Jen: Today’s guest is Vicki Ballante. Vicki, will you share a short bio with us?
Vicki: Vicki writes erotic and fantasy romance. She loves taking her characters into an alternate world where strange and sexy things happen. She lives with her patient husband and three noisy kids in South Africa. In between being a busy stay-at-home Mom who hates housework and spends half her life cooking everything from scratch, she runs several blogs, writes under another name, and buries herself in the delightful world of her characters.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Vicki: My newest release is The Love Commission. It’s about a fairy that enters the human world on a commission to marry a man for a year. She doesn’t bank on falling for her man so hard and has to choose whether to give up her fairyhood or stay with the man who she thinks may only love her because of the magic anyway. I’ve wanted to write a fairy book for years – but not the warring, sinister type – a romantic, feel-good book.
The queen must have chosen the noisiest moment to give her the commission.
“You are to enter the human world…as a human.”
Gelsey blinked, her wings trembling against her back. Four fairies had entered the human world and only one had come back safe, having succeeded in her commission. Two others had remained human, and the last one had been killed.
“I don’t understand….”
“You are a young fairy who has an amazing ability to calm down the most frightened bird or insect. I believe you will be as suitable for this commission as you are beautiful and humble. You know you aren’t perfect. Someone humble enough to admit her weaknesses would be just right for the human world. You won’t lose your personality at all when you take your new form. You won’t even lose your wings. They will merely remain dormant. You will be divested of some of your powers, though. But your power to calm down the distressed will remain. That power will enable you to succeed in your commission.”
“What am I to do?”
“You are to marry a man for a year. You will find out why the humans want love and sex but not children. As you may have learned in your studies at nature school, Homo sapiens reproduce differently to fairies. They reproduce by sex between a male and female. But the species have devised several means to prevent babies from being formed in the female body even though they continue to have sex. This has lowered the reproduction rate of the creatures who are important for the balance of the earth, specifically in South Africa. For this purpose, I want you to enter into their world and feel what they feel. You are to know what it is to love a male human with their type of love. You will go at the first break of spring and will be able to return home at the start of the following spring. We will give you your own vial of fairy dust. The gold dust should be used only twice. The first time is when you find a suitable man to marry. When you find someone who is single and who cares about the balance of nature, you must sprinkle the fairy dust on his head. The magic will make him want to marry you. Once the magic has worked, you cannot find another man. He is the one for you. If you mistakenly choose a married man, you will get one more chance.”
Gelsey’s wings beat against her back until they ached. Become a human and marry one? How would she know what to do? And a whole year? She would miss out on spring. It had been a long, cold winter, and she wouldn’t get to see or hear all the new baby birds or play with the flying ants when the rains came.
“The second time you should use the fairy dust is to come home. You are to sprinkle the dust on the man you have chosen to make him turn away from you. He will forget every instant shared with you. He will forget his marriage, and so will everyone he knows. Then you can come home without arousing any suspicion. Ziana will explain where you are to go and what job you will take on in the human world to make you fit in there. You have a month to find this man you are to wed. While you are married to him, you need to find out from him or anyone else you meet, like other females, the reason for the humans not wanting as many children. You are to research your own emotions and those of the male’s, and work out what is happening to humans to change their future.”
“What if I don’t find anything of importance?”
“By becoming one of them, you will automatically understand how they think and what is happening in their hearts. Although you may not comprehend in the beginning, marrying a male human will help you to understand. Well, that’s what we believe.”
Gelsey wasn’t so sure. The queen had much more wisdom than the general fairy, but what if she didn’t know everything? Fairies knew little of the human world. They had never understood humans and their strange behaviors.
“If you succeed at your commission, you will be promoted to Head Endangered Animal earth fairy for South Africa.”
Gelsey gasped. To be able to save an animal from extinction had been her dream for years. But could she fulfill this commission?
Jen: What what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Vicki: Even as a kid I dreamed of becoming a writer and used to love English at school the most. I didn’t consider it as a career until my kids were small and I had nothing to stimulate me mentally. I started off writing children’s books but soon realised romance was my genre. I received my first contract in 2012 for my sweet romance. I’ve since started writing spicier books and have chosen a new writing name for those. My first contract came about after some pleading with the publisher to help me. She took me under her wing and actually taught me so much. The book she worked with me on didn’t ever see the light of day (quite rightfully) but the next one I sent in got sold!
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Vicki: Strangely enough, my step-sister and step-brother both love writing. I published four of my step-sister’s books on Amazon for her. She’s so talented but writes more drama / women’s fiction. My step-brother is more into non-fiction / research writing. My sister and I chat often about our shared passion and we help edit each other’s work.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Vicki: I go for weeks without writing partly because other things reach deadline and I have to deal with them. When I get back into writing, I sprint and tend to write a book in about two months if I don’t get sent an edit in between. I write the first draft fast and then I put it aside for a couple of months to step away from it. Then I send it to beta readers and edit it over once or twice or even three times before sending it off. But every book is different. Depends on what’s going on in my life at the time. Some books have taken me five months to write.
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Vicki: Most of my ideas come to me when I go for my weekly walk (yes, I know I should get out more but with three kids…) Anyway, by the time I get home, household things distract me so I don’t often write down my ideas. Hence, I forget them sometimes and I do have a notebook that I’m supposed to be using. Thankfully, my memory is still pretty sharp so I don’t forget much, especially seeing I’ve mulled over the idea for so long.
Jen: Who has influenced you as a writer?
Vicki: Wow, I’ve been blessed with so many wonderful people so far. Amazing editors, great critique partners, awesome writing friends. I’d say Zee Monodee and Laura Garland have helped me so much with their editing. Just by working with them, I feel I’ve become a better writer. April Vine and Ylette Pearson are the absolute best critique partners you could ask for. April’s got the sharpest eye for something that doesn’t work well or make sense, and Ylette just makes me feel like my books are worth something. And my fellow ROSA (Romance Writers of South Africa) writer friends have taught me all about the business of writing – so much that I have to say I’d never be where I am without them. Stephanie Taylor from Astraea Press gave me my first contract and boosted my career. She’s an amazing, giving person. Kate Richards, my senior editor at Decadent Publishing has taught me and encouraged me so much along the way. There are many more, but I can’t spend all day on one point.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Vicki: The Love Commission is Book #1 of The Savannah Sprites series – fairies in Africa. I’ve started the first page of Book #2. Let’s say it’s going to be full of conflict, passion, and fairy magic. This time my sprite will be a male fairy with beautiful chocolate skin.