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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Saturday Storyteller Interview: Kelli A. Wilkins

What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name is Kelli Wilkins and I live in New Jersey with my husband. I was raised in rural upstate New York.
Tell us a bit about your latest release.
Actually, 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. 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?
(Look for it soon as an ebook and paperback on Amazon and B&N.)
My two other romances of 2014 are straight (M/F) historicals. Wilderness Bride is a traditional romance set in the Michigan Territory in 1823. A young woman on the run impersonates a stranger’s mail order bride and goes off to live with him in his isolated mountain cabin. This full-length novel is a blend of tender romance and adventure. The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Bride-Kelli-Wilkins/dp/1611248361/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398778449&sr=1-1&keywords=wilderness+bride
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. The book link is: http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Indenture-Kelli-Wilkins-ebook/dp/B00JMHZNIG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1398257669&sr=1-1&keywords=dangerous+indenture
As you can see, my romances are very diverse in genre and heat level. I enjoyed writing all of these novels and I hope readers fall in love with the characters the way I did.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration for my books comes from just about anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes writers will see or hear something in passing that sparks an idea and they mull it over for a while until it becomes a story. In many cases, I’ll have a book or a character “show up” in my head one day when I’m minding my own business. Naturally I have to stop what I’m doing and write everything down! That happened with Dangerous Indenture and Wilderness Bride. I knew the characters and the main plot, but then I had to dig a little deeper to develop the sub-plots and details.
A Secret Match was a bit different. This book 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’ll 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. So you see, inspiration can come from anywhere!
How do you go about creating the perfect "Swoon" worthy man?
I let the characters tell me about the type of man they’d like to swoon over! Since all of my books vary in heat level and genre, the heroines all have different “types.” Odaria from The Viking’s Witch falls for a strong alpha male named Rothgar. Sherrie from Trust with Hearts is content with gentle Curtis, and Shauna from Dangerous Indenture is perfectly happy with slightly naughty and always improper Ashton.
In general, my heroes are basically decent men with their own unique quirks, habits, and flaws. I make sure they have room to grow and enough of a “strong” side so they’re not mushy or a pushover. I like to give my heroines and heroes some conflict and not make things too easy for them or their relationships. But for the most part, my heroes are attractive, reliable men who would do anything to protect the person they love.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? Why are they your favourite?
I love all my characters, they’re like my children! I can’t pick just one that I love best. I think each time I create a new character he or she is my favourite while I’m writing. But I have a great time creating all of them and fall in love with each one as I write the book.
Some stand out as more memorable than others: Elara from A Most Unusual Princess and Dalton’s Temptation; Luther and Michelle from Wilderness Bride; Rothgar and Odaria from The Viking’s Witch; Vin from A Perfect Match; and now, Everett from A Secret Match. These characters are strong-willed, have a fun sense of humour, or are just a lot of fun to write for.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
When I’m not working on my writing (whether it’s drafting a new story, revising, promoting etc.), I like to read, go to flea markets, travel, and garden. I also sit around the yard or the house and do nothing if the mood strikes.
How do you decide how hot or not your book is going to be?
I don’t really decide that—I let the characters determine it for me. All of my books vary in heat level from mild (The Dark Lord) to super scorching-hot (A Midsummer Night’s Delights), but I don’t set out to write a “hot” book. My characters come from different backgrounds and sexual experiences, with different likes and dislikes, so as I’m writing, they tell me what’s going to happen in a love scene.
Some characters are more open and willing to try anything, from using toys to experimenting with same-sex partners or multiple partners—others would be turned off by something like that, so it all depends on the character. And sometimes they’ll surprise me. For example, when I started writing Dangerous Indenture, I was surprised to learn that Shauna wasn’t a virgin. And as I wrote A Midsummer Night’s Delights, I discovered that Julian and Annabelle were open to experimenting with same-sex encounters. (This was made even more obvious in the two sequels, A Midwinter Night’s Delights and Ultimate Night’s Delights.)
So, even though I create the characters, I never know what to expect from one book to the next!
Tell us something that might surprise our readers.

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. Writing horror stories lets me explore different characters, settings, and plots I couldn’t use in a romance. I like to say that one half of my brain writes romance and the other half writes horror.
And 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 type up the book. I add details and edit out parts I’m not crazy about as I go, so by the time I have a typed version it’s almost like a second draft.

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. I welcome feedback from readers and you can contact me with questions or comments. Readers can sign up for my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, here: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb


ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, 18 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.
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:
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb


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