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INSPIRATION BEHIND RON: The Squash-Playing Character of THE HEART CODE Novel

The character Ron was inspired by an actual Squash Champion: Mark Talbott. I met Mark through a his wife Michelle Djokic, with whom I created the Concordia Chamber Series in New Hope PA. As Michelle and I became friends, I got to know her family. The Character Ron has many of Mark's traits and history. He is the youngest of 6 childern. He was "to the manor" born. He began playing squash very young, on a court in their home (funny stories about that fact). He began his squash career on the amateur circuit, winning championship after championship until he finally had to retire to give anyone else a chance. Like Ron, Mark is a gentle man - off and on the court. There are stories about his losing a tooth on the court (from a ball smashed by his opponent) which he simply picked up, pocketed, and resumed playing. Mark is a legend in the sport. We shall see, in the sequal, if Ron matches his accomplishments. Mark left the circuit to coach women's squash at Yale and subsequently moved to Stanford to do the same .... where he now coaches mens and women's squash and is building a strong reputation for Stanford Squash. Mark loaned to me the most boring book I've ever read cover to cover about the history of amateur squash - but it gave me a lot of fodder to be able to write authentically about the sport ... and it's antics. While I completely made up the "Atlantic Coasts" ocean dip tradition, it is in keeping with the spirited high-jinks the sports participants and fans hold dear. Thanks, Mark. You were a great inspiration!

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