Sunday, 2 November 2014

An Interview with Helen Summer re: her new book Mental


Helen Summer
Summer 2013 was just stirring when my publisher invited me to write a book with the working title: ‘The Toughest, Bloodiest and Hardest (sporting) Challenges in the World’. Only trouble was he wanted it written in four months.

So my first job was to negotiate an extension. Two months was granted and I began my Internet research, discovering hundreds of events that might qualify for such a book. I needed to find a way to limit these, so decided to include only those that complimented one another and could be done as single events or combined to make others. For example, swimming, running and cycling, which together form a triathlon.

In keeping with the working title, the book should only include the toughest events, but as I hadn’t taken part in any of them, how could I know which these were? So I consulted sporting friends, who put me in touch with those who knew. This was a real coup as I was able to glean far more intimate details about events than would have been possible using only the Internet. Even better, my contacts allowed me to reproduce extracts from their blogs, and also provided photos.

This gave the book its human element – a first hand account of someone’s 140-mile lone run along the world’s highest motorable road in India or their cross-Channel swim complete with jelly fish - providing a real insight into the emotional and physical highs and lows, the mental battles, and the ultimate satisfaction of overcoming these to cross the finish line.

With each new, tougher event I discovered, I found myself shouting, ‘That’s mental!’ and jokingly told my publisher I’d renamed the book ‘Mental!’

‘I love it!’ said John, and that was that - ‘Mental!’ was born and thrust its way out into the world on 3rd July 2014.

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