- the first person narrator. This is a turn-off for a surprising number of people; personally, I feel that if it was good enough for Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens, it’s good enough for me.
- the swearing. There was a bit of effing and blinding in Speak Its Name; there’s a whole lot more in A Spoke in the Wheel, for the simple reason that this one isn’t coming from the point of view of an Evangelical Christian with a very good reason for keeping a close watch on what comes out of her mouth.
- our hero isn’t falsely accused. Oh, yes, he is accused, but it isn’t falsely. This isn’t really a spoiler, as he admits to his doping history in the second line. However, if you were looking for a squeaky-clean athletic Adonis forced to fight to clear his name, you won’t find him here.
- a disabled character who has a sex life and actually quite likes being alive.
- it’s very political. This was meant to be a gentle, fluffy, boy-meets-girl romance, but with characters I could actually believe in. It turned out political. Everything I write turns out political. One of these days, I keep saying, I will write a gentle, fluffy book with no politics in it, but it hasn’t happened yet.
- not the sort of politics I wrote about last time. Barchester this ain’t. This time we’ve got the hell that is the benefits system, the social model of disability, zero hours contracts; the fine line between carrying out an effective boycott and depriving oneself of one’s vital goods and services; and whether sport can ever really be ethical. There’s not a monstrance or a worship committee in sight. (Maybe next time…)
To which all I can say is, oh well. I’ve enjoyed writing it. Some people have enjoyed reading it; and some others may enjoy reading it too. And really, that’s all you can say of any book.