Elea Plotkin, who grew up in Van Zandt, graduated from Mount Baker High School and whose parents owned the Everybody’s Store, published her debut novel about a professional extreme skier and single mother earlier this year.
“The Procedure” follows the path of Whitney Olson, an extreme skier from Crested Butte, Colorado, who has a disabled child with a seizure disorder.
Plotkin has strong ties to the Mt. Baker area. Her parents, Jeff and Amy Margolis, owned the Everybody’s Store, an exotic grocery store in Van Zandt, from 1970 to 2019. Plotkin grew up downhill skiing, hiking and climbing in the North Cascades. She worked in the ski shop at Mt. Baker Ski Area from 1976 to 1980 — when George and Ann Savage ran it — before moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.
“My life has really revolved around being in the mountains,” Plotkin said. “Ever since I was a little girl.”
Plotkin said she followed the professional careers of Jim Whittaker, Conrad Anker and Jon Krakauer and was inspired by their storytelling. “I love the way they immerse people into the alpine,” she said.
When Plotkin sat down to write though, she said she wanted to write a story that was plot driven. She wanted archetypal characters, international intrigue, psychological and personal conflict that would create a story with subtext and drama.
Protagonist Whitney Olson is sponsored professional skier and travels, trains and films promotional videos with an elite corps of competitive skiers for a powerful, multinational company as the group prepares for the World Extreme Ski Championship in La Grave, France. Whitney goes heli-skiing and mountain climbing in some of the most beautiful but dangerous peaks in the world. She must survive avalanches, crevasses, deadly steeps and a duplicitous team member who is out to destroy her as they vie for over a million dollars in prize money and other lucrative commercial opportunities.
Plotkin said she likens Whitney’s character to a fireman, in that, if there was a fire, she would be the first to run in to try to save everyone. Plotkin said Whitney is gritty.
Plotkin said she has another book she’s writing that has yet to be published. She said it’s called “Cascade Crossing” and is a dystopian tale about a naïve, young pregnant woman from the Netherlands trapped at a birthing center in Darrington, Washington that would like to give away her baby. A man tries to help her escape by guiding her across the North Cascades. Plotkin said she hopes to make it available soon.
The title of Plotkin’s new book refers to a medical procedure Whitney undergoes while in Europe. A neurosurgeon eliminates her sense of fear. She then returns to the U.S. to ski and deal with the question: Is it cheating to eliminate fear?
“It’s a very contemporary story in that it doesn’t have the answers but brings up important questions, like how to handle risk in the backcountry and what an athlete does to enhance their performance,” Plotkin said.
Whitney also confronts double standards that female athletes have historically endured in order to succeed, according to the press release. The book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Target, in eBook form and has been optioned by Laughing Tiger Films for adaptation to screenplay.
Plotkin lives in Littleton, Colorado. She is also an accomplished jazz singer-songwriter, recording artist and classical pianist.