Book captures rise of Duhamel and Radford
Join Latitude 46 Publishing and Sudbury-based sports journalist Laura E. Young for an afternoon of reading and coffee.
In Soulmates, Young chronicles the unlikely path Meagan Duhamel of Lively and Eric Radford followed on the way to the top of the world in figure skating.
The two-time world pairs champions and three-time Olympic medalists reflect on how they developed a working relationship and honed their resilience in a sport that often left them bloodied and bruised. Here, Young answers some questions about her book.
Q & A with Laura E Young
- Why was it important for you to tell this story?
I wanted to celebrate Meagan’s long career in skating. She wanted it to be the story of her career with Eric Radford and I was more than game to do that. As well, they have a lot to say about teamwork, sportsmanship, professionalism and performing under stress – all of which is relevant beyond the world of sports. And, at the end of the day, this is a love story.
2. What were some of the challenges in writing a book under a tight deadline?
As a working journalist, I adore deadlines and need them. Still, there were times when I wondered how we would get it all done, but I figured Meagan and Eric know how to make things work so let’s test that theory under tight deadlines in the literary and publishing world.
3. As Meagan and Eric were in their final competitive year, how did you manage to interview them?
Timing was the weirdest thing on this book. There were pockets of time where we could all meet and do the bulk of the work long before they departed for the 2018 Olympics and their final competitive skates. There was a college strike (I teach part-time at Cambrian College), which freed me up from teaching to concentrate on the drafting and interviewing. That strike coincided with the Grand Prix season where they had pockets of time in between events. We managed. Sometimes, interview times were pushed back in the day or switched, but we still found 45 minutes here and there to do the work.
The biggest challenge came after the Olympics with trying to get back on track. We had been away from the project for about three months and they were understandably tired. Eric talks about this in Soulmates, the importance of taking baby steps towards a goal and when you look back, the goal is completed or you’ve at least made all this progress.
4. In the book, both Meagan and Eric, talk openly about their private and professional lives. Was it difficult to access this information and gain their trust?
I have known Meagan her entire career and we all know each other in a ‘Sudbury way.’ Two degrees of separation or whatever it is. She is also so open in all her interviews, but it had been a few years since we had met in person.
So, for me it was key to go to Montreal in September of 2017 (again a perfect pocket of time revealed itself). I watched them skate and conducted a few initial interviews there.
Then I think we built up trust over time. I am a fan of theirs and of sport in general and that was obvious throughout the process. I followed a strict outline that they had approved. The trickier bits came later in the writing after we had done a lot of talking. I asked questions in a neutral way, open-ended way.
And, of course, it’s great fun to talk about the Olympics after you perform the way they did and achieve everything you could ever imagine and more.
5. Any surprises along the way?
There were a few bombs loaded with information dropped during interviews, which means there are a few surprises for readers – even though Eric and Meagan are well-interviewed and all over social media. I was intrigued by how alike they are, even though people didn’t agree with the pairing and they endured a lot of criticism.
I wanted to cry when Eric talked about how hard it was growing up and being bullied in his hometown. Meagan has put her body through so much, right down to losing some hair at one point.
They have both emerged healthy and happy with a great attitude and exciting career plans. As I’m privy to a few off-the-record details, I’m so excited to see what happens next for both of them.