When I told people I’d written a novel set in Russia, I was sometimes asked, ‘Is it about spies/oligarchs/mobsters?’…and ‘have you been there?’
When the answer to these questions turned out to be ‘no,’ another one usually followed: “Why Russia?”
First, it made sense from a plotting standpoint. Russia is known for pairs figure skating champions and PAIRING OFF is the story of two pair skaters, an American woman and a Russian man, who team up when both are left without partners prior to the Winter Olympics. Not only that, but after my heroine’s career and reputation are ruined by the outrageous antics of her ex-skating partner, Carrie has good reason to pack her bags.
I also loved the idea of placing my Southern belle heroine in a huge, foreign city. Though Carrie’s skating career has taken her all over the world, it’s one thing to visit a place for a week-long competition, and another to move there.
In Moscow, Carrie encounters architectural beauty, surly fast food and subway employees; discovers that fish pie tastes much better than it sounds, and that a GPS doesn’t work so well when your destination is spelled with Cyrillic letters.
But one of the things I loved most about writing PAIRING OFF was the fun I had presenting Russia, and Russians, in a different way. Though Moscow is a familiar setting for thrillers, PAIRING OFF is less Tom Clancy and more Nora Ephron. Inspired by the portrayal of Manhattan in When Harry Met Sally and my own experience of living in downtown Chicago, I tried to create a vibrant city of restaurants, coffee shops, parks, quirky neighborhoods and people falling in love.
Carrie doesn’t go to Moscow expecting any of those things, but she finds them, along with a gorgeous sexy man who’s just as beautiful on the inside. Anton is a different kind of Russian hero too, and with him, Carrie realizes that home isn’t just where you are, it’s who you’re with.
Have you ever lived abroad? What did you enjoy most, and what was the biggest challenge?
American figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented–and handsome–skater she’s ever met.
Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close–with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.
When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?
An adventurous cook, vintage home enthusiast, occasional actress, and entry-level figure skater, Elizabeth makes her home in the Midwest, where life is good, but the sports teams aren’t. She loves to hang out on her front porch, or at her favorite local establishments, enjoy good food and wine, and talk writing with anyone who will listen.
A graduate of the University of Illinois, she has worked in advertising, community journalism and as a freelance magazine writer. She feels incredibly blessed to have a career that allows her to spend her days imagining “what if?” and a loving family that keeps her grounded in the real world.
Elizabeth is a member of Romance Writers of America. Watch for her future Carina Red Hot Russians releases, TURNING IT ON, Aug. 2015, and GETTING IT BACK, March 2016.