Let’s focus on your romance novels. I understand that “Wilderness Bride” is your latest. In this historical, you have Kathleen Stanton fleeing her pampered life in Kingston, New York. Fate leaves her stranded in a small town in Michigan Territory. Why did she feel she had to leave her home? Was she looking for independence or freedom for what her family has planned for her?
Kathleen is fleeing from an abusive fiancé (although at first, readers aren’t sure why she’s running away). She’s an independent woman for the time period and never fit in with how she was “supposed to” behave. This caused a lot of problems between her and her parents. After witnessing something tragic, she finally saw the light and realized leaving was her only option.
Did she prepare for life away from home or just set out for the unknown?
Kathleen left home in a hurry, with no real destination, just “away”. As she traveled the country, she worked several jobs to earn stagecoach fare to keep running. When her money finally ran out, she ended up stranded in Michigan Territory.
What solution does she arrive at to find escape from her past, shelter, food and safety?
In order to get herself out of a jam, Kathleen calls herself Michelle and impersonates a stranger’s mail order bride. The man, Luther, seems nice enough, and she tells herself that the arrangement is temporary until she can move on.
Why does Luther believe there’s something about his new wife “Michelle,” (the name Kathleen is going by) that isn’t quite right?
Luther is suspicious about Michelle because she won’t talk about her past, where she came from, or why she wanted to be a mail order bride. She also has terrible nightmares about a man attacking her.
What do they have in common?
Luther and Michelle are considered outsiders and are not accepted by their families. They both had to fend for themselves at a young age and make their own way in life. This brings them closer together and they learn to rely on each other over the course of the novel.
What does Kathleen learn as she tries to live this other life?
She learns a lot about herself, how to overcome the past, and how to live a completely different (rugged) life in the wilderness. Her eyes are opened to new cultures and she transforms herself into an entirely different person.
What inspired you to write this novel?
The idea of a woman on the run impersonating a stranger’s wife came to me one day. I started thinking about possible plots and different characters. I wanted to tell a story about a young woman who struggles against her past, herself, and her surroundings, and still finds true happiness.
Did you research mail order brides? If so, what did you learn?
Yes, I researched mail order brides. Believe it or not, mail order brides are not a thing of the past. A simple Internet search leads to dozens of sites for modern-day mail order brides from all over the world. In the 1800s, many of the brides were foreigners or widows. There wasn’t much of a screening process, so basically a man wasn’t sure who (or what) he’d be getting himself into—and neither did the wife. (Luther mentions this in passing in the book.) Michelle is young and pretty, and he considers her an excellent catch. Not all mail order bride situations had happy endings, however.
What did you find difficult writing about the couple’s story?
It was hard for me to write a few scenes early in the book where Michelle is bratty and acting spoiled. I had to walk a fine line between showing her out of her element and acting out, but still a sympathetic character. Also, there’s an incredibly emotional scene at the climax of the book that was hard to write because I kept tearing up!
What makes this book different than the others you’ve written?
Wilderness Bride is different for a few reasons. First, it has a very mild heat level. Most of my romances (historicals and contemporaries) are spicier, with more love scenes. It also takes place in a small cabin on a remote mountain and has a very woodsy feel. My other historicals are usually set in estate houses, castles, or other elegant settings. The characters are more down-to-earth and gritty, and I deal with several “not so nice” subjects not often found in a romance.
How can we purchase a copy?
Wilderness Bride is available in ebook and paperback formats from:
Amber Quill Press:http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/1941-Wilderness-Bride.aspx
Here’s the book description:
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.
Thanks for letting me share some insights on Wilderness Bride. I invite readers to contact me on my site with questions or comments, or sign up for my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill.
Kelli A. Wilkins
ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels (for Medallion Press and Amber Quill Press), and four non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels. Kelli had two historical romances published in 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:
Amber Quill Press Author page: http://www.amberquill.com/store/m/149-Kelli-A-Wilkins.aspx
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionmediagroup.com/author/kelli-wilkins/
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