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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Guest Post: Alina Adams - Murder on Ice

Today I am lucky enough to welcome Alina Adams, author of Murder on Ice to Fictional Candy.  Please give her a warm welcome, and enter for your chance to win a copy of her novel at the end of the post!

By Alina Adams

(Originally published in 2003 by Berkley Prime Crime.  Re-released in 2011 as an Enhanced E-Book)


Prior to starting her first season as a figure-skating researcher for the 24/7 network, Rebecca "Bex" Levy received an iceberg-high load of advice.

Some of it was concise.

"Don't screw up," Gil Cahill, 24/7 Sports' Executive Producer told her.

Some of it was obscure.

"A cheated triple Axel is not a quadruple toe loop," coach Gary Gold lectured.

Some of it was obvious.

"I need all my research prior to the start of the event," commentator Francis Howarth intoned meaningfully, while his wife Diana stood nearby, rolling her eyes and needling, "I think she knows that, dear. I hardly think Bex was planning to give you your information after the closing credits rolled."

But only one piece of advice turned out to be actually useful.

"Remember," 24/7's veteran skating director told Bex before their first production meeting for their first event, "The skating season is not a sprint. It's a marathon. Ration your energy accordingly."

He wasn't kidding. The skating season, which had once encompassed the European and U.S. championships in January, followed by the world championships in February, and once every four years an Olympics followed by ten months of getting ready for next year, now stretched from early September to late March, with senior and junior eligible competitions, ineligible competitions, pro-ams, exhibitions, Grand Prix events, a Grand Prix final, nationals, Europeans, world championships, and once every four years an Olympics followed by a five-month, thirty-city tour of champions. And then three whole weeks to relax, regroup, and get ready for next year.

The killer schedule—if it's Tuesday, it must be Biellmann spins—took its toll on everyone connected to the sport. Not only the athletes, who dutifully packed up their sequined costumes practically every weekend for yet another jaunt to Europe, to Asia, to Canada, to New York and California and back again, but also on the coaches, parents, team leaders, doctors, judges, choreographers, skate sharpeners, nutritionists, agents, publicists, makeup artists, seamstresses, hair stylists, print journalists, Internet journalists, and assorted other hangers-on. And then there was the television media: commentators, directors, producers, cameramen, technical directors, tape operators, sound mixers, editors, production managers, production coordinators, production assistants, and researchers—let's not forget the researchers!—all of whom arrived days before the competition commenced to set up their crews and command centers and stayed days after the event ended to edit and transmit and clean.

Naturally, as a result of jetting off every few days to yet another time-and-strain-of-flu zone, by the time the world championships rolled around, everyone, from skater to entourage to media hack, was exhausted. And even though the world championships were currently being held in the U.S.—San Francisco, California, in point of fact; home of the Golden Gate Bridge and record-breaking earthquakes, but not, Bex made a point of highlighting in her research notes, Rice-A-Roni—which at least meant less travel time for the American delegation, everyone was still dead tired from seven months of globe-trotting and eating strange, greasy foods and sleeping in strange, greasy beds and bathing in strange showers with drains that somehow seemed to be perennially clogged.

Everyone, as a result, was operating on a very, very short fuse.

That was why, in only ten days of competition, they'd already seen eleven hysterical meltdowns, eight formal complaints about biased judging, seven countercomplaints about biased refereeing, five screaming matches, four out-and-out fistfights, two reporters getting their credentials pulled, and one arrest (disturbing the peace; Belgium's ice dancer decided to celebrate his bronze medal win by doing a naked Yankee polka on the roof).

And this was all even before the Italian judge turned up dead.

*   *   *

I am not Rebecca “Bex” Levy.  I am Alina Adams.  However, from 1995 to 2001, I too was a figure-skating researcher.

I worked the US and World Championships for ABC, the Grand Prix for ESPN, the 1998 Olympics for TNT and a series of professional shows for NBC.

I too was given an iceberg high load of advice (with “Don’t screw up,” being right at the top of the list), and I saw a great deal of behind-the-scenes things which, as a credentialed professional whose job it was to make the sport and its athletes look their best, I was not allowed to share.

Until now.

Well, technically, until 2002, when my toddler son’s obvious displeasure with my hectic travel schedule (he more or less quit talking to me), prompted me to hang up my research binder and take a job closer to home – writing a figure skating mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime.

The disclaimer at the front of every book in the series (also including “On Thin Ice,” “Axel of Evil,” “Death Drop” and “Skate Crime”) states that the characters represented herein bear no relationship to anyone living or dead.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

When the books were merely paperback originals, that’s all I needed to say.

But, now, I’ve knocked the whole series up a notch.

Because I didn’t just re-release “Murder on Ice” as an e-book.  I re-released it as an enhanced e-book, with skating videos provided by The Ice Theatre of New York included along with the text as a part of the story!

So now, here’s what we’ve got: We’ve got fictional characters based on no one currently living or dead being performed by real-life (currently living) skaters who most certainly bear no relationship to the fictional characters they are portraying on the ice, except physically.

Got that?

In other words, the skaters you see in the “Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition” e-book videos are just actors playing characters from the story, who are based on real-life skaters who are not the ones you are watching.

(Somehow, I suspect I just confused matters further…)

In any case, “Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition” is an experiment on my part with multimedia storytelling.  It’s not exactly a book, it’s not exactly a movie.  It’s more like a merger of the two.

Eventually, I intend to release all five books in my Figure Skating Mystery series as Enhanced Multimedia Editions.  But, I would love feedback from readers about how I can make the experience better for them (you).  Please contact me via my website, to give me your thoughts.

(You do not need a designated e-reader to experience “Murder on Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition.”  All you need is the free Kindle or Nook apps, and you can access the book via your phone, your laptop or your desktop computer.)

Alina Adams
"New York Times" best-selling author
Cutting edge multimedia enhanced e-books
Alina is giving away an Ecopy of "Murder On Ice: Enhanced Multimedia Edition" to one lucky commenter!   No geographic restrictions, people age 13 and older.  Winner can choose Kindle or Nook Compatible. 

To enter: Please comment below with your email address (if not readily visible on your profile) and tell us what you think of the concept of blending videos with text in order to tell a story?

Contest is over, winner has been contacted.

Thank you and Good luck!