NovelSpot: Kelli, thanks so much for taking time to talk with us today.
Kelli Wilkins: Hi! I’m glad to share my thoughts with readers, and I’ll do my best to make my answers interesting and informative!
NS: I'm sure that won't be a problem! Your blog profile says that you are “the author of several spicy romance novellas published by Amber Quill Press.” So, what is your favorite spice?
KW: My favorite spice? Hmmm….probably cinnamon. Autumn is my favorite season, and the pies, breads, and other treats for this time of year always have a yummy combination of pumpkin, allspice, nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. Just smelling those scents reminds me of Halloween.
NS: Several of your romances have won writing contests. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you really enjoy writing romances and erotica. What is it about these genres that you like so much?
KW: Yes, I do enjoy writing romances. In fact, A Midwinter Night’s Delights is my 11th Amber Quill Press romance. Writing in general appeals to me because it lets me create characters and entire worlds from out of nowhere. It’s fun to make up a setting, add characters, and then give the characters a problem or issue to solve. Romance (whether it’s erotic or traditional) is interesting to write because in most cases the hero and heroine are strangers at the beginning of the story (or don’t like each other much), but by the end of the book they’re in love and living happily-ever-after.
I write in several romance sub-genres (fantasy, historical, contemporary, and paranormal) so there’s always something different going on in my romances. Writing in various sub-genres lets me experiment with plots, settings, and characters. For example, Beauty & the Bigfoot is a paranormal-comedy based on a woman falling in love with a Sasquatch. (Yes, you read that right.) In my historical, The Dark Lord, I set the story in an isolated Carpathian Mountain castle. Princess Elara (from A Most Unusual Princess) is feisty and very opinionated and doesn’t act like a princess at all. I like mixing things up and switching romance genres, I think it helps stretch my writing muscles and keeps the stories and characters interesting.
NS: Non-fiction, horror, romance…you write in many different genres. Are there similarities that draw you to them or is it the differences that you like?
KW: I pretty much write everything and anything. If I have a good idea for a fiction story, I’ll go with it, regardless of the genre.
I think writing in different styles/genres helps writers grow and keeps the writing fresh. You don’t get stuck in a rut with the same settings, time periods, characters, or expectations.
One thing I like about diversifying my writing between horror and romance is that I get to entirely change the way I approach (and write) the story. When I’m writing horror, I can create an utterly repulsive lead character and let him/her do things that a character in a romance wouldn’t do. I can also explore different settings (graveyards, haunted houses, etc.) that aren’t normally found in romance. After writing a few romances, I like to switch it up and write a few horror stories for a change of pace.
NS: You introduced your readers to Julian and Annabelle in A Midsummer Night’s Delights and now you’ve brought them back in A Midwinter Night’s Delights. For those NovelSpot readers who aren’t familiar with Julian and Annabelle, could you introduce us?
KW: Sure. In A Midsummer Night’s Delights, Julian and Annabelle started out as repressed newlyweds. They were virtual strangers trapped in an arranged marriage. To loosen them up, Julian’s father sends them to the Marquis of Demby’s estate to attend a Midsummer Ball.
Well, let’s just say, this type of ball isn’t for dancing!
Julian and Annabelle meet the Marquis, Vincent, and his wife, Sabrina. Over the course of their visit, they learn how to open up and explore their sexuality. When they attend the Midsummer Ball, they shed their inhibitions while indulging in their wildest fantasies.
A Midwinter Night’s Delights picks up six months after the first book. Ever since the summer ball, Annabelle and Julian have been overindulging in all sorts of naughty activities. They give into their newfound wanton desires whenever (and wherever) the mood strikes – even if it’s at a formal dinner party. Julian’s father sends them back to Vincent’s estate to be disciplined and learn self-control.
Although the novellas are companions to one another, each story stands alone as a separate read. A Midwinter Night’s Delights is available in a variety of electronic formats.
NS: What was your favorite scene/character in A Midwinter Night’s Delights to write?
KW: The whole book was a lot of fun to write, so it’s hard to pick a favorite scene. Many of the scenes are very graphic, but two scenes stand out in my mind as particularly sensual.
In one scene, Julian is given the task of pleasuring an incredibly shy woman. He has to learn how to focus on her needs and her body, while earning her trust. The scene is hot, and yet has a tender, innocent side to it.
Later in the book, Annabelle and Julian get rewarded for “learning their lessons” and receive a special kind of erotic massage. As readers of the first book know, A Midsummer Night’s Delights was very graphic and hot – the follow-up story takes Julian and Annabelle into a world where they must learn how to submit to their “punishments” and control themselves sexually.
I also enjoyed writing the scenes where Julian is protesting his punishments and gets a little snippy with Vincent and Sabrina. I tried to infuse a little bit of humor into those scenes.
NS: What was the hardest scene or character in A Midwinter Night’s Delights to write?
KW: A few of the graphic/detailed love scenes were a little tough to write. I was also challenged to show how Annabelle and Julian enjoyed their unusual “punishments” at the estate. One thing I’ve learned over the years of writing romance is that I have to turn off my “internal editor” every so often when it comes to writing some of the more explicit love scenes.
My romances with Amber Quill Press not only run the gamut of different genre categories, but they also have different heat levels ranging from 1 to 3. For example, A Most Unusual Princess is a heat level of 1, (relatively mild), Trust with Hearts is in the middle, with a heat level of 2, and A Midwinter Night’s Delights is a scorching hot level 3. When I write love scenes, I let the characters “do whatever comes natural” then if I feel that something needs to be toned down, I make revisions.
Since this is a sequel, I was very familiar with the characters and their personalities, so their interactions weren’t hard to write. However, I did introduce two new characters (Lobo and Lono) into this story, and I’m sure they have interesting pasts to explore! (Maybe they’ll be the focus of a third book….)
NS: If you were to be transported into one of your books, which one would it be and why?
KW: That’s a hard question to answer! I love all my books and would enjoy hanging out with all of my characters. I like castles, so it would be nice to creep around the Carpathian castle in The Dark Lord. It might also be fun to hang around with Princess Elara, Prince Dalton, and Prince Allan from A Most Unusual Princess, Dalton’s Temptation, and The Pauper Prince. Or maybe even indulge in some naughty fun at the ball in A Midwinter Night’s Delights… A nice thing about creating all these characters and different worlds is that while writing them, I did get to transport myself into the books!
NS: Ha, haa, good point. So, as a writer, who do you like to read?
KW: My bookshelves are very eclectic! I read everything from romance to horror, non-fiction, historical, self-help, biographies, with some mysteries thrown in. I don’t follow one particular author – if I see a book that interests me, I’ll pick it up and give it a try. Reading lots of different books (outside the romance and horror genres) gets my mind thinking about other things, and sometimes inspires a story idea. Although I do read a lot, I don’t read while I’m writing, and I don’t write while I’m reading. It seems that I have to choose one or the other to focus on.
NS: I’d love to get a glimpse of the writer at work. Computer or pen and paper? What’s your ideal writing day? Mood music?
KW: I write the first draft of everything (short stories and novels) in longhand with pen and paper. After that, I sit down and type up the story, add details, and make edits. I like to write outside whenever possible, so I do a lot of my actual writing during the warmer months, then during winter I type and edit my manuscripts. When I’m writing, I sometimes listen to relaxing/motivating New Age/Celtic music. I put on more upbeat/faster music when I’m typing – it helps me type quicker.
NS: What are you working on right now? More Julian and Annabelle?
KW: I’m not sure if I’ll write another story involving Julian and Annabelle. I did leave the ending of the book open for more of their adventures – so you never know. If readers are interested in another story, write me and let me know! After A Midsummer Night’s Delights, readers wanted more, and that’s what prompted me to write A Midwinter Night’s Delights.
Right now I’m revising a historical romance set in Pennsylvania Colony and editing a contemporary romance set in the world of professional wrestling. Aside from that, I’m outlining a few other romances – a fantasy, a futuristic, and another paranormal.
NS: Thank you for talking to us. Any last words?
Thanks for letting me visit. It was fun sharing insights into my writing world. I’d love to hear from readers (what’s your favorite book – or character – and why?) and invite everyone to visit my website to learn about all my romances, read excerpts, and reviews. I also have a blog that I update weekly with writing tips, news, bits about my books, and anything else that comes to mind.