YEM Author Interview: D.P. Hardwick chats about learning to write from the heart for his book, The Cup

D.P. Hardwick is the author of The Cup. The Cup follows the bizarre antics of a road hockey game in frigid Canada in the early 70’s when sports were still in the hands of the kids. The book explores a touching, nostalgic story of friendship, teamwork and unlikely heroes. YEM was able to speak with D.P. about his writing process. He also spoke about the character inspirations, and his favorite quote that he wrote in The Cup.

Young Entertainment Mag: Was there a specific moment in your life that you instantly knew you wanted to be a writer?

D.P. Hardwick: Not really a specific moment. I always wanted to write for as long as I can remember, but just didn’t take it too seriously. Then a few years ago, and for reasons I really don’t know, stories started to pester me and wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote them. The Cup was pestering me the most—that’s why I finished it first—and once I had completed my first editing draft, that was it…the feeling left me and hasn’t pestered me since.

YEM: What can you tell us about your book, The Cup?

D.P.: It is a humorous, touching story about a road hockey game and the kids who participated in it on one New Year’s Eve evening in frigid Manitoba, Canada in the early 1970s. There are surprises sprinkled throughout with a good life lesson or two thrown in as well. There are some over-riding important morals and reasons for why I wrote the book in there as well that I hope the readers will be able to pick up on.

YEM: Why did you want The Cup to take place in the 70s?

D.P.: The game described in The Cup was a game that actually occurred on Stewart Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on a New Year’s Eve night in the early 1970s. I wanted all of the innocence, budding friendships and connections that I was making back then to come through in the book. I could even remember the songs that were being played on the radio and at our Friday night community club dances back then and knew that I had to have those songs in the book as well. When I hear some of these songs, it takes me right back to that era and to that particular time!

YEM: What was the writing process like?

D.P.: Extremely enjoyable but also very lengthy as well since I have a regular day job which does not give me a lot of time to devote to writing. I love when I get into a creative period and the ideas and words just start flowing – I live for this!

YEM: What was something that you learned during the writing process of The Cup?

D.P.: I learned probably the best lesson I’ve ever learned related to writing. I learned to write from the heart, not the head. When I try to write something technically perfect, it never seems to come out the way I want it to. However, when I just let it flow from my heart, sometimes I don’t even have to edit it afterwards.

YEM: What is something you hope your readers take away from The Cup?

D.P.: There is a main reason why I wrote the book, but it might totally be a spoiler if I talk about it. If readers walk away thinking that we should give everyone a chance, even if that person isn’t one of the popular kids, to reach out and get to know the so-called outsiders because they just might surprise you, then I would be satisfied that I got my point across. Outside of this, I just hope they enjoy the read…and enjoy the listen!

YEM: Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to become a writer?

D.P.: Yes! Be persistent! Don’t ignore that inner voice that’s telling you that you have a story that needs to be shared. When things get tough, don’t give up. When it becomes difficult, plow your way through it. When it becomes easy and ideas start to flow, don’t stop. Keep writing as much as possible until the next tough patch hits.

YEM: Are any of your characters inspired by people in your personal life?

D.P.: Yes. Some of the characters in The Cup are real people. Dale (Sasquatch) was our next door neighbor and loves the book. Shane (Robbie) and Kelly (Kevin) are my older brothers and also played in the New Year’s Eve game. I would say 99% of the stories I relay in the book really happened; I just may attribute them to other characters.

YEM: Who are some of your favorite authors?

D.P.: Boy, I really have an eclectic taste in books. I’m always reading. I consume books. That’s probably what got me interested in writing. J.R.R. Tolkien for sure! Stephan Donaldson, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Brian Greene, Neil deGrasse Tyson, George Orwell, Elie Wiesel to name just a few…

YEM: Your book has hockey in it. Are you really familiar with the game? Or is it something you had to research about while writing the book?

D.P.: I grew up in Canada and became a huge hockey fan. Although I only played one season of organized hockey as a kid, we played on the street for hours a night all year round. I’m still a huge NHL fan – Go Calgary Flames!!

YEM: What is your favorite quote or scene that you wrote in your book?

D.P.: This is really hard as I lived these stories and they are all so close to my heart. The first chapter I wrote for the book was the Owl Chapter. There are three special chapters that do not have titles and this is one of them, which I call the Owl Chapter. This is about something that really happened to my mom. A Great Snowy Owl landed on her windowsill when she was sick in bed and I attribute it to me, the narrator, in the book. This chapter just flowed out of me and, other than a word here or there, it appears in the book exactly the way I wrote it that first night of writing. One passage I wrote to describe the harsh, unforgiving Manitoba winters reads, “The bitter wind pulling loose snow from cracks in the crust, forming will-o-the-wisp snow snakes that crawl and wriggle across the surface of the crust, looking for holes to crawl back into or rocks to hide behind to escape the torment of the wind. But, alas, finding no refuge, too late to survive the brutal wind, it shrinks and dies before it can reach the haven it was seeking, only to have another take its place.” This chapter is full of these sorts of passages and I really could have chosen any one of them.

YEM: Who is the one person who always reads your work first?

D.P.: My wife, Michelle. She will always be the first person I hand the manuscript to once I dot that last period!

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