THE BALLERINA AND THE FIGHTER Book 1 by Ursula Sinclair-A Review and Interview with the Author
ABOUT THE BOOK: July 1, 2013
I travel through life dancing.
All I ever wanted to do was dance, as did my best friend. We’d made so many plans together, but one night an explosion changed it all. Only one of us survived, and I promised myself I’d succeed for us both. And I did, until an accident almost ruined my career, but Maze came back into my life when I needed him most. He pulled me out of the depths of my despair. But could I save him now?
I travel through life fighting.
It had always been Ivy; from the first moment I saw her leaping through the air like she had wings to lift her from the ground. But she was my dream, something I wanted more than anything else in my life. I promised myself I would stay away from her. Violence followed me everywhere and I tried to keep her far away from it. She was my point of illumination in the dark tumultuous world I lived in. But I could not stay away from her. Not when I knew she needed me. As much as I needed her. But could she accept me as I am?
REVIEW: The Ballerina and The Fighter is the first book in Ursula Sinclair’s new series of the same name. Written in the New Adult genre, the storyline focuses on two people-Maze and Ivy- who met five years earlier and caught up with one another after their careers have taken off. The story is told from alternating POVs.
The storyline begins with a prologue where Maze and Ivy are first introduced. It is summer vacation and Ivy and her BFF Shelly are spending the holidays at the shore. Ivy meets Maze-an up and coming MMA fighter and a summer romance ensues. But a tragedy will befall Ivy and her personal life becomes fixated on dance and success. With Maze off to Japan to train, Ivy will pursue her career as a professional dancer. In the initial stages of the storyline the characters are under eighteen years of age and the story reads like a young adult novel.
Fast forward five years, and in the interval, very little communication between Maze and Ivy has occurred. When Maze returns to America and finds Ivy as the lead ballerina for a dance company, he wants nothing more than to rekindle what they started years earlier. But Maze has a few secrets-his life as a MMA fighter is not always legal and above the law. When the reality of his lifestyle puts everyone he loves in danger, Maze must make a decision-walk away from the MMA or walk away from the woman he loves.
The writing style is simple but it felt like there were two distinct styles throughout the story. There are a few problems with grammar, spelling and overall cohesion which can be corrected with a good editor. At times I felt like I was being told a story-not invited in. There are several life altering situations that brought drama and tension to the plot.
The character development is interesting. Ivy and Maze both had some issues-in fact-Maze had a habit of leaving without so much as a good bye or KMA and Ivy was willing to accept Maze without so much as an explanation as to why he keeps disappearing. The attraction between the couple cannot be denied but their actions left me wondering about the reality of the situation. Should they not have had some communication with each other in the intervening five years? But this is a novel of fiction and questionable actions are what make up the storyline.
The Ballerina and The Fighter by Ursula Sinclair is a short story that introduces the characters and some of the background information in the series of the same name. Overall, the storyline premise is interesting. It had promise but I wanted (needed) to feel a deeper connection to the characters and their stories. I hope the second installment delves a little deeper into the character development and their backstories. Perhaps some information about the ‘missing’ five years and how it has affected both of their lives.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Ursula and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the release of The Ballerina and the Fighter We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Ursula: I’m the mother of two college age daughters, that just sounds so weird to think much less to write. lol. But my oldest will be a sophomore in the fall and my youngest a freshman. Thank God they’re only a few hours away by car otherwise there’d be a problem. lol I’ve been married for 23 years to a wonderful man. I’m an avid reader and a writer of contemporary, fantasy, and sci/fi sensual romances. Which I write as LaVerne Thompson but I also write romantic suspense and new adult contemporary under the pen name Ursula Sinclair. To date I have 21 books published, two of them I self-published.
TRC: You are an intellectual property attorney by degree. Why the shift to writing romance and fantasy storylines? Have you ever had the opportunity to use your law degree for your own novels and writing?
Ursula: Yep in another life I was an IP attorney, my speciality was trademark law. It’s not as big a shift as you’d think from law to writing storylines, there are many authors who are recovering lawyers such as myself. lol. I spent fifteen years writing briefs and many times I’d use my creative side to lay out the facts so the judges would see things my way. It’s not unlike writing storylines. And yep I have used my legal background, but the funny thing is the one story I have where both the h/h are lawyers I have yet to finish and I started it years ago. lol I might have to pull that out and dust it off soon.
TRC: Would you please tell us about your alter ego-LaVerne Thompson and what we can expect from LaVerne in 2013?
Ursula: hahahahaha I’m working on two things I’d like to finish by year’s end under LaVerne the re-release of Come To Me a contemporary romance that was first released about 3 years ago but I’ve added quite a bit to it and will self-publish it by summer’s end. There’s also a sci/fi I’m co-writing, The Other Side, but that won’t be done this year. The other project is to finish book 2 in my Children of The Waves series, Sea Storm a fantasy romance for Decadent Publishing. But as Ursula I also want to finish if not release Book 2 of my ballerina story, by the end of the year.
THE BALLERINA AND THE FIGHTER is your latest release. Would you please tell us something about the storyline?
Ursula: The title says a lot about it. It’s the story of a young ballerina, Ivy, who meets a young man, Maze, who’s a MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter. But the kind of fighting he does is truly underground, unsanctioned by any legitimate organization and run by the Chinese mafia. They first meet when they were 17 and 19 but they’re young just beginning their careers, unsure and circumstances part them. Five years later Maze comes back into her life but he’s even more involved in dangerous activities and she’s this successful ballerina who dances with a premier ballet company. Maze knows his life is not for her, he tries to protect Ivy from the darker side of his life by staying away, but Ivy gets hurt and then nothing will keep him away. Ivy for her part is drawn to Maze from the beginning and hurt by the way he’s constantly pushing her away. But at the same time she’s been with him twice now when violence found him. While she fears that part of his life she’s not pushing him away. As different as their worlds are they are actually a lot alike. Both driven, focused and dedicated to their crafts.
TRC: Who or what was the influence behind the storyline? Were any of the characters or the storyline based on reality or an amalgamation?
Ursula: My youngest is a classically trained ballerina. I’ve been involved in the world of ballet for 15 years so I know it quite well and always wanted to write a story about a ballerina. I know what they’ve gone through to excel. The fall I describe in the story is one that actually happened but the rest of the story all from my imagination. I always knew my ballerina’s story but wasn’t sure about her hero, so kept it on the back burner knowing his story would come to me when it was ready. Then one day on-line I saw this ad for an MMA tournament and that’s when I knew my ballerina had to have an MMA fighter by her side. I love MMA. I grew up watching Bruce Lee, Kung Fu anyone. lol I know dating myself. There are other similar stories that influence the world I’ve created here, but Maze’s world stems from Enter The Dragon and an amalgamation of that type of fighting.
TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading roles in The Ballerina and the Fighter, which models or actors would best represent your ideal image?
Ursula: That’s easy Maze is Cam Gigandet, have you seen him in Burlesque or Never Back Down? My ballerina is a little harder to peg. I actually searched for stock pictures of ballerinas/dancers for use on my cover but none had that firebird leap I mention in the book with the dexterity and height the model is doing on the cover. So I used a shot of my daughter. But if I had to cast someone it would be Misty Copeland a soloist ballerina for ABT (American Ballet Theatre).
TRC: When writing a storyline, do your characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Ursula: lol I tried that once, directing my characters and they had a mutiny. So nope never trying that again. My characters tell me what to write and I go along for the ride.
TRC: How do you keep the plot unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?
Ursula: I just think of what I’ve read before and do something else. Yes boy meets girl and we all know they end up together, maybe, eventually, lol. But it’s the emotional journey they take us on that makes it different and worthwhile. Yeah sometimes it comes off as unbelievable but not impossible. lol Like Maze fighting off three guys with knives. It’s not impossible for a highly skilled trained fighter to do. Just like it’s not impossible for a ballerina to continue dancing on pointe, that’s on the tips of her toes even though he/she is in great pain. That I’ve seen happen more times than I’d like.
TRC: Are you a plotter or a panster (write by the ‘seat of your pants’)?
Ursula: I’m more of a panster. Love living in my head. But there have been a storyline or two where I had to not so much plot it out but make notes of all the characters and how they fit into the frame work of the story in my head.
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavor?
Ursula: Great question. When I write if I find myself grinning, I know I’ve hit something within myself that will touch others reading those words. And when I laugh out loud I know I’ve struck gold, same with when I’m writing and getting all teary eyed and rushing to get through the scene so I can re-read it to see if it has the same impact on a read through. I guess a writer must also be able to experience the emotion that they’re trying to pull from the reader. I think a writer fails to pull out the emotion from their characters or a scene if when writing it or reading it over they feel nothing. If as a writer I’m reading what should be an emotional scene and I don’t stop and say ‘damned that’s good or damned that’s hot’ neither will my readers. When I write I have to open myself up emotionally otherwise it’s just words on a page and the reader takes it that way.
TRC: Many writers bounce ideas with family and friends. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Ursula: Sometimes my husband, he’s come up with an idea or two. But I have a great group of fellow writers I can call on to mull thoughts and ideas through: Stephanie Williams my partner in crime, Scarlet Hunter, VR, Kylie Gray.
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Ursula: Right now Book 2 for The Ballerina & The Fighter and later today Sea Storm.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Favorite Food: Unadulterated chocolate
Favorite TV Show: ooohh I have 2- Scandal and The Big Bang
Last Movie You Saw: Man of Steel
Dark or Milk chocolate: lol dark
Favorite Flower: Peach colored roses
Secret Celebrity Crush: No secret Johnny Depp
Pet Peeve: Drivers who don’t know right turn on green have the right of way.
TRC: Thank you Ursula for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of The Ballerina and the Fighter. We wish you all the best.