BALTIMORE – Richard Manichello returns to the literary limelight with a new fiction novel, Maia. A prequel to his debut novel, The Couloir, this romance saga offers readers a unique and enthralling experience with realism and fatalism, ultimately proving how love is everlasting and indomitable.
Maia, published by Xlibris, charts the story of extraordinary love up against the impossible odds of breaching the Cold War chasm between the United Sates and the Soviet Union. Eddie Genell, an American writer, tries to extract Maia, a stunning Olympic gold medal figure skater, from her communist culture during a high-tension East-West crisis. Can their fearless spirits win against insurmountable odds to love and live peacefully and freely?
“There is nothing of fiction currently on the market like Maia. The novel has a lively cast of interesting—some dangerous—characters, agents all in the wild-ride plot intended to somehow unite the impetuous lovers from opposite ends of the Cold War.” Manichello shares. “They bring political forces to bear upon their plot to be free. We see how the world worked in the 1980’s. Maia takes us on her journey, from communist subjugation, to wealth and fame as a Hollywood superstar.”
Genell, the American sportswriter, retreats to mid-winter Lake Placid when it seems the impossible plot to free Maia is doomed. In the snowy confines of the famous Olympic village and the blazing fireplaces of The Mirror Lake Inn, a hopeful scenario takes form. An Olympic biathlete training in Lake Placid for the 1984 Games and his wealthy father provide the lynchpin elements to steal Maia away from the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo. The story moves seamlessly through key locales: Leningrad, Moscow, Las Vegas, New York, Toronto, Sarajevo, and Venice, Italy.
The striking cover, by artist Tracie Smit, powerfully references the art of early 20th Century Constructivism, agitprop used to promote Socialist-Communist ideals.
The narrator, Eddie, laments. “The destinies of two people don’t amount to much against the full panoply of history. Those big social and political currents, the revolutions, the crises, the wars and upheavals don’t give a lick about the hungry heart and a love everlasting. Maybe we were just a story.”
Manichello will sign copies of Maia and meet the Inn’s guests on Friday, November 24, from 4-5 PM in upper Taste Bistro. His appearance and release of Maia will occur as Lake Placid plays host to Skate America. The Bookstore Plus will sell copies of Maia at their Main Street location as well as during Manichello’s Mirror Lake Inn appearance.
Maia by Richard Manichello
Hardcover | 6 x 9in | 464 pages | ISBN 9781524528874
Softcover | 6 x 9in | 464 pages | ISBN 9781524528867
E-Book | 464 pages | ISBN 9781524528850
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble & www.richardmanichello.com
About the Author
Richard Manichello has an extensive career in the arts spanning the gamut from acting and directing in the theater to an Emmy Award–winning television writer-producer, and a novelist. He has written short drama, some produced, and short fiction, some published. His debut novel, The Couloir (2006) is a story of renewal and rise from the scars of addiction set in Verbier, Switzerland. Maia, is the classic European novel, at once literary and entertaining, and filled with Cold War intrigue. He has directed Off-Off Broadway productions for many New York theatre companies, in the International Fringe Festival, and acted in several short films that have been featured in dozens of festivals worldwide. He has been a member of the Directors Guild since 1982.
She was electrifying. She possessed astonishing charisma, and charm, and character, and poise (CCCP). Eager fans threw flowers and gifts when she skated… they went absolutely ballistic.
Nearly two decades later, she still creates frenzy. She’s a planetary celebrity now, playing Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and like Cher and Madonna, Sting or Celine, she needs only one name, Maia.
One in the audience at Caesars tells Maia’s story in more detail; he knows the story of her subjugation in the Soviet Sports Gulag, her suffering and callous abuse by KGB watchdogs, and her triumphant rise to fame as a wealthy American superstar. In the time of the Cold War, he and Maia dreamt of a shining life in the free world together. She got the life. He’s left with the dream.
- Soviet fighters have just shot down a commercial 747 carrying 269 passengers andcrew over the Sea of Japan. Everyone perished. KAL 007 sets off another Cold War crisis and the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. are at it again. Eddie Genell, a sportswriter for Athlete Magazine, flies into Leningrad and the tense atmosphere of cold war brinksmanship to get a feature story on the Soviet Union’s first female singles figure skater with a shot at Olympic gold.
Maia Larisa Ulyanova is a phenom. The stunning young skater has captured the hearts of three hundred million Russians and is on the doorstep of Olympic history. Within days Maia and The Amerikansk are entangled in an all-consuming, impossible and illicit love affair.
Stateside, Eddie withdraws to cold, mid-winter Lake Placid and plots for Maia’s defection with the wealthy Colorado CEO of a uranium enrichment company whose sole supplier of product is the Soviet Union. The CEO’s son is on the U.S. Biathlon Team, training in Lake Placid and headed for the Olympic Winter Games in Sarajevo.
In the Adirondack village, the bizarre confluence of the biathlete and serendipitous meetings at The Mirror Lake Inn with his roughriding father, Eddie’s courage is renewed for the hair-raising adventure that lies ahead.
In Sarajevo, he has 14 days to bring the defection plan to fruition. He teams with Dragan Stojanovic, a gypsy-cab driver at the Olympic Winter Games, and the two become fast friends plotting the exacting course of getting Maia safely out of Sarajevo. But the Soviets have been tracking The American in Sarajevo, and the days and nights of the Olympic Winter Games become a cat-and-mouse match for deadly stakes. More than just a marked man, The American is now a bull’s eye in KGB crosshairs. Dragan’s souped-up Yugo-Chevy is a marked car, too, so they must borrow new transport from a former downhill skier for the Yugoslav Olympic Team and sizzling flame from Eddie’s past, Jelena Pavlovic.
* * *
Gorbachev was too late for Maia and Eddie: Peristroika and glasnost, revolution and reconstruction, communism changing places with capitalism, The Berlin Wall to Beverly Hills.
Some fairy tales don’t end happily ever after, and the hottest love affair of the Cold War took some strange twists. From the River Neva to the Nevada desert, Maia Ulyanova’s ascent to international A-List superstardom was swift and spectacular. She has houses in California, Connecticut, London, and Majorca now, and the paparazzi follow her every move, not the KGB.