Saturday, November 4, 2017

Skiing: My Fiction Versus My Reality

In Just Like the Brontë Sisters, sisters Jo Beth and Skylar are both expert skiers. I am NOT an expert skier. However, I like to follow that adage, write about what you know, and I do know a little something about skiing. I do have some real-life experience. But how does my skiing reality compare to my skiing fiction?

1.       I did not grow up in a Colorado ski town but am I sort of from Colorado.

Jo Beth and Skylar grew up in the fictional town of Black Diamond, CO. They spent every free moment hitting the slopes, and their peers were mostly ski rats. I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas. I spent most of my free time participating in local theater or dance productions, and my friends were all kids of faculty members from KU.

How does that make me “sort of” from Colorado? Well, my mom’s family (my aunts, uncles, etc.) all lived in Colorado as I was growing up. They still do. For the last twenty years, my mom and stepdad have lived in Boulder as well. So, I’ve spent a lot of summers and Christmases out there, and I since I no longer have any ties to Kansas, Colorado feels like a second home. Plus, I’ve lived in Colorado for months at a time. Which leads me to my next point…

2.       I am not an expert skier, but I did work as a ski-lift operator.

Both Skylar and Jo Beth can race down slopes, fly over moguls, and carve tracks like they were born with skis attached to their baby booties. Not me. I haven’t been skiing for years, but there was a time when I was halfway decent (but only if you compare to someone with no athletic ability or skiing experience.)

I need a lot of time to pick up physical skills. But at one point in my life, I had time and opportunity to learn to ski. You see, when I was a senior in college, some reps from the ski resort in Crested Butte, Colorado, visited campus to recruit people to come work as lift operators. I went and got hired. I was about to graduate with a degree in theater, so a job working at a ski resort was probably as good a prospect as I could hope for. 

I thought I was signing up for a romantic adventure. Now, when I look back on those months of employment, I remember a little bit of romantic adventure, but mostly I recall frozen toes and the feeling of not really fitting in. The other ski lift operators gave me a nickname: the librarian. This was because I wasn’t didn't enjoy going out and getting drunk, and I used my evenings to stay in and read. Plus, I wasn’t a great skier when I began working there.

When I finished, I also wasn’t a great skier. But I had graduated from green slopes to blue. I even tried one black slope, inching my way around moguls instead of over them. I did learn to keep my skis parallel, which I was proud of. And I can still remember that feeling of control plus speed, with the wind rushing past me, and feeling at one with the snow and the mountain. That feeling didn’t come often, but it was powerful enough to remember and to write about.

3.       I have never competed in the Olympics, but I love watching them.

Both Skylar and Jo Beth are the stars of their high school ski teams. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but at least one of them goes on to compete in the Olympics. I think it’s safe to say I will NEVER be an Olympic athlete. That non-existent window of opportunity has passed.

Yet I do love to workout. No, that’s not the same as being in the Olympics, but I’m addicted to the rush I get from my morning run or from a really good exercise routine. And while I’m not a sports fan, I adore watching the winter Olympics. It’s so cool that all the events center around snow and ice. The figure skating is always fun, but my true loves are the skiing events: the bells that the spectators ring, the biopics they show of the athletes, the suspense over who will get down the slope the fastest. I suppose it all reminds me of my brief flirtation with the world of skiing, so I feel vicariously cool, sitting on my couch with a box of cereal, wearing my flannel pajama pants while cheering on Bode Miller.

I think one of the best parts of writing fiction is wish fulfillment.  I can give my characters the success and glamorous background that I never had. Another great thing about fiction writing is taking memories and molding them into something new and exciting. That’s what I did with skiing in Just Like the Brontë Sisters and I’m so excited to share it now with readers!

My new novel is in presale on Amazon right now, and it's available for download on November 11th. You can read all about Jo Beth and Skylar's adventures with skiing and so much more. :)

 Click here to see the book on Amazon.