The Chosen Ones

A mystery crime thriller by Lisa Luciano

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If you thought the Tonya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan story was the biggest scandal in figure skating history, you are in for a surprise. It is just one of the many shocking and tragic scandals to rock the world of figure skating. Behind the glitz and glamour in the rink is a world filled with dark and disturbing secrets, corruption, greed, addiction, abuse, racism, homophobia, athletes at the breaking point, and countless suspects capable of murder in their quest for the gold medal.

Written by former NY Times Olympic reporter Lisa Luciano, The Chosen Ones (though fictionalized for protection) reveals shocking secrets inspired by real-life skaters and events. It is a darkly entertaining depiction of the scandal and social issues entrenched in high-profile Olympic sports.

A chilling message left on an answering machine warns that one of the world’s top male figure skaters will be dead before the end of the Olympics. A disgraced reporter has one chance to save a life and resurrect his career by going undercover as a trainer in order to infiltrate the backstage world of figure skating. What he discovers hidden behind the smiles and sequins, is a chilling and dangerously competitive world filled with corruption and scandal. In this non-stop thriller, only one person can win. Not everyone will survive.

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An Interview with Lisa Luciano

-Have you found there to be many differences between news writing and fiction? If so, what’s the biggest thing you had to adapt to?

In writing fiction, you have complete freedom with the characters and plot. With news writing, the goal is to do research and then present facts for the audience to consider and form their own opinions about. More of the writer comes through in fiction. In non-fiction, the writer should be invisible. The Chosen Ones was inspired by writing for the NY Times. Real skaters and events in the sport were woven into the fictional murder mystery, so for me, my two writing worlds merged.

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

My main protagonist is Brody Yates, a sports journalist who was fired for writing a story that seemed to be “fake news”. He knows in his heart it wasn’t, but he loses his job and with it who he is. His brother became a doctor and he has always felt he couldn’t measure up to him. Being a successful sports writer was his identity. When the story begins, he is offered a chance for redemption by investigating a potential murder plot against a skater which would lead to the story of a lifetime. What I think he would reveal is that if this doesn’t work, he knows he has lost everything that was important to him – his wife, daughter and his self respect and that he doesn’t know how he would go on with his life and that he is hiding how frightened he is to fail again.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

Probably Dale. He’s an educated, caring young man who has a passion for what he does and a secret he is hiding, so I think he would be interesting to have a conversation with.

-Any more novels on the horizon?

I have ideas for more novels, but I think my next book will bring me back to my journalistic roots. Non-fiction was where I started and it was my work at the NY Times that led me to write a novel, so I want to dig into subjects that are important and need to be examined.

-What is your favorite thing about figure skating? Were you able to incorporate it into the book?

The thing I love about figure skating is how it combines the highest level of athleticism with artistry. I was a gymnast, so I relate to skaters. It is incredibly hard to make something so dangerous and difficult like doing a quadruple jump look easy. I think I was able to portray the challenge of being a competitor in the sport of figure skating that looks beautiful on the outside, but in many ways is ugly on the inside.

-What comments have you received from readers that make you the happiest?

The thing I love to hear is that the audience forgets that these are fictional characters and love, hate, root for or sympathize with them. The story isn’t about who wins and loses. It’s about how the characters deal with challenges. The best compliments I have received are when a reader says two things – first, they didn’t figure out the murder mystery but liked the resolution. I’m happy I could keep the reader guessing. Second, they didn’t want the book to end because they came to care about the characters much like fans follow their favorite athletes. As a writer, I can’t ask for more than that.

About Lisa Luciano

Former New York Times sports reporter, Lisa Luciano has a unique perspective into the icy world of competitive figure skating, which she writes about in her debut novel, The Chosen Ones. The book won multiple awards in advance of its release in May 2020 including Best Sports Fiction in the NYC Big Books Competition. Luciano was also a television producer and director who received national recognition for excellence in educational programming. A teacher with 40 years of experience, Luciano taught English, TV Production, Technology, and Digital Literacy and most recently worked as a Library Media Specialist. She currently resides in Connecticut.

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