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Saturday, October 8, 2011
Author Interview with Olivia Ventura
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Olivia Ventura, author of Miss Fix-It, which received a rating of five books from our reviewer. You can see the review here. She also has Inter-Office Relations, an erotic romance under the pen name Louisa Masters, releasing soon.
Olivia told me she started writing because, when she didn't like the events of a story she was reading or, especially, if she didn't like the ending, she would just rewrite the story to please herself. In the end, she just started writing her own stories.
She's also the oldest of her cousins, so she used to write plays--"very bad ones," she confessed--and bully them into acting.
"We’d put on a performance at Easter and Christmas," she remembered. "They’ve never forgiven me for it, especially since my dad filmed them."
"What did you want to be when you grew up?"
"A fairy princess. Funny you should ask this, we actually had a costume party last New Year’s Eve with this theme. I looked beee-you-tiful, if I do say so myself!"
Her first book, Miss Fix-It, was inspired by a situation Olivia experienced.
"I had to have a tradesman come and repair something, I don’t even remember what, and his attitude drove me crazy. He all but patted me on the head when I told him what the problem was, then spent twenty minutes establishing what I’d just told him—which he charged me for. Just because I don’t have the specific skills required to make the repair does not mean I’m too dumb to see what needs to be done! I was convinced that a woman wouldn’t have been so pigheaded (sexist of me, I know). And thus, Miss Fix-It was born."
She started thinking what a female handyman would be like.
"I didn't see why she had to be stereotypical," she said. "Why couldn't she be girly?"
I asked her to tell us a little about Miss Fix-It.
"It's a contemporary romance about Veronica (always Vee, never Ronnie), an outgoing, girly, funky and fashionable woman. She has regular manicures, fabulous clothes, a shoe fetish, and a love affair with the color pink. And she’s a handyman—woman—person—I always get stuck with this word!
"She’s on a job when her client’s husband gets frisky, and because Vee is soooo not into adultery, she threatens him with her pink hammer to make him back off. Next thing you know, she’s at the local police station, being questioned about the ‘attempted assault’.
"Her questioner, sexy detective Cole Samuels, isn’t sure what to make of her, especially when she demands her right to a room with one-way glass. There are sparks between them from the beginning, just not necessarily romantic ones! Still, things heat up pretty quickly, and they’re well and truly into each other when the threatening notes start coming…"
Her upcoming book, Inter-Office Relations, was plot inspired. Olivia had been watching two people at work flirting, and she wondered what would happen if one of them seized the initiative and dragged the other off to somewhere private, like the conference room. Her characters, Tim and Jeannie, were born from that. Another book she's finished but not sold, One Night in a Bar, started with a concept: an almost-seedy bar, a conservative woman feeling sorry for herself, and a dark sexy man.
As far as titles, Miss Fix-It just came to her. One Night in a Bar was title-less for a long time. As a WIP, it had the file name "in a bar" so Olivia would know which story it was and the title morphed out of that. Inter-Office Relations had a working title of Conference Room B, but her editor wanted her to "sexy it up," so Olivia held a contest to ask for suggestions.
"Big thanks to everyone who contributed!" she said.
Olivia is also working on a full-length contemporary, as yet unnamed, about a football player and a cleaner/children’s storyteller.
"Nathan and Jess are fast becoming my favorite characters ever," she told me.
I asked her which of the three she'd completed was her favorite.
"Choosing favorites is hard, because blood, sweat and tears went into each of them. Miss Fix-It was my first, and will always occupy a special place in my heart. Tim from Inter-Office Relations is loosely based on a guy I had a crush on while I was writing it, so there are some fond memories there. And One Night in a Bar, well, isn’t that every woman’s fantasy?"
"Do you ever suffer from writer's block?" I wondered. "If so, what do you do about it?"
"I try to take the advice of the legendary Nora Roberts and pretend it doesn’t exist. She’s right; you can fix anything except a blank page. Once, just to put something on the page, I typed ‘The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.’ It actually worked!"
Nora is also her favorite author.
"Aside from the fact that I loooove her books, I truly admire her," Olivia explained. "She is dedicated and prolific, as evidenced by the many releases she has each year, and versatile, as she writes in so many genres. She also understands that writing is a business. I think a lot of authors love writing so much, and get so caught up in the creative side, that they forget that if they want to write full-time, they need to be able to make a living at it."
Johanna Lindsey is another favorite. When Olivia was a young teen, she used to sneak Johanna's book into the house and read them after everyone else was in bed. She was the first romance author Olivia ever read and holds a special place in her heart.
When I asked Olivia about her writing space, she told me, "I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so space is at a premium, especially with my gazillion books. My laptop and I usually set up shop at the kitchen/dining room/living room table, or on the couch, with notes and other papers strewn around.
"That actually led to disaster in December. I got up to get some water, tripped on the power cord and sent the laptop crashing to the floor. My hard drive was damaged, and because I don’t do half-measures, it was apparently shattered, rendering all data unrecoverable. Since I’m lazy about backing things up…just thinking about it makes me teary.
"I also just found out that with the laptop I have, if you want to replace the hard drive you also have to replace the motherboard, which totals to almost more than the computer was worth!"
Actually sitting down to write is the hardest part of writing the book for Olivia.
"Once I start I generally go well, but making myself sit down and start typing…let’s just say I’m the world’s best procrastinator," she admitted.
On a personal note, I asked her about her strangest habit.
"Most people are shocked at this one…I read the last page of a book first. If it doesn’t have a HEA, I don’t want to know about it, especially if it’s going to be suspenseful. I want closure!"
She also uses an interesting saying a lot--"yeah no."
"I’m not sure why, or when I started. To use it in context, if you ask me what I think of reality TV, I’m likely to answer, ‘Yeah no, I’m not a huge fan. All those stupid people drive me insane.’"
Her favorite pizza? "Anything that doesn’t have vegetables on it. I figure, if I’m going to treat myself to pizza, I might as well do it right! Plus, most pizzas with veg on have mushrooms, and I hate mushrooms. They’re a fungus, people! That means they grow out of poo!"
Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Persevere. I used to think that was crappy advice, but you’ve had the idea. You’ve decided to get it down on paper. You slog away, word after word, sharing a major part of yourself.
"Just finishing a book is such a huge accomplishment. It takes determination, dedication and creativity. After that, there’s no point in giving up. Don’t let anything discourage you, even the people who tell you how difficult it is to ‘make it’ as an author. You’ve proven you have what it takes, now you just need to push a little more."
You can keep up with Olivia on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/people/Olivia-Ventura/555497473.