Thursday, January 17, 2013

Power Play Day with Stacy Juba

by Mary Sutton / @mary_sutton73

So just what is "power play day?" Well...

A "power play" in hockey is when one team is playing with one or more players than the other as the result of a penalty. And hockey is very much front and center in Stacy Juba's young adult book, Face Off. The book, a re-issue of the original, deals with twins Brad and TJ, whose rivalry isn't limited to the action on the ice. Who will come out on top? You'll have to read (or listen) to find out.

In my book, Power Play, Jaycee has to deal with a political grab for power by an unknown person. That unknown person is going to play a big part in the series, as Jaycee's repeated visits to the game world of Mallory challenge her to find out who this unknown enemy is and stop him.  I visited Stacy's blog; you can read the interview here.

Take two young adult books, two authors, two interviews, shake well, and that is "power play day."

Here's Stacy!


Why did you decide to do a hockey-focused sports book - are you a fan?

I wrote this book many years ago when I was 16 years old. I had discovered hockey during the 1988 Olympics and then started following NHL hockey. I was an avid reader and loved to read, however the only hockey books I could find at the library were biographies of 1970s hockey players. I wanted to read a fiction story revolving around hockey, but they seemed in short supply. I always loved to write stories, so initially Face-Off began as a way to entertain myself. I did have aspirations of publishing it, though. I entered it in a contest for teen writers and it won a publishing contract with a major publisher. Twenty years later, I brought it back into print and released e-book and audio editions also, as I still think there is a shortage of juvenile and teen novels about hockey.

Sounds like there's some sibling rivalry here. Do you have siblings? If so, how did your relationship with them influence the relationship between TJ and Brad?

I actually don't have siblings, but I used to wonder what it would be like to have them. I watched a lot of TV shows about siblings, like Growing Pains, Family Ties, and even The Brady Bunch, and I observed friends with siblings. I wanted to convey how siblings can be irritating, and how it's pretty typical for competition to arise, but how they stand by each other and can have a special friendship.

A lot of people talk about twins as having a special “connection” – almost like they can sense what the other one is doing. Do Brad and TJ have that kind of connection and how do they deal with it?

Brad and T.J. had a special connection when they were younger, but they drifted apart when their parents put T.J. in private school and they became rivals. Once they wind up on the same hockey team again, and are playing together on the same line, they can't deny that they still have that connection and that they can almost read each other's minds on the ice. Once they deal with their rivalry and get past the need to outdo each other, they realize that they want to have that connection off the ice also. Their parents are separating, and their younger brothers have trouble dealing with the family breaking apart, and the twins need to pull together to help their brothers as one thing the family doesn't need is more arguments.

Sounds like Brad resents/is jealous of TJ more than vice-versa. Is that true? In what ways is TJ jealous of Brad?

It was about equal until a few chapters into the book, when they find themselves in the same school and on the same hockey team. Their rivalry started when T.J. was sent to a private high school a few years earlier. T.J. felt a lot of pressure to excel academically, and resented that Brad was allowed to go to public school. Although he grew to like his school, T.J. still felt that Brad had more freedom to be himself rather than always having to please their parents. Meanwhile, Brad felt resentful that T.J. was known as the smart one. Brad has a secret, which is that he writes fiction, and it irks him that people only see him as a jock. When the family's financial situation forces them to put T.J. in public high school, Brad's resentment intensifies as now his twin brother is invading his turf. Brad's friends like T.J., and the coach is thrilled to have another star hockey player on the team. So once T.J. switches to public school, that is the catalyst for Brad's resentment escalating. At this point in the story, T.J. feels angry that his twin brother is acting so unsupportive. Their rivalry gets so intense that is starts to hurt the team.

You write in a lot of different genres. How is that challenging to you as a writer?

I write whatever story idea is the most pressing one on my mind. Sometimes it's an adult book, sometimes it's a children's story, and sometimes it's a young adult novel. I've enjoyed learning about different genres and meeting writers from different genres. I've been in various organizations over the years, such as Sisters in Crime, the Society of Children's Book Writers, and in various romance writer groups. It keeps me well-informed and versatile in today's constantly changing publishing industry. Writing adult books comes the most naturally to me, though. I have a couple YA sequels in the works, but expect most of my future novels to be for adults. My current work-in-progress is a light romantic comedy and I'm having a blast writing in that genre.

What do you find different, and intriguing, about writing for young adults opposed to an older audience?

Young adults are on a journey of self discovery, and need to find the confidence to be who they are amidst peer pressure. They want to fit in, and now with all of this technology and social networking available to them, they not only want to fit in at school, but they also want to "fit in" online on sites such as Facebook and Instagram. I think this is a difficult time to be a kid as they are growing up too fast nowadays. I want to get them away from their social networks and texting, and tell them a story, a fun entertaining story that takes them away from the Internet and the daily stress of being a teen. I also want the book to remind them that other kids are facing the same insecurities and problems that they are dealing with and that it's important to be true to yourself and find who you are - which isn't necessarily what others want you to be.

You won the Malice Domestic Grant for new mystery writers. What was that like and tell us about the story that got you the award.

That was a wonderful experience! I won it in 2005 for my novel-in-progress Sign of the Messenger, about a hands-on healer and psychic who gets involved in a mystery. I still would like to finish the book, but I wound up getting sidetracked by rewrites of my other books and then by promotion of my published novels. And then I got another, more pressing, book idea that demanded to be written. It's fully outlined though so I plan to go back to it. As far as winning the award, my husband came with me to the Malice Domestic Convention outside of Washington, D.C. I got to attend the conference and the award was presented at the Agatha Awards banquet. I loved meeting so many other writers and mystery lovers, and the other grant recipient, Hilary McGowan, became one of my closest friends. I used the $1,000 grant money to take online writing classes, and these classes were instrumental in helping me to reach the next step in my career.

You have a background as a journalist. How do you think that has helped your fiction writing and how is fiction different?

Being a journalist has helped me a great deal as I do a lot of research for my books, and sometimes I'll do an interview to get details that will enrich a novel. Journalism taught me those skills and it also taught me how to weave in details without making the story dry and boring. Newspaper articles need quotes to spice up a story and fiction needs dialogue and interesting narrative. If you just dump in a huge paragraph of information, it's boring and takes you out of the story. The one problem I had with switching gears was that in journalism, I was trained to write short and concise. With novels, I had to practice writing longer as if it's too short, the book is a novella and not a novel.

About Face-off
Head-to-Head, Skate-to-Skate, It’s Winner Takes All! What might have been a dream come true has turned into a nightmare. Brad’s twin brother T.J. has gotten himself out of the fancy prep school his father picked for him and into the public high school Brad attends. Now T.J., the bright light in his father’s eyes, is a shining new star on the hockey team where Brad once held the spotlight. And he’s testing his popularity with Brad’s friends, eyeing Brad’s girl and competing to be captain of the team. The whole school is rooting for a big double-strength win…not knowing that their twin hockey stars are heating up the ice for a winner takes all face-off. Re-issue of the hockey classic, originally written when Stacy was 16 and published when she was 18.

The Hockey Hall of Fame’s Junior Education Program – Recommended reading list for the junior and intermediate levels.

Best Books for Young Teen Readers: Grades 7-10 by John T. Gillespie -Recommended in the sports category.

Available at:

Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBookstore, KoboSony Reader Store, and Audible

Check the website,, for additional retail information.

About Stacy:

Stacy Juba has written about reality TV contestants targeted by a killer, an obit writer investigating a cold case, teen psychics who control minds, twin high school hockey stars battling on the ice, and teddy bears learning to raise the U.S. flag: she pursues whatever story ideas won’t leave her alone. Stacy’s titles include the adult mystery novels Sink or Swim and Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, the children’s picture books The Flag Keeper and the Teddy Bear Town Children’s Bundle (Three Complete Picture Books), and the young adult novels Face-Off and Dark Before Dawn. She is also the editor of the essay anthology 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back. She is a former journalist with more than a dozen writing awards to her credit.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for hosting me, Mary! This was a neat exchange.