MAN v FAT coach sees first book published
MAN v FAT Bournemouth coach Steve Couch is a man of many talents.
Not only has he built a thriving community on the south coast with over 60 guys participating, but he is also about to see his first ever book hit the shelves.
He told us all about his life as an author and his time as a MAN v FAT coach so far.
1) How did you come to get started as an author?
I’ve worked as a writer and editor for the last 22 years, mainly producing online educational resources. For several years I had a job watching mainstream Hollywood films on DVD, identifying relevant clips and writing secondary school RE Lessons that drew on the themes of the clips. In essence, I was being paid for watching films.
I started writing fiction in my spare time about 15 years ago, first of all writing children’s stories (inspired by the books I was reading to my own sons) and more recently writing novels for adults. Over that time I had some encouraging comments in amongst the standard rejections (though an encouraging rejection is still a rejection!) and worked hard at learning lessons from each project. Finally, in January of this year, someone – my publishers, the Book Guild – said yes and everything changed.
2) What was it that made you want to write this book in particular?
Dead Man Singing tells the story of a has-been rock star who fakes his death to boost his record sales, then goes out on the road as his own tribute act. It was inspired when I remembered a song – Now That I Am Dead – that I saw Richard Thompson perform in concert back in the early 90s. The song is from the perspective of a dead musician complaining that it’s only after his death that he finally starts making a living. There was something about the idea that grabbed hold of me, prompting me to put aside another story that I was working on and throw everything into this one instead. I’m glad that I did!
3) What can people buying the book expect from the story within?
It’s a fast-paced, character-led thriller with lots of twists and turns, and a cracking soundtrack. I’ve tried to make the music an integral part of the storytelling, with particular songs working to highlight aspects of the main character as well as providing key turning points in the plot. You don’t have to be a music fan to enjoy the book, but if you are it will definitely add an extra dimension while reading. There are a couple of Spotify playlists that accompany the book too, if anyone wants to explore the musical side of things further.
4) How do you manage to balance the rest of your work with finding time to be creative?
It’s a juggling act. MAN v FAT Bournemouth takes place on Friday nights, and during the rest of the week I lead lunchtime and after-school clubs at local Primary schools as a football coach, so writing has to fit into the gaps around that. Right now, I’m close to finishing a second novel (with a football theme this time) and I’m looking to juggle my coaching commitments to make more time during the week for writing. Having finally made a breakthrough after all these years, I want to pick it up and run with it as far as I can. I’ll not be cutting back on MAN v FAT though.
5) How have you found your time as a MAN v FAT coach so far?
I’ve been the coach at Bournemouth since January 2022 and I’ve loved every minute of it. I decided that it wasn’t fair to put the lads through the scrutiny of weekly weigh-ins if I wasn’t willing to do the same myself, and I’ve lost more than 20kg since starting – I’m in the 20% club and hoping to shift a few more kg to get my 25% milestone.
At age 55 I’m the fittest I’ve been in more than 20 years, and I really look forward to my Friday evenings meeting up with everyone. Before I became a writer and editor, I was a full-time Youth Worker for ten years. I often joke that MAN v FAT is like being a Youth Worker again, but now my youth group is made up of middle-aged fat blokes (though some of the lads at Bournemouth would, quite rightly, object to being called middle-aged!). I love the interaction each week with the players and the way that relationships have grown over the time I’ve been there. I’ve made a lot of good friends through coaching MAN v FAT.
6) Tell us a bit about the community you’ve built at MAN v FAT Bournemouth?
I’m so proud of how well the lads have done. We’re currently in the sixth season since I started coaching and in that time we’ve had six players – and counting – hit maintenance, along with a steady stream of milestones big and small. One of our players has lost 40% of his starting weight, and there are plenty of others who are several milestones deep on their journey.
The thing that strikes me most is how welcoming the group is. The standard of play – as with most MAN v FAT clubs – is higher than a lot of people expect, but the weaker players are never made to feel that they don’t belong. When I go down to the pitch to watch the last game of the night, I’m often struck by the constant support and encouragement that the less able players get, not only from their team mates but also from members of other teams watching from the sidelines.
Everyone wants everyone else to find their place and grow in confidence. Although the football gets very competitive, by and large everyone remembers that winning and losing on the pitch is secondary to what happens on the scales (well, most of the time!). There are lads in the group who have genuinely changed their lives for the better through MAN v FAT and it’s a huge privilege to be there to witness that.
Want to join Steve’s MAN v FAT group in Bournemouth? Sign up here today!