Can you tell our readers about yourself and how you started writing.
Kelli: Hi everyone! 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. I’m an eclectic writer—I write horror and romance. Some people think that’s an odd combination, but I like to say that one half of my brain writes horror and the other half writes romance. (Occasionally, I combine the two into a paranormal romance!)
I’ve been writing horror short stories since I was in elementary school and the idea of having my stories read by people everywhere always interested me. I never tried to get published until I enrolled in a commercial writer’s program as an adult. People liked reading my short stories, and I liked writing them, so I decided to submit them for publication. From there, my “official” writing career was born. Since then, my horror shorts have appeared in print and online anthologies including Wrapped in White, Mistresses of the Macabre, Haunted, The Four Horsemen, and more.
I got my start with full-length romances when I entered the Amber Quill Press “Amber Heat” writing contest. I submitted three novellas (A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord, and The Sexy Stranger) and they took all three! My seventeenth book with them, Wilderness Bride (a traditional historical), was released in April 2014. And my third gay romance, A Secret Match, came out on August 31, 2014. That book is the follow-up to my straight contemporary wrestling romance, A Perfect Match.
When people ask me how I can switch up genres so easily, I like to say, “I’m a writer, I can write anything.” And I do!
You aren’t just a prolific romance author, but a multi-genre author within romance. What genres have you written in romance? Do you have a preference?
Kelli: I’ve written just about every romance genre: contemporary, gay, paranormal, historical, fantasy… in every heat level ranging from mild to super-scorching hot. The last four books I wrote were very diverse: Ultimate Night’s Delights is an erotic historical/fantasy with group encounters and same-sex relationships, Wilderness Bride is a mild, traditional historical, Dangerous Indenture is a spicy historical with mystery elements, and A Secret Match is a hot gay contemporary.
I write wherever my stories take me, but most of my romances are historical or historical/fantasy. I like writing historicals because I can explore different settings and time periods, but I’m not “married” to one particular genre.
What drew you to the M/M genre? Tell us about your gay romances.
Kelli: I always knew that one day I’d write a gay romance, and I’d been batting ideas around in my head for a while. I was in-between books and had just finished editing A Perfect Match (which has a gay secondary character) when I heard about the Amber Allure “Postcards from Paradise” line, and I knew I had my next project, Four Days with Jack.
At first, all I had was a basic plot (straight guy comes out to his gay best friend), a title, and one pivotal scene. From there, I let my imagination wander and came up with the resort, the rest of the plot, and the unusual cast of characters that Jack and David encounter.
My second M/M book, Killer in Wolf’s Clothing also was written for a particular line at Amber Allure. It’s a different take on the werewolf legend. This paranormal contains a lot of humor mixed in with spicy love scenes, and was a lot of fun to write.
Ultimate Night’s Delights is an erotic historical/fantasy that has M/M, F/F, and ménage. It’s the last book in a series that includes A Midsummer Night’s Delights and A Midwinter Night’s Delights. (Although they’re connected, each book stands alone as an individual read.) The first book starts out “straight” then readers are quickly drawn into a world of swapping, naughty games, and anything goes fun.
What is your favorite part of being a published author? What is your least favorite part?
Kelli: My favorite part of writing is the actual writing of the book. I like creating the outline and developing the plot and characters, but the story really comes alive for me as I’m scribbling away. (And I do scribble—I write everything in longhand with paper and pen!) Writing the first draft lets me get inside the characters’ heads and dig deep into the story. It frees me to write whatever pops into my head.
However, once the “fun” part of writing is over, then the real “work” begins. Revising, editing, and proofreading the story is necessary, but it’s not terribly creative. You have to pull yourself out of the story and focus on wording, the plot, and other details that make the story “work” as a whole. This painstaking process has its rewards in the end, though. I have a phrase I use when I’ve finished a story: “I love having written.” This means I love having it all finished, polished, and done!
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing romance?
Kelli: I think one of the hardest things about writing romance (aside from creating the story in general) is writing love scenes. The intensity, details, and descriptions have to be tailored to the genre and heat level of a story. Plus, you have to make the scene develop naturally and fit the personalities of the characters.
If you’re writing a tender historical romance, love scenes are handled quite differently than if you are writing a super sizzling erotic romance. The heat levels and intensities vary among all my books, so I’m able to experiment with different scenarios in the love scenes. Sometimes you have to set aside your “internal editor” and write the scene that’s appropriate for the book and the characters, regardless of what other people think you “should” write.
Tell us about your latest book.
Kelli: 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?
The book link is: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/2022-A-Secret-Match.aspx
(Look for it soon as an e-book 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.
Dangerous Indenture is your second book with Medallion Press. But your first book, The Viking’s Witch won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Romance. Can you tell us about the award and your book?
Kellie: The “IPPY” Awards (Independent Publishers Book Awards) are designed to bring recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers. The Viking’s Witch won a Gold IPPY for Best Romance e-book in 2013. It was a great honor.
The Viking’s Witch is a full-length historical romance set in Celtic Scotland. The story centers around a village girl named Odaria who is accused of being a witch. When she conjures up a ship of Norsemen to save her, she falls in love with their leader, Rothgar. The book blends mystery and adventure with a spicy love story.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
Kelli: 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.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
Kelli: Once I have an idea for a book, I write everything down in a rough outline. From there, I start writing. A Secret Match was a different kind of book to write. It’s sort of the follow-up to my M/F romance, A Perfect Match. Ev is a secondary character in that story, and I always knew “one day” he’d get his own book, but I never put much thought into it. Then, back in December, I was driving to work and Ev showed up with a four line book summary. About an hour later, I had the whole story outlined and started writing.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Kelli: Yes, sometimes characters like Ev (and a few of my other heroes) try to take over the story. In those cases, 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.
What would you like your readers to come away with after reading one of your books?
Kelli: Ideally, I’d like my readers to become involved in the characters’ lives and fully engrossed in the story. I’ve had some great reader feedback about my books. People were surprised at the twists and turns in The Pauper Prince, and wondered how (or even if) Claudette and Allan would end up together. One person confessed to tearing up during parts of Dalton’s Temptation. Those are great things for a writer to hear. It tells me that I’ve created believable characters that readers care about.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Kelli: I strongly recommend that anyone who wants to pursue writing as a career or a hobby (in any genre), take classes. You need to learn the mechanics of good storytelling and understand the elements that go into creating characters, settings, conveying details, writing dialog, etc.
Writers also have to commit to writing—every day for at least an hour—until you get the hang of it. A lot of people I’ve talked to say they want to write and go into long descriptions of their story idea, but never sit down and write it (for various reasons).
You need to put the hours in to write a draft, rewrite, edit, revise, and learn how to take criticism if something isn’t working. It’s not easy, and it’s not always fun, but you have to do the work required to make a great book. It would be wonderful if magic elves came and did it for you, but I haven’t found any yet!
Where can readers get in touch with you or find you on the web?
Kelli: 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. You 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. Look for her story, “Home for Halloween” in the upcoming Moon Shadows horror anthology. Preview it here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N232UEG
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
Amber Quill Press Author page: http://www.amberquill.com/store/m/149-Kelli-A-Wilkins.aspx