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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Saturday Storyteller Interview: Kelli Wilkins

Please welcome Kelli to our blog today as she shares her new releases and takes the hot seat to answer our questions!
What’s your name and where do you come from?
Hi everyone! My name is Kelli Wilkins and I’m an author with Amber Quill Press and Medallion Press. I live in New Jersey, but I was raised in rural upstate New York. My romances range from mildly sensual to super-hot and cover nearly every genre: contemporary, gay, historical, fantasy, and paranormal.
Tell us a bit about your latest release.
I have two new releases! First up is my sixteenth Amber Quill Press romance, Wilderness Bride. This historical is set in the Michigan Territory in 1823. It is available in ebook and paperback formats. The book link is: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx.
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 harbouring 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.
***
My second new release is Dangerous Indenture. It’s a historical romance blended with mystery set in Pennsylvania Colony. Dangerous Indenture is my second Medallion Press romance and is available exclusively as an ebook. The purchase links are: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/
and
Here’s the summary:
Dangerous Indenture
Shauna Farrow, eager to escape her past in Ireland, 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 Shauna’s 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 unsavoury 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.
***
It’s rare for an author to have two books come out in the same month, and even rarer for both to be historicals. I enjoyed writing these novels and I hope readers fall in love with the characters the way I did.


Where do you get your inspiration from?
Each book comes to me in a different way. Sometimes an entire story “jumps” into my head, and I’ll know everything all at once. When this happens, I have to drop whatever it is I’m doing or working on (even if it’s another book) and get a rough draft of the new book on paper. (It’s sort of like watching a movie and trying to write down each scene and dialog as it unfolds.) This has happened with several books: Wilderness Bride, A Perfect Match, A Most Unusual Princess, Trust with Hearts, and The Viking’s Witch.

Other times, I’ll get bits and pieces of the story and parts of the characters. Once in a while, I’ll have a character come first, and as I get to “know” and develop the character, I’ll find out the story. When I know the story, the other pieces fall into place, like a puzzle. (That happened with Dangerous Indenture, Four Days with Jack, Beauty & the Bigfoot, Killer in Wolf’s Clothing, and Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover.)

Before I start a book, I need to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen to them. If I’m not frantically scribbling the entire book and have time to plot, I’ll outline the scenes and then start writing. As I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline. I often add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Writing a book is always an adventure, and I never know where the characters or stories will take me.
I also keep a folder of ideas, and if I’m ever at a loss for my next project, I read through the folder and see what story/plot/idea appeals to me to write next.
How do you go about creating the perfect "Swoon" worthy man?
I don’t think I “create” the heroes in my books, I think I “channel” them from the muses! I never really sit down and say “This is Luther, he’s the hero and he’s attractive and sexy because…” I let the characters come to me and tell me about themselves as I write. I make sure that the heroes are not 100% perfect—they have bad habits and can be moody or stubborn, like anyone. I blend their traits (or faults) into the story as I write.
All characters need to have two sides and be fleshed out with full-fledged backstories (they had to be living a life before the book started!), secrets, likes, dislikes, and sexual histories. If the hero is completely perfect in every way, the story would get boring fast. So I add some psychological or physical issues to my heroes (and heroines). Maybe our hero has a deep dark secret, has self-esteem issues, or pretends to be something he’s not.
But I make sure that all of my heroes are physically (and sexually) appealing to the heroine (and readers). They generally are strong, attractive, and have good senses of humour. Readers have fallen in love with my heroes, so I think this recipe works.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? Why are they your favourite?
I love all my books and all of my characters – so I don’t really have an absolute favourite. I think I’m “most in love” with the characters in whatever book I’m writing at the time. All my books were fun to write, and I enjoyed following the characters through their adventures. I think readers do, too!

However, when I wrote the fantasy novella A Most Unusual Princess, I liked Dalton and Elara so much that I wrote a full-length sequel about them, Dalton’s Temptation. Then, while writing Dalton’s Temptation, I absolutely fell in love with Prince Allan, and knew he had to have his own book – so I wrote The Pauper Prince. (This trilogy is my husband’s favourite.)
What do you do to unwind and relax?
When I take a break from writing to relax, I hang out with friends and family, go for walks, exercise, or read. (As a rule, I don’t read when I’m writing - and I don’t write when I’m reading.) Other than that, I like to travel, go to flea markets, and garden.
How do you decide how hot or not your book is going to be?
I don’t! I’m not really “in charge” of that, and I don’t decide “I’ll write a scorching-hot book.” I let the characters in each story determine the sexual content. Every book is different, and so are the sexual lives of the characters. They all have a sexual history (whether curious, shy, very open, or unsure) that comes into play during the course of the story.
Writing in different romance genres also influences the sexual content. In Wilderness Bride, Michelle is innocent about things, yet, curious about Luther. Once she decides he’s “the one” for her, they develop a physical relationship. Shauna from Dangerous Indenture is bold and brazen and once she sets her sights on Ashton, she has to have him! David in Four Days with Jack (a gay contemporary) is a modern, though sexually unsure man who’s interested in experimenting. Sherrie (from my contemporary, Trust with Hearts) had her heart broken, so she’s not going to jump into a relationship with just anyone.
Writing for the different characters and their individual situations helps keep things interesting and fresh from book to book.
Is the stuff you write about from experience or mostly imagination?
My plots and characters are 98% imagination. But all writing has some basis in real-world experience – just not in the ways most people think. I might get an idea for a story (let’s say, man falls in love with the neighbour, or he has to rescue his love from a killer) from reading an article, having a dream, or talking to someone, but then as a writer, I use my imagination to take that “regular idea” and make it my own, with my characters, my plot, and my writing style.
But because I write romances, people think that the love scenes are “confessionals” or are inspired by what I do in my personal life. Not so! Let’s use the F word here – it’s Fiction.
Fiction is made up, no matter what inspires it. The characters in my books are doing these things, not me.


And believe it or not, people have asked me if I “act out” the love scenes at home. I tell them that I don’t act out what happens in my horror stories, so why would I act out my romances? I let them know that I have a very vivid imagination and I can create anything—whether it’s a vampire story, a romance, or even a vampire romance!


Tell us something that might surprise our readers.
Here’s something surprising in this day and age: I write everything in longhand. When I get an idea for a story, I write my outline, let the ideas for the characters and plot marinate in my head for a while, and then go back and start writing on paper. After the first draft is complete, I start typing up the book. I add details and edit out parts I’m not crazy about as I type, so by the time I have a typed version it’s almost like a second draft.
And when I’m not writing romances, I also write horror fiction. Dozens of my horror short stories have appeared in print and online anthologies. I like switching between the two genres because I get to flex my writing muscles and my imagination. I like to say that one half of my brain writes romance and the other half writes horror.


Thanks for letting me visit! It was fun sharing my thoughts with readers. I invite everyone to visit my site (www.KelliWilkins.com) to read excerpts, reviews, and summaries of all my romances. You can also contact me with questions, comments, or sign up for my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill.


ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Amber Quill Press and Medallion Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in spring 2014. Wilderness Bride from Amber Quill Press: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx) and Dangerous Indenture from Medallion Press: http://medallionmediagroup.com/books/dangerous-indenture/.
Kelli publishes a blog: (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com) 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, http://www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.
Catch up with Kelli on the Web:


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