Monday, April 30, 2012


On Monday, I wrote about how I got my jobs in soaps (ABC Daytime, ATWT, GL).  This week, I thought I'd share how I got my jobs in skating.

I was born in the former Soviet Union, and Russian is my first language.  Earlier, I shared with my attempts to  make my three kids bilingual, and how I managed to mess it up in three different ways.  But, what I didn't share was why getting them to speak another language was so important to me.

It wasn't because The New York Times claims it makes kids smarter, and it wasn't only because I wanted them to be able to speak to their grandparents.  It was primarily because you never know what skill might come in handy down the line on the job front.

I have a Master's in Broadcasting, and I always knew I wanted to work in TV.  But, so do a lot of people.  The trick to getting any job is to stand out, to offer more than any other candidate.  And when applying for a researcher/writer position at ABC Sports, what made me stand out was that, on top of the degree and my knowledge of figure skating, I also spoke Russian, which meant I could communicate with a great many of the skaters they covered.  (While I am completely fluent, I kept the fact that I am not particularly literate, to myself, which led to some amusing close calls I recounted for My Life in Translation.)

While at ABC Sports, I traveled to Moscow and St. Petersburg to help shoot Up Close & Personal profiles on Irina Slutskaya, Maria Butyrskaya, Eltsova & Bushkov, and Bereznaia & Sikharulidze.

Not only did I help facilitate and shoot the interviews but, as you can see below, I also did the (fake) Russian-accented voice-over for both Irina Slutskaya and her mother, as well as translated when Dick Button later interviewed Irina following her European Championship win.

It was also this trip to Russia that inspired my third figure skating mystery, "Axel of Evil," which takes place at a made-for-TV-competition in Moscow, and features the murder of a defector, back on Russian soil for the first time as a coach.  (You can read an excerpt, here.)  I included details from everything I'd seen while with ABC, including the dilapidated arenas, the difficult training conditions, the battles between skaters and their Federation, the coaches who grew up under one system only to flounder in another, and, my personal favorite, the cat walking freely about a hospital emergency room.

Funny enough, "Axel of Evil" was actually the first book I pitched to my editor at Berkley Prime Crime.  She liked the premise, but felt we should kick off the series with a story that took place in America.  I dutifully wrote another proposal, which she accepted.  But, that night, the judging scandal in Salt Lake City erupted, and I sent her an e-mail that read: What is someone kills the judge who gave the gold medal to the Russian over the American?

She loved the idea, and that became, "Murder on Ice," with the book set in America turning into "On Thin Ice," the second in the series.

All five of my figure skating mysteries were published as paperback originals by Berkley from 2003-2007.  Earlier this year, I got the rights to them back, and am re-releasing each title as an enhanced ebook, with videos by The Ice Theatre of New York included as part of the story.

Check them out below and make sure you let me know what you think!

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