My interview with RWA Online
Note: This article used with permission by RWA Online, Chapter #136 from their January/February 2011 issue of LoveBytes.
Interview with Olivia Ventura
By Karen Jones
Olivia, would you tell us a little about Miss Fix-It?
Veronica (always Vee, never Ronnie) is 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…
How did you come up with the idea for Miss Fix-It?
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. 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).
Why did you make Vee so girly?
I was keen to emphasize that being a tradesman (person) didn’t mean that Vee had to be butch. Just because she likes working with her hands doesn’t mean they can’t be nicely manicured hands! Plus, that’s just the person that she is—I couldn’t just change her.
What was it about your book that made your editor want to buy it?
It’s fun. While there’s a touch of suspense to the overall story, and some emotional hang-ups between Vee and Cole, overall Miss Fix-It is a fun book, and eminently smile-worthy.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing Miss Fix-It?
Trying to keep Vee from becoming a bitch. She didn’t mean to be one, but she has little patience and tends to speak her mind, so it came across that way sometimes. I had to keep stopping and thinking, how would I feel if someone said that to me…?
How much research did you conduct for Miss Fix-It and what was the most interesting thing you did while conducting your research?
I didn’t need to do a lot of research, but I did spend some time with tools! The guy at the local hardware patiently walked me through what all the tools do. I also got a manicure and then went to IKEA and bought a bookcase, which I assembled all by myself. I was very impressed when my nails still looked good afterward!
My favorite part was investigating different styles for Vee’s engagement ring. Oh, the sparklies!
Why did you decide to write contemporaries?
It wasn’t really a decision, it was just the way the stories came. I’ve currently got a short erotic romance doing the rounds, and another in the works, and my full-length WIP is also a contemporary.
What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer?
Miss Fix-It started with a concept: female tradesman. The character of Veronica came next, kind of full-grown and ready to go. The rest flowed from there—I’m definitely not a plotter, I just have a vague idea of the ultimate destination, and maybe a few of the stops along the way. I wrote Miss Fix-It sequentially, but it doesn’t always seem to go that way for me.
Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write?
Google. If it can’t solve my problem/question, it points me in the right direction. And I keep reminding myself of what Nora Roberts said: you can’t fix a blank page.
How do you make time to write?
I honestly don’t know. Sometimes I get lucky, and poof! there’s a magical block of four hours free. Mostly, I cram it in between other things. Even a couple hundred words here and there is better than nothing.
When you are writing, who is in control? You or your characters?
It depends on the mood we’re all in!
Who has had the most influence on your writing?
This is impossible to answer…next question, please!
Have you had any “ah ha” moments as a writer?
All the time. Mind you, I have them all the time anyway. Generally at three in the morning.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Just keep writing. I used to hear that and think it was useless advice, but it’s not. Actually finishing a book is a massive achievement, and if writing makes you happy, don’t let anything put you off.
Why did you decide to become an author?
I always wanted to be one. I have so much fun with stories—when I was little, I sometimes let them spill into my life. It took a while for me to understand that society frowns on making stuff up. Do you know, it’s even called lying?
Why did you decide to become a romance author?
That’s just what I write. I love a HEA, and I love seeing the push-pull between two people when they’re starting something up.
Would you tell us your story of getting “the call?”
Ah, that magical email…the one I had to read six times, and still thought might be a hoax. Once I’d convinced myself it was FOR REAL, I called Mum and let her freak out for both of us. Sometimes I wonder if I’m dreaming still.
What was the most exciting thing that happened to you after you signed your contract – besides receiving your first check as a published author?
Having people tell me they’d bought my book. The first time, I almost said ‘huh?’
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Well, aside from drudging away at the day job (which I don’t think I’ll ever get away from), I’d probably be reading.
How does your family feel about your career as a romance author?
My dad asks me why I don’t write a thriller like David Baldacci. He’s incredibly proud of me, but can’t quite get past the romance thing.
What are you doing to promote your book?
Talking to people. Facebook, Twitter (which I’d never used before) and anything else I can get my hands on. I’m sending copies of Miss Fix-It to all the review sites I can find, although people have told me that doesn’t necessarily affect sales. I’m also open to suggestions…
What books can we expect to see in the near future?
I have a short erotic romance called Conference Room B that’s currently being shopped to publishers. It’s about a woman who quits her job and then celebrates by inviting her workplace crush to have sex with her in the conference room…only she doesn’t end up leaving after all, and has to face her feelings for him. I’m hoping to have a response on this in Feb, so cross your fingers for me!