Being a Michigander, I’m no stranger to snow, so writing a skiing book isn’t that far-fetched. I first came up with the idea in the winter of 2014 while watching the winter Olympics. West Michigan was buried under 100 inches of snow and I spent a lot of time snuggled on the couch thinking about snow and watching amazing athletes do incredible things with their bodies. I’ve always skied and thought it’d be fun to write about a skier—but not just any skier, a girl who isn’t afraid of anything and can hurl herself through the air like the best of them.
I borrowed the idea of two kids meeting on vacation and cliques with silly names from the movie Grease, then I tossed in a few Mean Girls and added a brewery because my husband and I love craft beer and brew beer at home.
As for skiing, my grampa worked at a small ski place on the east side of Michigan so I first learned when I was five-years old. In junior high I joined the ski club—which means they set 200 7th and 8th graders loose on a hill once a week—but I didn’t get over my fear of going fast until I took a ski class in college. I’ve always been more about precision—the Snow Bunnies’ style is based on how I ski—but being graded forced me to get over myself. Now my husband and I regularly race down the slopes—but I’ll never do spectacular stunts like Cally.
Despite my familiarity with the sport, I did a lot of research for the terminology in THE SLOPE RULES. I spent a day riding up the chairlift on the terrain park to watch how the kids interacted on the jumps and tricks, and I critiqued my own skiing. When you’ve done something your whole life you don’t think about the technique, you just do it, so I paid attention to little things like which leg you lean on to turn and what the snow sounds like when you catch an edge.
So far the response from readers has been great, and I especially love the people who say they’ve never skied but my book made them feel like they could. That’s why I do this. To unleash readers’ imaginations and make them imagine things they never thought possible. Even if it’s just pulling a reverse 360 on snow.
You can find out more about Melanie Hooyenga and her other YA novels on her website and social media accounts:
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