Hello again. I’m back to my blog after another long hiatus. Sometimes life just gets too hectic . . . but I'll try to do better.
For now, I want to share a new experience I recently had when I was interviewed on a radio show dedicated to sports. That’s right, me, a writer whose favorite "sports activities" today are walking and line dancing.
However, I loved skating on a local pond when I was growing up in New York and still thrill at the jumps and lifts when I watch elite skaters. Add several years as a skating mom watching my daughter compete, and it seemed natural to set my middle grade novels, Pairs on Ice and Pairs at Nationals, in the competitive world of skating.
The interview, arranged by my publisher Taylor and Seale, was with long-time sportscaster Tracy Dent on his Sports Talk show. The shows airs from a studio in New Smyrna Beach on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on WSBB. By going to you can learn more about his show and about Tracy, who has a long history with sports in Orlando.
One great thing about working with Tracy is that, when I sent him a copy of both books, he actually read them. Not everyone does. He is also totally laid back. “This is a sports talk show,” he told me. “I’ll ask you a few questions and we’ll just talk.” Here are a few samples:
He began with, “I’m not really a skater guy, but I enjoyed both your books, got a nice message out of them for young people because your skaters, Jamie and Matt, faced several challenges . . . you did a really nice job putting that forward, tying sports into life situations.”
It was the perfect lead in to talk about the relationship between sports and life—there are things you learn in sports that help you in other areas. You learn how to get along with people even if you don’t like them. You learn about working hard and how to be a good loser and winner. And finally, you learn about teamwork, and the importance of trust.
For example, in Pairs on Ice, Jamie and Matt bicker constantly, but Jamie still has to trust Matt, that he knows what he's doing and won't drop her when they do a lift. At the same time, Matt has to respect Jamie’s talent, even if she's not like his former partner. We also talked about the non-sports subplot, where Jamie doesn’t want to accept her new stepmother, just as Matt doesn’t want to accept her.
Moving on to Pairs at Nationals, I explained that I wrote the sequel because I didn’t want to leave my characters. In this book, their coach is seriously injured and they have to travel to another rink to train with a new coach. There, Jamie faces immediate hostility from her roommate, which escalates to bullying. She almost decides to quit, until a family emergency teaches her that she has to fight back.
“You have several underlining themes going on here . . .” said Tracy, “and yet it all somehow comes out all right in the end for everybody. That’s a nice challenge, but a nice way to finish,”
“It is,” I agreed. “I’ve always been a sucker for happy endings.”
We ended with a look at Jamie at the end of Pairs on Ice, when I said I enjoyed watching her grow up. “There’s one point where she’s coming to terms with her family, she kind of makes peace with her mom, and thinks, My mom isn’t the mom I’d like, but she’s the mom I have.”
“Mom comes through in the end, though,” Tracy added.
“She certainly does,” I said. “Gets a plane for them. [Through a series of misunderstandings, Jamie and Matt end up at her mom’s apartment and will miss the Sectional competition. Mom uses her influence to arrange for a corporate jet to take them home.] Jamie realizes that maybe people love in different ways. I thought that was a grown up thing for her to think.”
“Absolutely,” Tracy replied. “Thank you for coming into the studio, Liz. I’ll look forward to the next book.”
All in all, it was fun to do and I learned a lot. I hope Tracy’s listeners enjoyed the change of pace and maybe even considered getting a book for their kids or grandkids. My thanks to Tracy and the radio station for having me on the show.