Finding Her Edge: A Q&A with Jennifer Iacopelli

When we heard Jennifer Iacopelli’s  latest book, Finding Her Edge, was a retelling of one of our fave Jane Austen novels, we had to know more. Read on for our Q&A with Jennifer!

Q&A with Jennifer Iacopelli

Tell us a bit about Finding Her Edge! What inspired you?

Finding Her Edge is a story about a young ice dancer, Adriana Russo, who comes from a legendary figure skating family. I drew my inspiration from two places. First, during the 2018 Olympics when all the media attention was on Virtue and Moir, the Canadian ice dancers and everyone insisted that they were together romantically, even when they kept denying it (and it turns out they weren’t!). I wanted to explore the potential toxicity of something like that happening, especially to younger skaters who maybe don’t quite have the same control over their careers as those two did!

Second, my favorite book is Jane Austen’s Persuasion and I’ve always wanted to do a retelling and there was something about the hierarchy of figure skating and that world that really lent itself to the foundations of that story and the strict hierarchy of Regency England!

Who is your favorite ice dancer/figure skater?

My all time favorite figure skater is Michelle Kwan. I regularly go back to watch her programs from years past. She’s just a few years older than me, so I feel like she’s inspired me for decades now! More recently, I’ve become such a fan of Nathan Chen. His brilliant skates in Beijing notwithstanding, his story is amazing and his comeback after all that pressure was put on him in 2018 to win, was seriously mind blowing!

Michelle Kwan in action.

You follow Persuasion quite closely, did you ever feel tempted to change or update some of the story beats?

I didn’t! It all seemed to fit really well and Persuasion isn’t nearly as popular as Austen’s other novels, so I felt like it made sense to stick with the plot as much as possible, despite it being pretty disguised by the ice dance of it all. If I’d been working on a Pride and Prejudice or Emma retelling, I probably would have messed with the story beats quite a bit more.

Break the Fall is about a gymnast, Finding Her Edge is about an ice dancer – what sport will you write about next?

We’ll see! For my next full length novel, I have a few ideas, but right now it looks like I might be headed to the world of ballet. And I just finished working on a short story for my upcoming anthology co-edited with Dahlia Adler about fastpitch softball!

Related: are you athletic? What’s your favorite sport?

I am decently athletic, mostly because I have good hand-eye coordination. I played sports in high school, but nothing at a super high level. My favorite sport of all time is baseball and I miss it so much right now it hurts!

If you could write a modern version of any other classic novel, what would it be? What genre would you rewrite it as?

I’ve always wanted to write an updated version of  William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair because it’s so juicy and delicious. Becky Sharpe is such a delightfully awful main character and I think it would play very, very well with a contemporary audience, but I also think it would have to be an adult novel to hit the right tone.

A scene from the 2007 adaptation of Persuasion.

What’s your number one piece of writing advice (either that you give people or that you’ve received)?

Always and forever, write the thing that you want to read. It will keep you motivated and you’re guaranteed to write something that at least one person in the world wants on their bookshelf (and if there’s one, there are many, many more!)

What are you working on next?

Right now I’m playing around with a few ideas. The first, that ballet story I mentioned earlier and I’ve got this super fun idea for a contemporary YA about a rock band, but that’s very much just a nugget of an idea that needs time to marinate.

Pandemic question: What’s the one thing you just can’t live without these days?

Right now, I’d be absolutely lost without my sandwich press. I bought a super cheap one and it makes the most perfect grilled cheese, brown and crispy on the outside and very melty on the inside!

Thanks for joining us, Jennifer! Finding Her Edge is available now, make sure you pick it up from your favorite bookstore!

Finding Her Edge
By Jennifer Iacopelli
304 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593350362 | Razorbill
Adriana Russo is figure skating royalty. With gold-medalist parents, and her older sister headed to the Olympics, all she wants is to live up to the family name and stand atop the ice dance podium at the Junior World Championships. But fame doesn’t always mean fortune, and their legendary skating rink is struggling under the weight of her dad’s lavish lifestyle. The only thing keeping it afloat is a deal to host the rest of the Junior Worlds team before they leave for France. That means training on the same ice as her first crush, Freddie, the partner she left when her growth spurt outpaced his. For the past two years, he’s barely acknowledged her existence, and she can’t even blame him for it. When the family’s finances take another unexpected hit, losing the rink seems inevitable until her partner, Brayden, suggests they let the world believe what many have suspected: that their intense chemistry isn’t contained to the ice. Fans and sponsors alike take the bait, but keeping up the charade is harder than she ever imagined. And training alongside Freddie makes it worse, especially when pretending with Brayden starts to feel very real. As the biggest competition of her life draws closer and her family’s legacy hangs in the balance, Adriana is caught between her past and present, between the golden future she’s worked so hard for, and the one she gave up long ago.

Also by Jennifer Iacopelli:

Break the Fall
By Jennifer Iacopelli
336 Pages | Ages 12+ | Paperback
ISBN 9780593114193 | Razorbill
Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics. A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world. The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most – but not all the gymnasts are as supportive. With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world? Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?

Jennifer Iacopelli: website | twitter | instagram

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