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Living a life of romance

Kait BallengerPerhaps it’s every woman’s dream to spend her days lying on the sofa, getting caught up in romance novels and fantasizing what it might be like to live a life similar to the characters in those books.

But imagine if you wrote them.  Now that might be even more fulfilling.

Well that is exactly what Stetson University alumna Kait Ballenger (pictured right) has the pleasure of doing each day. On June 25, her first work with Harlequin Books will be published and available for sale. To introduce Ballenger’s books, Harlequin asked her to write a short story, which would be the prequel to her books. This prequel, entitled After Dark, features two stories: Shadow Hunter by Ballenger, and a story by Gena Showalter.

Shadow Hunter tells the story of Damian Brock and siblings Mark and Tiffany Solo, vampire hunters, and the romance than ensues between Damian and Tiffany.

Another story, Twilight Hunter, was sold to Harlequin as Ballenger’s first novel. Set in Rochester, N.Y., Jace McCannon is a werewolf on the hunt to catch a killer of young women.  Frankie Amato is a female werewolf who is the pack master and a strong, powerful heroine in the story.

After Dark is available on June 25and Twilight Hunter, Ballenger’s first full-length novel, will hit shelves on August 27. The three full books in Ballenger’s series will be completed by February 2014 and she expects Harlequin to also commission an additional three in the future.

Raised in Taylor, Mich., a Detroit suburb, her father’s profession brought the family to Central Florida when she was 15. She excelled at DeLand High School, taking international baccalaureate advanced classes to earn college credit.

After Dark

After Dark contains Ballenger’s story, Shadow Hunter.

Ballenger quickly realized the smaller class sizes at Stetson and the ability to truly know her fellow students far outweighed the offerings of larger state universities on her initial list of colleges to check out.

While her classmates will remember her as Kaityln Schultz, she began her studies at Stetson first as a Spanish major, then moved to a double major in both Spanish and English, and ultimately completed her degree in 2009 with a major in English alone.

Twilight Hunter

Twilight Hunter is Ballenger’s first novel for Harlequin.

After receiving a scholarship for her work as a Spanish major, Ballenger made a trip during her sophomore year to Vilcabamba, Ecuador, where she realized what her life’s work would be.

“I’m sitting in Ecuador but all I could think about was my writing,” she recalled. Ballenger took several classes with Jamil Khader, in English and Women and Gender Studies, but her favorite class was creative writing taught by Mark Powell, who became her mentor.  And it was in this particular class that she initially met her future husband, John Ballenger, son of the former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Grady Ballenger. John and Kait were married in March 2012.

With the mission to find an agent for her writing and to make this her profession, she joined the Romance Writers of America, which helped her learn the industry and the necessary steps for success. While at its 2011 conference in New York City, she met the head of an agency in an elevator who ultimately referred her to a colleague, Nicole Resciniti, who became her agent.

“I received a call from Nicole within 24 hours after she received my manuscript,” Ballenger said. With a bright future in writing, Ballenger is also working on a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Spaulding University in Louisville, Ky., which she plans to complete in fall 2013.

by Mary M. McCambridge