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Wilkins, Kelli, A.

Novelspot talks to Author Kelli A. Wilkins

www.KelliWilkins.com

 

Today, Novelspot is chatting with romance and speculative fiction author Kelli A. Wilkins. Kelli shares her thoughts about the writing process, her latest releases, and more!

Q: Greetings! Let’s start with the basics. Please tell our Novelspot readers about yourself. How long have you been writing? Which genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

A: I’ve been writing professionally for about 15 years, and I write novels and short stories in a variety of genres. I mainly consider myself a romance and horror author. I know that’s an unusual blend, but I like writing in multiple genres because I get to explore different characters, plots, and styles of writing in a romance that I couldn’t do in a horror story – and vice versa. 

After writing a few romances I like to switch up and focus on horror or sci-fi for a while. My horror stories tend to be more psychological and creepy than bloody, and my sci-fi stories are about strange things that happen to ordinary people. I write in almost every romance genre: historical, fantasy, paranormal, gay, and contemporary. I’m comfortable switching genres as the characters and plots dictate. 

I’ve also written several non-fiction pet guides, a non-fiction guide to romance, and authored two online writing courses, so I pretty much write anything and everything.

Q: Let’s talk about your romances for a bit. To date, you’ve written 19 romances in almost every genre: contemporary, paranormal, gay, fantasy, and historical, and they all vary in heat level from sensual to super-spicy. How do you decide what to write next and where do you keep getting ideas?

A: Each book and every character comes to me in a different way. Sometimes I get ideas for books in dreams, other times I’ll see or hear something that sparks my imagination and gets me thinking, What if?.. Once in a while a character “comes” to me and I try to figure out his or her story. 

For example, the plot and characters for The Viking’s Witch came to me in a dream. One morning I woke up with the entire book in my head. I immediately grabbed a pen and paper and started writing everything down. 

Dangerous Indenture was sparked by a name I overheard one day. The name “Shauna Farrow” stuck with me and I wrote it down. A few minutes later, I knew all about her: she was an Irish indentured servant who came to Pennsylvania Colony and worked at a house where another servant was murdered. 

Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a new book while I’m in the process of writing or revising another book. When that happens I write down everything about the plot and characters and come back to it later. So I often have the “next” book waiting for me. I also keep a folder filled with “someday” book ideas. If I ever need an idea, I can always look there.

Q: Women have traditionally been overlooked or overshadowed in the horror industry. What made you decide to write horror?

A: I never “decided” to write horror – it just seemed natural to me. (In a way, I couldn’t not write horror.) I have lots of ideas for creepy stories in my head and the best way to get them out is to put them on paper and hope that someone will want to read them. The same goes for romance – I never set out to be a romance author, but the stories and characters came to me, so I wrote them down. Although romance is traditionally a female market and horror “belongs” to men, I never let it stop me. 

I’m hoping that readers of horror won’t skip over a story just because it is written by a woman. (We’ll surprise you!) The story’s the thing – and as long as it’s a good, engaging story, the gender of the person who wrote it shouldn’t matter. If the story is boring or doesn’t make sense the reader will be turned off no matter who wrote it.

I think some readers would be surprised at how “dark” female writers can be when it comes to horror. Maybe some women are turned off or unwilling to let themselves go to those dark places to write horror, but for some of us, it comes natural.

I never gave my gender a thought when I started writing horror. I wrote my story, sent it out, and it got published – or didn’t. It never occurred to me that someone would look at a horror story written by a woman any differently than one written by a man. But I guess some people do.

Back when I was taking writing classes I had to read a horror story aloud in front of the group. Everyone was creeped out by my story. After I finished the reading, a football player-type guy turned to me and said, “You scare me. I don’t even want to walk out to the parking lot with you.” I took it as a compliment! He couldn’t wrap his brain around how someone who looked “nice” could write dark/horrific things.

Q: What is your key to creating a successful sci-fi story or a piece of short horror fiction?

A: The best advice I ever got for writing short stories is: write tight. Take out anything and everything not essential to the story, such as extra words, details, dialogue tags, whatever. This is especially important when I’m writing horror short stories. Too many words or distractions can break the tension, ruin the suspense, or otherwise distract the reader. 

You also need a compelling story that draws readers into the world of the characters and holds them there. Not everyone believes in aliens, but if you write a sci-fi story that pulls readers into an alien world and keeps them interested, you’ve done your job. A “hook” beginning and a great ending are musts in creating any good short story. Most of my horror and sci-fi stories are based on a premise of What if… and put ordinary people in very unusual situations.

Q: If someone hasn't read any of your romances, what book would you recommend that they start with and why?

A: That depends on what genre they like to read. My romances include almost all genres, and the heat levels vary from mildly sensual to scorching hot. 

Historical readers would love The Viking’s Witch. It’s a spicy historical novel set in Celtic Scotland. Or, if they like romance blended with mystery, they could read Redemption from a Dark Past or Dangerous Indenture. Readers of fantasy would like either A Most Unusual Princess and/or A Midsummer Night’s Delights. (Both books spawned sequels!)

Contemporary romance readers can fall in love with the heroes from A Deceptive Match or Trust with Hearts. Paranormal lovers would like Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover or my paranormal/comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot. (Yes, it’s a Bigfoot romance!)

And readers of M/M romances would like A Secret MatchFour Days with Jack, or Killer in Wolf’s Clothing. I like to say I have romances for everyone! 

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process? 

A: 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!) The writing of the first draft lets me get inside the characters’ heads and dig deep into the story. When I edit and revise, I have to focus on the mechanics of writing, grammar, and cutting away what’s not essential to the story – all the technical “not so fun” stuff that helps pull the book together.

Q: Do you write one book from start to finish, or are there multiple works underway at any given time?

A: I write one book at a time, but if I get another idea for a story while I’m writing, I’ll take a few minutes (or sometimes hours) to write out the idea or a quick outline while it’s still fresh.

After I finish the first draft of a book, I put it away for a week (or sometimes longer) and go write something else, then come back to the book. Being away from it for a while helps me see where scenes need to be added, deleted, or improved.

Q: Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this? 

A: That’s a myth! Most people want to believe that writers sit around contemplating what to write all day, crank out a book in a week, then sit back and collect outrageously huge checks. Yes, sometimes that happens to a few authors, but the rest of us put in lots of hard work. Many non-writers don’t understand that creating a good book out of thin air is a time-consuming (and sometimes frustrating) process. 

I’ve had well-meaning (I think!) people ask me how come I don’t have a million dollars or why haven’t my books been on the New York Times Best-seller list yet. The reality is that some authors can and do quit their day jobs to write, while others put in 40 hours a week doing something else and then carve out time from the rest of the day to write. It’s not always glamorous, but creating characters and writing about them is fun, and that’s why I do it.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

A: Writers need to have a good imagination, excellent observation skills, and the determination and patience to keep writing, even when they get rejected. It’s not easy to finish a novel (let alone get it published), and many would-be writers give up before they even start because “it’s too hard.” 

I know a lot of people who tell me they want to write a story (or a book) but say that don’t have the time or it takes too long, or it’s too much work. Writers need to have an internal drive to write. They also need to have the self-discipline to sit in a chair and edit a story when they would rather be outside or doing something else. 

Q: You were a very busy person in 2019! Tell us a little about your most recent releases.

A: In early 2019 I released the second half of my flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes. These sweet contemporary mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence. 

In March, I published Dangerous Indenture, a historical/mystery romance set in Colonial Pennsylvania, and in June, I released The Viking’s Witch. This full-length novel takes place in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual romance with paranormal elements.

I published Extraterrestrial Encounters, a collection of 18 sci-fi stories, in August 2019. In these unusual tales, readers encounter aliens of all shapes and sizes, curious (and sometimes unlucky) space explorers, and ordinary Earthlings having otherworldly experiences.

And in November, I released Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love, a non-fiction guide to romance. The book features fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

Whew! That’s a lot – even for me. Full book summaries, reviews, and buy links for all of my writings are on my website: www.KelliWilkins.com.

Q: What are your current projects? Where can readers learn more about your books?

A: Right now I’m putting the final touches on a re-release of my historical western romance, Lies, Love & Redemption. I’m also revising a paranormal/mystery romance, and I’m outlining a new gay romance. And of course, I have lots of ideas brewing for more horror fiction!

Readers can learn more about all of my books on my site, sign up for my newsletter, or follow my blog and social media posts for updates on new releases. All the links you need are on the “Contact” page of my site.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts today. I welcome questions and comments from readers and other authors. 

Happy Reading!

Kelli A. Wilkins

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, 6 non-fiction books, and 2 online writing courses. Her romances span many genres and heat levels, and she’s also been known to scare readers with her horror stories. 

In November 2019, she released Romance Every Weekend: 104 Fun Ways to Express Your Love, a non-fiction guide to romance. The book features 104 fun and easy ways you can express your love to that special someone in your life. Perfect for men or women, it focuses on tender, everyday gestures that let your partner know how much you love him or her.

Kelli published Extraterrestrial Encounters, a collection of 18 sci-fi stories, in August 2019. If you like horror fiction, don’t miss her disturbing novella, Nightmare in the North.

Her historical romance, The Viking’s Witch, was released in June 2019. This full-length novel takes place in Celtic Scotland and blends a sensual romance with paranormal elements.

In March 2019, Kelli published Dangerous Indenture, a historical mystery romance set in Colonial Pennsylvania. She released the second half of her flash fiction series, Cupid’s Schemes, in early 2019. These two volumes of lighthearted mini-romances are perfect reads for a quick lunchtime escape or an after-work indulgence. 

Kelli released a Teachable mini-course, Fiction Basics: Finding Ideas in February 2019. She also authored Fiction Writing for Beginners through Teachable. These courses are perfect for anyone who wants to learn how to write. Visit: https://kelliwilkins.teachable.com/ for more details.

Not just an author, Kelli is also an amateur photographer. Visit her pages on Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/kelli+wilkins and iStock https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/kelliwilkins to view her photos.

Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor

Visit her website/blog www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.