By SARAH CHAIN
Daily Record/Sunday News
Joelle McClure doesn’t play hockey. And at first, she wasn’t interested in watching it, either. It wasn’t until she spent three years of high school in Germany that she caught the fever from a friend who was in the booster club for a local team.
Now 37, the Fairview Township resident can’t get enough: she holds season tickets to the Hershey Bears games.
That’s where McClure found her inspiration for her young adult novel “Puck Bunny,” which she self-published in April.
“A puck bunny is a young woman — sometimes an older woman — who is much more interested in dating a hockey player than enjoying the atmosphere and having fun as a fan,” McClure said.
They’re a group that the novel’s main character, Sammi, can’t stand. She’s a talented hockey player in a family absorbed in the sport — her father owns the Devils, a minor league team that her brother also plays on. But Sammi is reeling from the death of her mother and a recent ankle injury.
“I wanted to create a character who was suffering,” McClure said. “She lost her mother, and she’s having a very hard time connecting with her father. She’s lost her main connection to him, which is hockey, because she got injured.”
As Sammi tries to find her place, she befriends Tara, the daughter of the Devils’ owner — and a bonafide puck bunny.
“(The idea) came from going to all the hockey games and finding it very humorous to watch the … puck bunny behavior,” McClure said.
But it’s also a coming of age story, she added.
The novel was McClure’s first attempt at contemporary fiction, a switch from her comfort zone of historical fiction. She found the shift to be easier than expected.
“Writing historical fiction creates a huge amount of research you need to do for everything, from food to idiomatic phrases to clothing … what news is happening at the time in whatever year you’re writing in,” McClure said. “For me, writing (“Puck Bunny”) was just a cakewalk compared to writing anything historical fiction-wise.”
So far, readers’ responses have been positive.
“I’ve had lots of teenage girls in particular telling me how much they like the book,” McClure said.
“It can be quite time consuming, working on your own,” McClure said. “That’s definitely the benefit of going with a big publisher — they are helping to create buzz on your book.”
That’s her plan for her next novel, a historical fiction story titled “Hope Concealed.”
The story follows a 17-year-old German girl whose parents are falsely accused of sympathizing with the Allies in World War II. When her parents are arrested, the girl is sent to work as a housekeeper for an officer in the German army, a job she’s determined to escape from.
“Each time (I revise), I get closer and closer to signing a contract with a publishing house or agent,” McClure said. “But it hasn’t happened yet.”
Still, she’s aiming to publish through an established company rather than go it alone again.
“I just want to write,” McClure said. “I want somebody else to handle all the other aspects.”
Name: Joelle McClure
Lives in: Fairview Township
Family: Husband, Rob; daughter, 12; twin boys, 4
Hobbies:Fashion, reading, watching hockey
Online: Search for “Puck Bunny” on Facebook or “Joelle McClure” at www.goodreads.com