"The Balloon Lady" is the first of my FA fantasies to see print. I'd sold a few stories to the men's mags at this time, but they'd all been fairly restrained and realistic (assuming such a word is apt when you're talking about this stuff). "Balloon Lady," which appeared in the October, 1987, issue of BUF, was to change all that.
The story had been knocking around my noggin for years: before I started selling to the skin mags, I'd even done a version of it as a straight horror story. (Had a much grimmer ending, of course.) When it appeared in BUF, then editor Howard Rich billed it as "the wacky adventures of Jeanie Razton." The story didn't appear that wacky to me, but I guess wackiness is in the eye of the beholder.
BUF left my name off the printed version, which drove me to writing Jeanie/Carla into subsequent stories ("Big Dinners Club," is her first of several cameos; "Carla's Cookbook" let her be the insigator). Over the years, the character has grown substantially bigger - a sign of her developing magical skills, no doubt - but, at the time I wasn't sure how big the editors would allow my heroine to get.
Compared to my later works, "Balloon Lady" is a pretty compact tale: not a lot of extra detail to it, which may or may not please you. In this case, I resisted the urge to rewrite and expand upon it, preferring to leave the thing as-is, dated references and all.
-- Wilson Barbers