Friday, November 7, 2014

Interview With Author Kelli A. Wilkins

Interview with Author Kelli A. Wilkins

  1. Tell us about your book and how the story came to be.  

This year I set a new record for myself. I had three romances published, and they’re all very different. My latest is A Secret Match. It’s a contemporary gay romance set in the world of professional wrestling.  

A Secret Match is a follow-up (of sorts) to my other wrestling romance, A Perfect Match. That book was all about a straight couple (Vin and Danni) and Everett (the main character from A Secret Match) was a secondary character. I loved writing for Ev and always thought “one day” I’d give him a book of his own, but I didn’t have a clue as to what the story would be. I put thoughts of him aside and then one morning he popped into my head with a four-line book summary. Within an hour, I had the whole story in my head and I started writing.

Here’s the summary:
 A Secret Match
Everett Kinkade is a world-famous professional wrestler and the sexy heartthrob of millions of adoring female fans. But Ev has a secret he doesn’t dare share with anyone. He’s gay.

After years of being Ev’s secret lover, Josh is tired of hiding in the shadows and wants Ev to openly acknowledge their relationship. Coming out is the last thing Ev wants and fears it will ruin his career.

One night in a moment of truth, Everett outs himself on live TV. There’s no going back, and his announcement sparks a firestorm of problems – both personally and professionally. He’s forced to come to grips with who he really is while facing down a tag team out to destroy him.

Torn between living a lie and losing the man he loves, Ev has risked everything… can he find a balance between his career and his heart?

The link is:

My two other romances of 2014 are straight (M/F) historicals. Wilderness Bride is a traditional romance set in the Michigan Territory in 1823. This full-length novel is a blend of tender romance and adventure.  

The idea for this book started with a simple premise: a woman on the run impersonates a mountain man’s mail-order bride and lives in his cabin in the woods. From there, I thought about the characters and how they would interact, learn to live with each other, and naturally fall in love. Michelle and Luther are very different people—sort of like a city mouse and a country mouse—and I played on their differences in lifestyles, clothing, expectations, etc. throughout the book.

As Luther and Michelle get to know each other (and fight for each other) they realize they have a lot more in common than they once thought. They both are on their own in a rough, unforgiving world, and both had to fend for themselves to survive, with little or no family support. All of that brings them closer together and makes their love stronger.

Here’s the summary:

Wilderness Bride
A woman running from her past…straight into the arms of a wild stranger

In a moment of desperation, Kathleen Stanton flees her pampered life in Kingston, New York and ends up stranded in a small town in the Michigan Territory. Out of money and lacking a means of escape, she impersonates a handsome stranger’s mail-order bride. Kathleen calls herself Michelle and begins living a lie with her “husband,” Luther, in an isolated mountain cabin. She tells herself the arrangement is temporary until she can move on.
Luther can’t believe his luck when his beautiful blonde bride arrives, but something doesn’t feel right about his new wife. She has terrifying nightmares involving a man named Roger and is reluctant to talk about where she came from. But Luther is harboring a secret about his background and fears Michelle will abandon him if she learns the truth about him—and his family.

The couple tries to maintain their rocky relationship as they work to fight brutal townspeople and overcome harsh living conditions. When circumstances force Michelle to stay longer than she expected, she succumbs to her growing attraction and falls in love with Luther. But when they finally give in to their desires and agree to become a proper man and wife, a dark figure from Michelle’s past catches up with her, putting her and Luther in grave danger.

 Dangerous Indenture is a spicy historical with mystery elements set in Pennsylvania Colony. Shauna Farrow leaves Ireland to become an indentured servant to the strange Stewart family. She falls in love with her master’s roguish son, Ashton and together they try to solve the murder of a previous servant.

Here’s the summary:

Dangerous Indenture
Eager to escape her past in Ireland, Shauna Farrow signs on to become an indentured servant to Joshua Stewart, a wealthy man in Pennsylvania Colony.

But a life of servitude quickly turns to drudgery, and her hopes for starting over and creating a better life for herself are waning—until she meets her master’s roguish son, Ashton.

Shauna fights her growing attraction to Ashton, torn between propriety and acting on her emotions. But amidst their flirting, something dark stirs. Shauna soon discovers why no other servants will work for the strange Stewart family.

Stewart House has an unsavory reputation: a previous servant died there under mysterious circumstances. When another servant goes missing in the middle of the night, Shauna is convinced that a member of the family is responsible.

When Shauna’s investigation leads her too close to the truth, it’s up to Ashton to save her before time runs out.

Dangerous Indenture is one of those books that jumped into my head. One day, I overheard the name Shawna Farrell, but I thought I’d heard Shauna Farrow. The name stuck with me and I wrote it down. A few minutes later, I knew all about her: she was an Irish indentured servant who came to Pennsylvania Colony and worked at a house where another servant was murdered. Once I knew that, I started outlining the book.

As you can see, my romances are very diverse in genre and heat level. I had a lot of fun writing all of these novels, and I hope readers enjoy them.

  1. What three words best describe your main characters?

Over the years, I’ve created dozens of interesting and unique characters. The main characters in my three recent books could be described as: determined, flawed, and hopeful.

  1. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

I don’t necessarily “create” my characters. For me, it’s more like I’m meeting them, or discovering them and their stories. Sometimes my characters will “show up” and tell me about themselves. Other times, something I hear or see will get me thinking and before I know it, a new character has emerged.

I like to take bits and pieces of traits, likes, and dislikes I see in strangers, friends, or whoever and mix and match them into a character. I did a lot with character traits in Dangerous Indenture and Wilderness Bride. It’s fun to create their unique quirks.

Finding the right name for a character is sometimes the hardest part of writing a story. Some characters will tell me their names right away (like Odaria from The Viking’s Witch, Sherrie from Trust with Hearts, and Elara from A Most Unusual Princess), but many times I have to think about the name and try out a few different ones before I get the right one. Once in a while, I’ll write a few scenes referring to the character as “Ralph” just to get the words on paper. After a while, the character’s real name will come to me.

I make sure that my heroines and heroes aren’t too perfect—every character needs to have faults and something to work toward overcoming or improving. My heroines tend to be strong females who stand up for themselves and aren’t going to settle for just any guy who comes along. I like to give them a sense of independence, yet when they meet the right man, they want to be with him, (like Michelle from Wilderness Bride). Heroes also need to be strong, but not overly aggressive. Rothgar, from The Viking’s Witch comes off as an “alpha” male and domineering, but then we see a different side to him and realize that he’s a sensitive, guilt-torn guy.

  1. Do your characters follow your plot path or do they take on a life of their own? Do you keep them in check?

Each book and every character comes to me in a different way. Before I start writing, I make sure I have an outline completed—and I know what the first line of the book will be. As I develop the story, I outline each scene, what the purpose is, which character’s point-of-view the scene will be in, high points of the scene, and any snippets of dialog I want to include. When I sit down to write the book I have a map of where the story is going. I find that it’s easier (and faster) for me to write this way and I don’t get lost in the middle or forget something I wanted to include.

But as I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline. I might add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Sometimes I’ll be writing a scene and the characters “take over” and decide the scene should go a different way, or something I planned on happening changes. When that happens, I go with it and see where the characters are leading me. I’ll write scenes for them and delete them later if they don’t work or if they’re not a good fit for the plot. I think it gets the characters’ needs out of my system and I treat those scenes like writing exercises.

I thought I knew all about my characters before I started writing The Pauper Prince and A Midsummer Night’s Delights—but I was wrong. Even though I created them, I was surprised to discover a different side to Prince Allan (in The Pauper Prince) and Julian (from A Midsummer Night’s Delights).

The plot for A Perfect Match came to me in a dream, so I wrote the outline based on the dream, and then wrote the book from there. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen, but it’s nice when it does! Writing a book is always an adventure for me, and I never know where the characters or stories will take me.

  1. Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

No, I don’t. Occasionally I suffer from writer’s procrastination, though! Basically that’s when my brain says “enough!” and goes on strike when I’m supposed to be editing or revising a book. Usually this happens when I’m overloaded and trying to do too much. To counteract it, I take a break and let my mind recharge and rest. I go for walks, exercise, read something I didn’t write, or watch TV. After a day or so, I’m ready to get back to work.

  1. What types of books do you like to read?

Growing up, I hung out at the library and read anything I could find. I started out reading Stephen King short stories and other horror stories, but I also read all the Little House and Nancy Drew books. Today, I read everything from A-Z: fiction, non-fiction, history, self-help, or whatever looks interesting.

  1. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I like to read, travel, go to creepy/haunted places, visit flea markets (they’re great for story ideas), and garden.

  1. What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Right now, I’m between projects. I’m outlining several new romances, including a full-length historical, a paranormal, and another gay contemporary.

In the horror department, I’m working on a few short stories. My latest Halloween tale, “Home for Halloween” was just published in the Moon Shadows horror anthology. Read more about it here:

One of my goals for next year is to enter the world of self-publishing. I have lots of ideas for different types of non-fiction ebooks and an erotic romance series. All I need is time to develop them!

  1. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

I started out taking writing classes. They really helped me develop my skills and I always recommend that anyone who wants to be a writer take classes. One of the best pieces of advice I got in class was: go for it! Don’t be afraid to submit your story. You might be rejected, you might get suggestions for revisions, or you might get published. If you never submit your story, it’ll never go anywhere. Write the best story you can, take a leap of faith, and submit it. Every writer starts off by sending out that first story….and you never know where it will lead.

  1. Where can readers find you and your books?

Thanks for letting me visit! It was fun sharing my thoughts with readers. I invite everyone to visit my site ( to read excerpts, reviews, and summaries of all my romances. I welcome feedback from readers, so contact me with questions or comments. You can sign up for my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, here:

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 4 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had three romances published in 2014: A Secret Match, Wilderness Bride, and Dangerous Indenture. Look for her story, “Home for Halloween” in the Moon Shadows horror anthology here:

Kelli publishes a blog: ( filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli's Quill, and posts on Facebook and Twitter. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, to learn more about all of her writings.

Catch up with Kelli on the Web:
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