Olympic silver medallist, Jamie Baulch and Dame Rosemary Butler, Presiding Officer at the National Assembly for Wales, were among the VIP guests at the official launch of Over The Line, the first novel by Freshwater’s chief executive and founder, Steve Howell.
Taking place at the Priory in Caerleon, a venue that features heavily in the book, Freshwater’s clients, staff, friends and industry peers gathered together to toast the debut novel, which was published at the beginning of the month.
Over The Line explores the issue of drugs in sport and the deadly culture of steroid abuse for image-enhancing body-building.
It follows Welsh athlete Megan Tomos in the lead up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Megan is the favourite to win Gold in the sprint hurdles, but her ambitions are threatened when the police reopen an investigation into the steroid-related death of a school friend, Matt Davies – and it emerges that Megan has been less than truthful.
Dame Rosemary Butler led the celebrations and paid tribute to the novel and its writer, saying: “I’m delighted to be here. Steve has written this amazing, interesting book, and being in the hotel where it all takes places is really great”.
The novel has been well received by sports stars and in the media. Jamie Baulch said it had him “gasping with its surprises from the first page”, while broadcaster and author, Jamie Owen, called it “a gripping tale from a masterful storyteller”.
Nigel Walker, former Olympic hurdler and Welsh rugby international, now National Director of the English Institute of Sport, said: “It’s an informed, fast-paced tale of suspicion, bereavement and betrayal that tackles steroid abuse head-on.”
Steve Howell, author and CEO of Freshwater, said: “It was great to see so many friendly faces come out to support the official book launch in the Priory, which is a really evocative setting and backdrop to much of the drama as it unfolds in the book.
“As an author, you’re meant to write about what you know about and, in my first novel, I’ve drawn on my personal experience of sport at all levels, as a participant, sports journalist and PR consultant.
“Over The Line is about both the deadly pressures on teenage boys to use steroids to attain an ever more muscular body and the poisonous affect drug cheating can have on competitive sport at elite levels, undermining everything positive about the role of sport in society.
“I wanted to show how it feels from the inside when a drugs scandal rears its head and casts doubt and distrust across everyone. But it’s ultimately an optimistic book that looks at the issues through the eyes of the narrator, a coach who’s devoted his life to sport and who is passionate about its underlying values.”
Steve Howell’s Over The Line in paperback is on sale via www.steve-howell.com, www.gwales.com and through independent bookstores and Waterstones, priced £7.99. A Kindle edition is also available via Amazon at £4.99.