Media kit – Betting Game

cover for Betting Game
Betting Game

Jack’s a rising star for an elite soccer academy. But when a slick bookie introduces Jack to illegal gambling, the Beautiful Game turns ugly.

Jack knows how to win. But can he learn how to lose?

Published by Orca Books

Scroll down for:

  • Betting Game synopsis
  • book trailer, reading and author interview
  • reviews
  • author bio
  • where to get the book
  • hi-res images of the book cover and author
  • Q & A with the author

About the story

Jack’s a star player on an elite soccer team. He’s on top of his game, and the Lancers are on top of the league. They’re favoured to win the National Championship.

But the game’s about to change.

A slick bookie wins Jack’s friendship with smooth talk and expensive presents. Then he introduces the teen to illegal betting.

Jack figures gambling will make him rich. He gets hooked on the adrenaline rush. Until his “system” fails and his luck runs out. How could a few losses pile up to a gut-kicking ten grand?

Jack knows how to win. But can he learn how to lose?

Book trailer and videos

Chatting about Betting Game
A reading from Betting Game
Betting Game book trailer

Author bio

Heather M. O’Connor knows all about warming up a keeper. Three of her kids played keep for rep teams. In 2006, after 15 years on the sidelines, the devoted soccer mom bought some cleats and joined a team. She plays defence, like Jack.

Heather is a freelance writer, editor and author. The busy mother of five (and grandmother of two) lives in Peterborough, Ontario with her family and her dog, Pippin.

Her biggest thrill while writing this book was touring the Toronto FC Training Ground. Go, TFC!

Longer bio


“O’Connor will keep the game’s fans close with plenty of in-the-know soccer patter, but she will also draw other readers with the story of Jack’s slow absorption into a gambling…Hard-hitting…and as memorable as a prison tour for young men who think crime is a sport and a joke.” Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced writing has enough soccer action to keep reluctant readers turning the pages, and the gambling intrigue, along with a side plot involving a new player on Jack’s team, adds to the increasing conflict…The tone, dialogue, and emotional stakes ring true. A solid pick for hi-lo sports fiction.” Booklist

“Tight and authentic sports action combined with engaging characters make this title great for sports fans as well as readers who enjoy action and drama.” School Library Journal

How to get a copy of Betting Game

Betting Game is an Orca Sports title. These fast-paced sports stories feature teen characters, exciting plots and easy-to-read language. They’re popular with readers 10 and up, and perfect for reluctant teen readers. A teacher’s guide is often available.

Blue Heron Books

Get your copy at your local bookseller or buy it online.
Chapters Indigo
Barnes & Noble

Blue Heron Books
62 Brock St W, Uxbridge, ON
905-852-4282 Google map

ISBN 978-1459809307



Right-click for hi-res images
Photo credit for author portrait: Jonathan van Bilsen

Q & A with the author

Is Betting Game your first novel?

Yes. But I’ve had 2 short stories and 3 primary readers published.

Why did you write Betting Game?

Betting Game is a story my kids would have loved. We’re all a little soccer-mad here.

Six out of seven of us have played. My husband and daughter have coached. Two of my kids have refereed. I’ve managed their rep teams.

We watch soccer on TV, all of us cheering for different Premiere League and World Cup teams. The only thing that unites us is that we love Toronto FC.

How did you learn about soccer?

Three of my five kids played rep—all keepers—so I’ve spent a lot of time watching them play, warming them up, and kicking balls at them. I didn’t learn to play myself until I was in my 40s, but I love it.

What else do you write?

I’ve written everything from magazine stories and websites to speeches for the Minister of Natural Resources. I love being a writer. I’m always learning about something interesting.

Currently, I’m working on 2 novels. One is a YA fantasy. The other is historical fiction. And the plots for 2 more Orca books are also bubbling in my head.

What was one of your favourite parts of writing the book? Or how did you research it?

I visited the Toronto FC KIA Training Ground. It’s a state-of-the-art soccer facility and home to TFC and their academy teams. I met Greg Vanney, head coach of Toronto FC and director of TFC Academy.

On my tour, I saw the academy locker rooms, the dining rooms, the screening room, the cardio and weights studio and the treatment rooms. I even got a through-the-window peek at the first team dining room. I also watched academy teams practise on the outdoor fields.

How did you learn about gambling?

I don’t gamble. I won’t even bet a quarter on a card game. So I interviewed the country’s top expert in match-fixing and illegal gambling. Good thing I did. After talking to him, I completely rewrote Luka, my bookie. A beta reader who actually knows a bookie was floored that I got Luka so right–he knows I don’t bet. But he wishes I’d made Luka Italian, like him!