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Monday, December 20, 2010

Interview with Kate Messner, Author of Sugar and Ice

This is a interview by iopll98 and watergirl444 with Kate Messner on her new book Sugar and Ice.  This book is about a figure skater, and that's exciting to me because I've been a skater since I was two years old.

It says on her website that Kate grew up in Medina (a small town in Western New York), and she has been a teacher of middle school English. In 2006 she won the National Board Certification in Early Adolescent English Language Arts award.She is now an author and a teacher. 

We're honored to have this opportunity to ask her some questions about being an author!

1. Can you tell us a bit about your new book Sugar and Ice?
Sugar and Ice is about a girl from a small-town maple farm who earns a figure skating scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid. I started writing it during a Lake Placid skating camp my daughter signed up for a couple summers ago because I was fascinated by the sports psychologist who spoke to the parent group about the pressures of competitive skating.

2. Do you base any of your characters off of yourself or people you know?

Oh sure! My kids accuse me of “stealing from their lives” all the time, and I do use bits and pieces of real people in many of my characters.  Claire, for example, shares my son’s love for Math and my daughter’s love of skating – but not competing.   And the game their family plays -- “Who’s that Guy?” -- is one that my family has been known to play, too!

3. Is being a teacher and a writer hard? Why or why not?

It’s only hard in the sense that it makes it more of a challenge to find time for writing.  But in other ways, it’s wonderful.  I have middle school voices in my ears all day long, so it’s much easier for me to make my characters sound like real kids.  And I think my writing makes me a better teachers, too, because I completely understand the feeling of getting a paper back with “You can do better” scrawled across the top.  My editor does that all the time.

4. I have skated since I was 2 and really enjoy it.  Have you skated before?  Do you think your book will be most appealing to kids who like to skate?  Was there any event from the book that is inspired by real life events involving skating?

I never learned to ice skate until I was an adult, but when I moved to Northern NY, I decided it was time.  I’m pretty good now, though I can’t do anything too fancy.  Backwards crossovers are about as daring as I get out on the ice.  Many of the events from the book — Claire’s MATHCOUNTS team, the pancake breakfasts, and the local skating shows with junior coaches helping younger kids — are inspired by things in my own community.  Other parts of the book are based on interviews I did with people involved in the more competitive side of skating.

5. Who is your favorite author?

Hmm...how about if I choose three?  JK Rowling wrote my favorite series of all time — the Harry Potter books.  But those books weren’t around when I was a kid.  Back then, my favorite authors were Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume, both of whom have really inspired me and shaped my writing life, too.

6. What advice to you give your middle school students most about writing?

Read. Read. Read.  Reading lots of books will help you be a stronger writer.   And write.  If you want to write, don’t let anybody tell you that you have messy handwriting or you can’t spell or anything else negative.  That yearning to tell stories — to write them down and share them — is what makes you a writer. So just do it.

7. What is your favorite kind of chocolate?

Lake Champlain Chocolates are amazing, especially these sea-salt caramels they make.  (That question made me hungry!)

Thanks for the fun questions!  Hope you all have a great vacation!

All the best,


And thanks to Kate Messner, whose book Sugar and Ice is now available, along with her other books, such as The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. 

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