Today we're excited to spotlight The Chosen Ones by Lisa Luciano. Read on for more about Lisa and her book, plus a guest post, and giveaway!
Meet Lisa Luciano!
Lisa Luciano’s work as a director/producer in television received national recognition for excellence in educational programming. She is the author of a nonfiction book about using technology in the classroom and has had a documentary script produced. Her nonfiction pieces have won numerous awards, and she has worked as a sports reporter for the New York Times, covering figure skating. She has taught English Language Arts, Technology, and Digital Literacy to students in grades 6-12 for more than 30 years and is currently working as a Library Media Specialist.
In her spare time she is a 4th degree black belt Tae Kwon Do master/instructor and also has a black belt in Hapkido.
Meet The Chosen Ones!
CHICAGO: Brody Yates plays back the anonymous voicemail left on his editor’s machine. “One of the world’s top male skaters is in danger,” it says, “He’ll be dead before the end of the Olympics. For once, tell the real story.” Despite the fact that Brody was fired from his former sports reporting job, and despite the fact that figure skating is not his idea of a sport at all, he takes the assignment—hoping to break the story of a lifetime. What he finds beneath the sequins and thrown bouquets is more
sinister than he imagined: corruption and lies, racism and homophobia, money and murderous intentions. Quickly he realizes his task is much greater than researching the world of figure skating for an article of a few thousand words—it’s the chance
to save a life, expose delinquency at the highest international levels, and redeem himself in the process.
The Chosen Ones (Micro Publishing Media, September 1, 2017) by Lisa
Luciano is a fictionalized look behind the scenes of a cutthroat sport that presents as the epitome of grace and poise. Framed by the story of Brody and his investigation into the potential murder, the plot braids together the narratives of various athletes and skating insiders.
There’s Glenn Chandler, the reigning Olympic champion and golden boy of the American Skating Federation, who feels an unbearable pressure to keep up with the demands on his personal and professional life. There’s Robby Donovan, the skater with the most raw talented, who evades the Federation’s attempts to pigeonhole him and is punished for it. There’s Freeman Bennett, one of the division’s top contenders, a black man in a very white, often racist sport. And there are the people who flock around them all: the overbearing mothers and crotchety fathers, the significant others, the shady agents.
The writing in this novel, perfectly pitched for young adults, includes both literary description and technical skating detail. And twisted around the investigation plot are a few juicy romances, some of them illicit, which keep the drama high from cover to cover.
Written by a former New York Times figure skating reporter, The Chosen Ones is a darkly entertaining depiction of the scandal and social issues entrenched in high-profile Olympic sports.
Why did it take 20 years for The Chosen Ones to be published?
Every book has a story of its own – inside and out. The Chosen Ones is no exception, though I think that its creation, death and re-birth might be a tad more dramatic than most novels.
I spent four years writing about figure skating for the NY Times. My love of the sport prompted me to produce a series of articles I hoped would help correct injustices that had gone on far too long. Figure skating was golden. The only sport that got higher ratings on TV was NFL football. It was a great time to be a skating fan. I immersed myself in that world.
Interestingly, some of the “insider” stories I was hearing were better than most soap operas. Truth was indeed stranger than fiction. Then it hit me. Why not write a novel? It would be my first attempt at it, but I wanted to stretch my writing muscles. I had no idea of the saga that was about to unfold.
I wish I could say that I struggled mightily to create my magnum opus, but the truth was that it came pouring out of me. The only way I can describe it is that it did not come from me, it came through me.
So now the book was finished and it was time to find a literary agent. I randomly picked from the Writer’s Market list and sent query letters. Nothing happened until I got to the letter “G”.
Within a couple of days of sending the letter, I got a call from Jay Garon, the head of an agency. Little did I know I was talking to the man who had made John Grisham a household name. Just as well that I was blissfully ignorant. I wouldn’t have been able to carry on a conversation had I known who he was. I still remember the brief conversation we had.
“I have 50 letters on my desk from writers just like you who want me to represent them. Forty nine of them are going back with rejections. But if your letter is any example of how you write novels, I want to read yours. Send it to me.” (Lesson learned: Put effort into everything piece of writing you do.)
I was dumbfounded. I sent the manuscript. Within days I was offered a contract and signed to one of the top literary agencies. It was surreal... and as it turned out, too good to be true.
In the days that followed, he began giving me advice about how to deal with the money that was going to start rolling in. He would get me a good lawyer. And he
told me something else. Never give up electronic rights to your work. This was in 1995, long before the Internet and digital world were having any real impact on anything including the publishing industry. A true visionary.
As for my book, he had set up an auction. He had so much faith in The Chosen Ones he would make publishers fight for the rights to the manuscript. I waited breathlessly for the phone to ring with the news that would not be if the book sold, but who bought it and for how much.
The phone did ring. But it wasn’t anything that my wildest imagination could have produced. It was someone from the agency informing me that something terrible had happened. Mr. Garon had passed away suddenly.
A deep sadness overwhelmed me not only at the loss of a great man, but also someone who would have been a mentor and a supporter - two things that are vital to a writer’s success.
The agency quickly assembled people to take over the stable of writers, but they didn’t share Mr. Garon’s passion for my book, so I left and put The Chosen Ones on the shelf and continued writing.
Fast forward to 2014. The Winter Olympics were coming and I began thinking of the book that almost was and decided I had to give it one more try for the man who believed in me and my work. I decided to join forces with Deborah Levine Herman and Micro Publishing Media, an independent publishing company, and now The Chosen Ones is a reality. It’s a story about winning and losing, finding out who you are and what you want and never giving up on your dream. And that is the same lesson I learned from writing the book I hope you will enjoy reading.
A Chat with Lisa Luciano:
1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
The book actually was inspired by my work for the New York Times covering figure skating in the 1990’s when it was at its peak of popularity. I realized the drama off the ice was compelling and that I could be the voice for those in the skating world regarding judges manipulating results, pressure put on young athletes, corruption, racism, homophobia and much more who dared not speak of the abuse and control they experienced.
2. Which came first, the title or the novel?
The book definitely came first. The book went through many titles. The first was Roses on Ice. I kept picturing the ice with the winners’ podium in the spotlight and flowers strewn around it from fans throwing bouquets. But the more I worked on the storyline and as reports of judges’ pre-selecting winners emerged, I realized one of the most important aspects of that world was how unless you were “The Chosen One” you could not win. That convinced me that had to be the title.
3. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you've learned as a writer from then to now?
Perseverance. Never give up on something you believe in. Yes, you need to be honest with yourself and take feedback seriously, but in the end, you have to approach your writing career like a parent raising a child. Disappointments and joys. Tough decisions. And lots of love and attention given to your creation.
4. What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love how the designer captured the essence of the skating world. He read the book and came up with the concept of three young men who represented some of the characters, all handsome, but all who look like they have a story to tell. I thought that perfectly captured the idea that there is something dramatic behind the glitter.
5. What’s up next for you?
I’m working on a “based on a true story” book about a woman who was born in a Communist country and whose family endured the brutal persecution of dissidents by the government, her escape to America and her life as an immigrant. It is the true tale of someone who experienced unspeakable challenges and survived.
6. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Writing this book was unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced. I can’t explain it, but while working on it, time seemed to stand still. I would look up from my computer to discover hours had passed. To this day, there are parts of the book I don’t remember writing. It was almost as if the story wasn’t coming from me, but through me. Did I channel the spirit of a former skater or tap into some collective creative consciousness? I’ll never know. What I do know is that this will always be a very special chapter in my writing career.
7. Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?
The most challenging scenes to write were the ones that involved the actual competitions. I had to find a way to avoid it being a laundry list - “he did a jump, then he did another jump”. I decided that the best way to handle it was to go inside the characters’ minds and hearts, not only the skaters but the people around them. I hope that it gives the reader a front row seat.
8. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
I find drafting the toughest part of writing. But once you have a structure and a storyline, I think revising is the most interesting aspect of being an author. You have an opportunity to shape and refine everything - the description, the dialogue, the word selection. The trick is to know when to stop. At some point you have to step back and say “I’ve done my best” and accept that no matter what others think, you have achieved success.
9. What would you say is your superpower?
I believe teaching martial arts is a superpower because you give someone the power to change their lives. I started as an adult who just wanted to get some exercise and 12 years later I am a fourth degree black belt Tae Kwon Do master. I like to be an example of “don’t judge a book by its cover” as well as how if you have a passion for something, anything is possible. I also feel it is important to be a role model for girls by proving size and gender don’t matter. It is courage and strength of character that will allow you to handle any challenge. Martial arts develops your body, mind and heart. No matter where you start from, you can achieve things you never thought possible.
10. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
A cause I feel strongly about is our veterans. They give their all to defend and protect our lives and way of life. The least we can do is respect and support them. I think the experience that brought this cause to my attention was when I was in high school I wore a metal bracelet with the name of a U.S. MIA soldier from the Vietnam War engraved on it. Once the war was officially over I took off the bracelet, but always wondered what happened to that serviceman. After the Vietnam War Memorial was created, I looked up his name to find out that tragically, he never returned home. I often think of him - a man I never knew or even met and thank him not only for his service, but for instilling in me a respect and gratitude to all who serve our country through their sacrifice. Some of the charities I think are doing good work are Wounded Warriors Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.
The Chosen Ones
By: Lisa Luciano
Release Date: September 1, 2017
One winner will receive a gift basket of a signed copy of The Chosen Ones, The Chosen Ones mug, The Chosen Ones tote (US only).