in the Atlantic. Loved it!
But any reporter worth his salt would do pretty much anything to get his own column.
What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ll tell you what this one’s going to do. Write the best damned column I can. Week after week. Which is why it has to be spiky and sharp and controversial. No holds barred. What I have I got to lose?
Only the column! Because if I’m not careful, I’ll lose it to somebody who thinks they’ve earned it, just because they’ve been here the longest.
And when I’ve put my stamp on it, they’ll have to give me a by-line, right? Because by then, they won’t want to let me go.
Which would be straightforward enough, if a rival columnist hadn’t declared war! No sooner had my first column appeared, than The Squire let loose on me. The Squire is the gossip columnist at The Irish People. I don’t know who he is, of course, because his scathing column is anonymously written. But I loathe him.
A couple of years ago, he went to town on a friend of mine, when her marriage was in trouble. Her celebrity husband had been having an affair, and that despicable man at The Irish People ran the sordid details for weeks in The Squire.
Anyway, he had the nerve to attack me! I had merely pointed out the stupidity of professional footballers, getting involved with big brand sponsorship. Fashion, in particular. I mean, I’m a huge sports fan. I’m just getting a bit tired of seeing my football heroes modelling briefs. Not to put too fine a point on it, I only want to see balls going into the back of the net!
But back to The Squire. Whoever he is, he’s picked the wrong girl for a fight. Because, as I said before, this girl isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
Thing is, the whole thing has escalated, and it’s turned into this weekly war of words. It seems everyone is following us. Broadcast media, social media, you name it. Which is a lot of pressure!
Of course, I’m absolutely determined to win. There is no way I’m going to let this arrogant slime, whoever he is, get the better of me.
The other exciting thing that’s happened, is that I’ve met somebody. He is seriously hot! Derry Cullinane. Tall (the guy must be a foot taller than me), dark and dapper. He’s actually a fashion writer for The Irish People. Which is a bit weird, I must admit. But this man is not only comfortable in his own skin, I think he actually enjoys being surrounded by women. Although maybe it’s not that shocking. He’s definitely a bit of a player.
Funny thing about our first meeting. I was covering Ladies Day at The Galway Races, and this guy steps back on my foot. He apologised, but he had the cheek to suggest that I might have been standing too close to him! Anyway, when I bumped into him again later that day, he told me he’d read Side Swipe‘s racing tips and had lost €1000!
He asked me straight out who wrote Side Swipe, by the way. I told him I hadn’t a clue. Pretended I was just there to write about the fashion. There was no way I was owning up to getting that one wrong!
I nearly blew it though. We met a few weeks later, through mutual friends. When he told me he worked for The Irish People, I started ranting about how much I hated The Squire. You’ve never seen anyone change a topic of conversation so fast. It’s a wonder he asked me out at all.
I don’t really understand why he did. You have no idea, we are complete opposites. I just don’t think I’m his type at all.
But right now, I deserve a bit of fun in my life.
And after my last boyfriend, I have no intention of getting hurt again.