Deanna tell the readers about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
Cracks in the Ice, is a teen fiction. It’s the story of Gina Mangalli, the niece of a mafia don, who has the dream of Olympic gold as a figure skater. She is close to the realization of her dream when tragedy derails her. As many athletes, Gina loses her identity off the ice. In her case, it’s literally true as she enters witness protection. As events in the skating world unfold she is buried in grief and guilt. Spiraling into despair, Gina becomes a young alcoholic. Two people who never give up on her are able to return her to the church of her childhood where she rediscovers she is a child of God, beautiful and beloved, and able to move on. She learns there are other victories beside gold medals.
I’m not at all sure where the inspiration came from or why I chose this subject. I think identity and teen alcoholism are both important issues. There are many athletes in the media who lose focus of what’s important in the spotlight of fame and glory, and drinking is often portrayed as an acceptable means to cope. I think it’s important to look at the dark side as openly as we look at the fun side. But, this isn’t a dark or gloomy novel; it’s a novel of hope and reinvention.
Many main characters are a reflection of the author or somebody the author knows. Are there any tidbits that you’ve put into your characters, which mimic people around you?
Not really. Gina’s personality as a youngster probably has some of me, though my life was nothing like hers. A writer I know who is working on her memoir shared what it was like to be a little girl with alcoholic parents and worrying whether mom would be sober for the birthday party. I think I took her story to heart. The skating world in Gina’s day was glamorous and interesting. I thought it would make a good story.
Yes, I did do a lot of research. I knew nothing about the lives of skaters, or alcoholism. The research landed me in the settings. Wyandotte, MI, was the center of the mafia in the early 50’s. Broadmoor Training Facility in Colorado Springs would have been the training center of choice for someone like Gina.
Authors say the novel has a voice all its own. Did the plot change once your characters started forming the story?
The story didn’t start out to be about alcoholism. It started out to be about vintage ice skating. But once Gina started growing into her character and sharing her angst with me, her loneliness, her physical pain, she moved into her late teens, made a rash decision which she regretted, and oh my goodness, look what happened to her! She never saw that coming. Neither did I. And I think that’s exactly how it is for families, the teens and their parents. They never see it coming.
What was the hardest part to write writing this novel?
The hardest part of writing this novel was the multiple viewpoints. I rewrote it several times, tried several approaches, and finally realized that the dynamics are such in this story that one view point cannot iron out the complexities. Fame, tragedy, and alcoholism don’t just touch the subject. They touch everyone who loves that person and in very different ways. Gina couldn’t get out of this alone. Everyone needed to be involved and everyone needed to be heard.
Which did you create first, the plot or the characters?
I created the ice skater first, put her into a mafia family. Created her family and their home. Then the plot revealed itself to me.
What was your favorite chapter, or part, to write and why?
I loved writing Gina in the training center dorm with the other girls. I admire how she handled their backstabbing; makes me smile. Go, Gina! I liked the drama of Irena’s defection and how Gina is able to use her early knowledge of covertness to advantage. It’s amusing. I like the tenderness of Ziggy/Michael, explaining how he loves her. Maybe I like the very end the best because there is such hope for Gina when only a few chapters earlier it looked so grim. The woman has spunk!
Deanna we’ve all enjoyed learning about you writing, is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers about your books, or you personally?
Only that you will always find hope in my books. You will not find profanity, overt sexuality, and you won’t find immorality celebrated. I write for a younger audience and I think they deserve the very best literature we can give them. I try to give them characters to emulate and God moments to think about.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
No, not at all. I’m happy with the story. The first publisher that saw it liked it and when her staff read it they told her it was the best story she’d published. The publisher might be second thinking it at this point as it is very slow to get into the market. I’m having trouble finding a teen Christian market. Perhaps it would have gone out faster as women’s fiction. I don’t know. I need to find some Christian teen book clubs. Know any?
Deanna, Good Reads has one that would probably be a good avenue for your novel. Readers if you know of any Christian youth book clubs around comment and let us know.
I’m sure many readers are interested in learning more about you. Do you have a homepage where they can do so?
I’d love to hear from readers. There are places to leave comments on my website, www.BooksByDeanna.com. I’m also on Facebook. Thank you for having me, I’ve enjoyed it.
It has indeed been a pleasure to learn more about your novel. Much success to come.