From Roller Derby Girl to Bestselling Author—Meet Elicia Hyder!
My new book, Lights Out Lucy, which just went on sale this week, begins with the sentence, “It’s not a matter of if you get hurt but of how bad and when.” And let me tell you, I have the injury list to back that statement. Actually, it would be easier to name the parts of my body that weren’t injured when I played roller derby, from the day I joined the “Fresh Meat” crew of girls trying out for the Nashville Rollergirls, till the day I hung up my skates…
My new book, Lights Out Lucy, which just went on sale this week, begins with the sentence, “It’s not a matter of if you get hurt but of how bad and when.” And let me tell you, I have the injury list to back that statement. Actually, it would be easier to name the parts of my body that weren’t injured when I played roller derby, from the day I joined the “Fresh Meat” crew of girls trying out for the Nashville Rollergirls, till the day I hung up my skates… But, in addition to the constant bruises and blisters, here’s a list of my major injuries:
- Grade II MCL tear (right knee)
- Torn meniscus (right knee)
- Pulled groin (on the day of team tryouts!)
- A contusion the size of Texas on my left thigh
- Broken finger
- Ripped off the skin of my palms skating in a park one day. Acorns can be a bitch.
But was it worth it? You bet! I gained so much while derby skating, including amazing friends. Many of the girls in my “Fresh Meat” crew had incredible careers. One is a biologist who had played basketball for Vanderbilt. Another is a psychologist with a doctorate from Duke. We also had a senior accountant, a girl who manages a large non-profit, and two girls who worked for the Tennessee Performing Arts. And, yes, we still keep in touch! Sisters for life!
We had so much fun! I guess the funniest thing that ever happened to me was the night of tryouts to make the team. In one of our last tests, I fell (surprise, surprise) and pulled my groin. It felt like I’d given birth on the derby track. Blinding pain, I tell you! The rest of the night, I sat in a chair with an icepack on my hoohah. BUT I had enough points to pass, and I officially made the team!
During the regular season, our team practiced three days a week. Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday. We would have bouts with other teams, usually once a month at home or away. So we skated a LOT, we worked out a lot, and we partied a lot. If you ever have a chance to attend a roller derby after party—go!
So why did I quit skating when it was so much fun? The defining moment was the second time I tore my knee. It happened during an intraleague scrimmage when I was knocked off the track by a skater named Showstopper. She earned her derby name, let me tell you. She’s amazing! My adrenaline had been pumping so hard that I didn’t even realize I was injured until hours later.
At the time, I lived by myself with my two kids in a two-story house, and I could barely make it up and down the stairs on crutches. My husband had died texting while driving when our kids were ages two and four. I had a ton of responsibility, and realized I probably should participate in a safer hobby. Derby was demanding of my time and body, and my kids needed me healthy more.
But what an experience! And my enthusiasm was picked up by my daughter. She joined junior roller derby here in Nashville this year, and I couldn’t be prouder or more excited! It’s such a wonderful sisterhood to be a part of. I’m thrilled for her!
And who knows? Maybe roller derby helped me be the fighter I needed to be when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. But that battle came with an upside, believe it or not. As cliché as it is, cancer taught me not to take tomorrow for granted. I actually got my very first call from an agent with interest in my book, The Soul Summoner, on the same day my doctor called and said, “We think it’s cancer. We need you to come back in for more tests.”
That will go down as one of the most memorable days of my life! I knew then that I needed to publish my book, and cancer gave me the push I needed to do it. All through chemo, I studied the publishing business, and, on the day of my last treatment, I self-published my first novel, The Bed She Made. When it came time to publish The Soul Summoner, I turned down some nice traditional publishing offers in favor of self-publishing. So I can honestly say having cancer was one of the best and worst things to ever happen to me!
Now I write, publish my own books, design the covers, write the back cover copy, develop and produce my book trailers and handle all my social media—yes, that’s me posting in HYDERNATION on Facebook.
I have a fabulous hunky husband, Chris, whom I met in tenth grade high school biology class. He was the quarterback of the football team, and I was the girl with Metallica shirts and blue hair. (Yes, the blue hair goes all the way back to high school.) We became best friends. He joined the military, and I wound up in rehab, and fourteen years later, we got married. He literally proposed before our official first date. And, yes, we’re as happy as we seem. He’s still my very best friend.
To be honest, I’m a friend hoarder. I collect them from all over the world and keep them forever and ever. I do have a tight inner circle of girlfriends I couldn’t do life without. One example is the character of Olivia in Lights Out Lucy. She’s based on my friend, Taylor. Like Olivia, Taylor is one of the most self-sacrificing friends I’ve ever had. It’s fun to be able to recognize her publicly like this. Hey, Taylor, gotcha!
Besides the fun, girlfriend focus and the action-packed world of derby skating, Lights Out Lucy is set against the backdrop of the world of music management. My sister has been in the music business for many years, so in a way, I grew up around it. Hanging out at record labels and management groups fascinated me when I was younger, so I guess I’m writing out a childhood fantasy. Also, living in Nashville, I can easily research that field. There’s a reason they call us “Music City!”
In case you think Lights Out Lucy is all about derby skating, girlfriends and the music business, brace yourself to meet one hell of a sexy guy. Lucy meets West Adler when she runs into his truck one day on her way to work.
Under the circumstances, a lot of men would be furious and condescending, but not West. He and his family are big in the construction business, and West knows from day one Lucy’s not only a sexy chick worth building a relationship with; she’s a woman to respect and admire—while he coaxes her into his bed.
All of you Romance Junkies out there, I LOVE interacting with my readers! It’s one of the highlights of my job. It keeps me busy, for sure, but it’s the one thing I’ll never outsource to anyone else. On HYDERNATION, fans debate plot theories, post fan art and post pictures and memes. I do weekly giveaways of swag and merchandise. There are lots of pictures there of Jason Momoa, too, which is NEVER a bad thing! Hop over and join the group. The HYDERNATION group members will also be the first to learn all the deets about the fun reader events I’m planning with roller derby teams around the country. Hope to see you there! You’ll find the link on my website, www.EliciaHyder.com.
LIGHTS OUT LUCY
By Elicia Hyder
April 24, 2018 Release
Lucy Cooper isn’t looking for love when she finds it—or slams into it, rather—during rush hour traffic. But her heart, like her car, is a total loss the moment West Adler steps out of his truck to inspect the damage.
West truly is the perfect guy: handsome, funny, rich. The benefactor of not one, but two children’s hospitals. And he’s the main sponsor of the Music City Rollers, Nashville’s championship roller derby team.
When Lucy discovers the Rollers are actively recruiting “Fresh Meat,” she puts her life on the line to catch West Adler’s attention. But will accident-prone Lucy skate off with the heart of Nashville’s Most Eligible Bachelor? Or will she get herself killed in a sport that promises, “It’s not a matter of if you’ll get hurt—but of how bad and when.”
Excerpt from LIGHTS OUT LUCY
There was no wait at the urgent-care clinic since we walked in just as the receptionist unlocked the front door. She was eyeing West with a pinched expression, clearly trying to figure out why she recognized him. I had a feeling this would be a common thing if we ended up spending any amount of time together. And, oh, I hoped we did as I watched him sign me in at the check-in desk because my writing hand was out of commission. Our babies would be beautiful, certain to make Bryan with a y and Little
Miss Botox jealous.
“Just fill these out, and we’ll get you right in to see the doctor.” The woman handed West a clipboard filled with papers.
West looked down at the top sheet, then smiled up at me. “Oh, this is going to be fun.” We sat down in the waiting room, and he began to fill out the form. “First name, Lucille. Last name, Cooper. Middle name?”
His eyes widened. “Shut up. Your name is Lucy Lou?”
I snapped my good fingers in front of his face. “Focus, please.”
“April twenty-fourth, nineteen-none-of-your-beeswax.”
He smirked. “You’re what? Thirty-eight?”
Had one hand not already been potentially broken, I might have punched him.
“What’s your address?”
“534 Echelon Way, Nashville 37211,” I answered.
“Don’t tell me you built them.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “No, I didn’t build them, but I do know where they are. Phone number?”
“You have my phone number,” I reminded him.
“Not memorized. I’m not Rain Man.”
I spouted off my phone number.
I gave him my work one. Somehow my lulabean424 address felt too personal. Then I told him my insurance and work information.
He flipped to the second page. “Now we get to the good stuff. Reason for visit. Accident prone.” He cut his eyes over at me, daring me to argue. I didn’t. “Do you smoke?”
“Does anyone in your home smoke?”
“Do you drink alcohol?”
“How many per week?”
“Two a month, maybe.”
He looked up. “It’s a fill-in-the-blank question. Think I should divide?”
I grinned. “Sure.”
“OK. A half a drink per week. Do you have any of the following medical conditions?” He stopped and put his pen down. “Maybe this is too personal for a first date.”
A FIRST DATE?!?!
He said it, not me.
I almost had to fan my face to keep from passing out. Be cool, Lucy. Be cool.
“It’s fine. Go ahead,” I said, trying to keep my voice even and not doing a very good job of it.
He read through a long list of medical conditions to which I answered no. Then he froze—and blushed. “Do you have any STDs?”
I wanted to crawl under my chair and die. “No.”
He breathed a dramatic sigh of relief. “Well, I’m glad we’ve got that over with.” He leaned closer and lowered his voice. “Me either, by the way.”
I doubled over and buried my red face in my arms on my lap. “Oh, my god.”
He was laughing, and he nudged me with his elbow. “Come on, we’ve got to finish this. Do you have any family history of the following: heart disease?”
He stared at me like he was waiting for me to elaborate. I didn’t. With a slight nod, he checked the “Yes” box. “Do you have any allergies?”
“Bees,” I answered.
His face wilted into a mix of sympathy and endearment.
“Aww, I almost feel bad for teasing you about the accident.” He smiled. “Almost.”
“Lucy Cooper?” a woman in purple scrubs said from the door.
I stood, and West looked up at me. “Want me to come or wait out here?”
It wasn’t like I was getting a Pap smear. “You can come if you want to.”
He got up and nodded toward the door. “After you, my lady.”
The nurse took the clipboard and led us back to a small cubicle with half-walls. She took my blood pressure and temperature. Both were normal. “Step up on the scales so I can get your weight,” she said.
My eyes shot to West.
He laughed and crossed his tanned and chiseled arms over his chest. “Seriously? I can hear about your sexual disease history, but can’t see how much you weigh?”
My heart was pounding in my chest. “No. Turn around.”
His eye roll seemed to be the pivot on which his whole body turned. The nurse was trying not to smile. I kicked off my charcoal ankle boots—because every ounce helps—and stepped up on the scale. She wrote down the number, and I quickly stepped off. “You can turn around now,” I said to West as I slipped on my shoes again.
He sighed and shook his head. “Girls are so weird.”
“Follow me,” the nurse said, walking down the hallway.
When we reached the tiny exam room, there weren’t any chairs. West helped me up on the exam table then stood beside me.
“So what happened?” the nurse asked.
“Yeah,” West echoed. “What exactly happened?”
I frowned. “Jana Carter.”
They both exchanged a puzzled glance.
“I was a little mad at my boss, so I slammed the door in my office. Then I thought better of it and tried to catch it.” I held up my bandaged hand. “At least the sound was muffled.”
The nurse unwound the paper towels around my hand. Almost all the ice had melted, and the towels were soaked. She dropped them in the trash and examined my hand. My fingers were frostbite red, but the pain had eased, and there didn’t seem to be any swelling. Slowly, I curled my fingers into a fist. It hurt and my joints were stiff from the cold, but my fingers bent without hindrance.
“No! No! Don’t bend them. Let’s get an X-ray first,” she said. She stood and picked up her notes. “Let’s go take the pictures. Then the doctor will be in.”
She took me down the hall and took two quick X-rays of my hand while West waited in the exam room. When the nurse returned me to him and left us alone, I carefully looked over my hand. “They aren’t broken,” I said, wiggling my fingers again.
“What about your purple middle finger?” he asked.
I looked at it more closely. “It could be a busted blood vessel under the skin.”
“I don’t know. It looks broken to me,” he said.
I shook my head. “It’s not. I’m sure.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Want to put a wager on it?”
I laughed. “Absolutely. What did you have in mind?”
He thought for a moment, and I was thankful for the excuse to stare at him.
“I’ve got it,” he finally said. He gripped the front corners of the exam table on either side of my legs and leaned on his arms toward me. “If it’s broken, you go out with me on Friday, and we do anything I want.”
The temperature in the clinic jumped about a thousand degrees.
I swallowed. “Anything?”
He leaned closer. “Anything.” His tone was dark and dangerous.
The butterflies in my stomach were about to rattle me off the table.
Suddenly, West burst out laughing. “I wish you could see your face right now.”
I hid behind my hands.
He took my wrists and gently pulled them away. “I’m kidding, Lucy. I promise I won’t go all Fifty Shades on you.”
That only made me blush harder.
“Not yet, anyway,” he added with a wink. Then he pointed at my face. “But if I want to eat cereal in my underwear and watch the latest Avengers movie on Netflix, you’re not allowed to judge me.”
I laughed. “OK. What if I win?”
He straightened and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “The same terms. On my dime.”
“Really?” I asked.
He nodded. “Yep. No limits. No budget. We do anything you want.”
I stuck out my good hand and he shook it. “West Adler, you have a deal.”
Elicia Hyder played women’s flat track roller derby with the Nashville Rollergirls under the skater name, eL’s Bells. Elicia hung up her skates to focus on a safer hobby—writing. She has fictionalized her experience in her latest novel, Lights Out Lucy: Roller Derby 101. More novels are to come in the Music City Rollers series.