Today I have the pleasure of speaking with Amber Quill Press author Kelli A. Wilkins
. Thanks for taking time to talk with me today Kelli
To start, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! I'd love to. I started writing short stories and taking creative writing classes when I was in high school. After college, I enrolled in a Commercial Writer's Program and started sharing my work with other students in the class. Up until that point, I was writing short horror fiction and I never let anyone read what I wrote. I was encouraged to submit my work, so I did, and I got a bunch of horror stories published. One day I came across a short romance in a magazine and decided to try romance fiction. Within a month or so, I was writing short romances and science fiction stories for The Sun.
Once I got used to writing and publishing, I ran with it. I alternated between writing short sci-fi, romance, and horror while writing non-fiction pet care books. (I wrote three cat care books and one hermit crab book.) In between all that, I eventually submitted three novellas to the Amber Quill Press "Amber Heat" writing contest, and they accepted all three! Currently I'm a romance author with Amber Quill Press, and my 12th romance, A Perfect Match was released in March 2011. My next book, Four Days With Jack is being released on May 22.
Each book is always a different experience for me because I write in historical, fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary genres. My books not only vary in genre, but they cover different heat levels, and range from mild (A Most Unusal Princess) to sizzling hot (A Midsummer Night's Delights).
Could you tell readers a little bit about your new release A Perfect Match
A Perfect Match is a contemporary romance set in the world of professional wrestling. I've always been a wrestling fan, so it only seemed natural that one day I would write a romance with wrestling as the backdrop (and with a sexy wrestler as the hero!). The book is available in electronic and paperback formats. Here's a short summary:
A Perfect Match
Falling for the wrestler she had been assigned to interview wasn't part of Danni's plan, until Vinnie Valentine pinned her heart in a flash.
Disgruntled with her job as the office gopher for a national sports magazine, Danni Stone impersonates a reporter to prove herself to her boss. Her assignment? Spend thirty days on the road with Vinnie Valentine, a sexy professional wrestler.
Life isn't going well for the Heavyweight Champ. Vinnie is struggling with a manipulative boss, prepping for the most important match of his career, and feuding with his arch-enemy, Thorn. The last thing he needs is a nosy reporter following him around-even if she is hot.
Thrown together in close quarters, Danni can't help falling for Vinnie. Their mutual attraction grows, and Danni gives in to the lustful feelings she's repressed for years. As their relationship deepens, she finds herself drawn into Vinnie's world and becomes a key player in his title bout. But before Danni can tell Vinnie that she isn't the reporter she claims to be, he discovers her deception. Her lie threatens to destroy everything between them. Is their fragile love destined to fail, or are they a perfect match?
Tell us a little about your May release Four Days With Jack
Four Days With Jack is a contemporary gay romance set on a tropical island. Here's the blurb: Four Days With JackWhen David invited his best friend along on vacation, he never expected them to fall in love…
Spending four days in a tropical paradise with Jack is a dream come true. For years, David lived a lie and denied his attraction to Jack. Now that they're together in an isolated Caribbean resort, he finally sheds his denial and admits what he really wants-to be Jack's lover.
Jack is more than willing to introduce David to the life he has always fantasized about. Their sizzling nighttime encounters confirm David's long-hidden desires. But what will happen when they leave the resort? Will David sacrifice everything to start a new life with Jack? Or will he go back to his old ways and risk losing the best friend he ever had?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Nothing stands out as particularly challenging with the actual writing, but sometimes I'm just not in the mood to sit in front of the computer and edit or proofread my stories. The fun part of the writing process is creating the characters, getting them into (and out of) crazy situations, etc. The challenging "work" part of the process is the revising/editing. You have to be devoted and dedicated to sit down and critically look at what you've written, cut out scenes/sentences that don't work with the story, and then make sure you have captured all the details of the characters, love scenes, and the overall book in a way that will connect to readers. Sometimes I'd rather be outside gardening or watching TV instead!
What is the most interesting thing you've done in the name of research?
When I was writing Beauty & the Bigfoot I had to know everything about Bigfoot, because my main character (Charlie) was a Bigfoot expert. So one day I went to the library and took out every book they had about Bigfoot. The librarians looked at me like I was crazy!! I also started watching a bunch of TV shows about Bigfoot. My husband came home one day and asked, "What's with all the Bigfoot stuff?" I told him I was doing research for a romance - and he knew better than to ask any more questions. I'm happy to say that all my research paid off because Beauty & the Bigfoot got excellent reviews, readers loved it, and so did my husband. The story isn't a normal romance - it falls into the contemporary/paranormal/comedy genre.
If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be?
Since I created all of my characters, I pretty much know them all already. I'd like to meet (and hang out with) Vinnie Valentine and Everett from A Perfect Match. They would be a lot of fun!
If you could pick any celebrity to be on the cover of your book, who would it be and why?
Funny you should ask that! When A Perfect Match came out, everyone asked me about the guy on the cover. People wanted to know which wrestler it was "supposed to be." Vinnie Valentine (the hero of the book) isn't based on one particular wrestler - he's a mix of several wrestlers, plus my own imagination. But when it came time to suggest a wrestler for the cover I did give the cover artist at Amber Quill Press a link to Triple H's (Hunter Hearst Helmsley) photo for inspiration. So Triple H would be the celebrity for that cover. If anyone has seen him, you'll definitely know why!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My interesting writing quirk is that 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 start typing up the book. I add details and edit out parts I'm not crazy about as I type, so by the time I have a typed version it's almost like a second draft.
Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
I have lots of ideas for more romances! It seems that I have more ideas than I have time (and energy) to write. I've got ideas for more historical/fantasy stories and I'm thinking about a few more paranormals, as well. I originally started out writing horror stories, so I'd like to get back to horror at some point. Maybe alternate between a short horror story and a longer romance…. I did combine my love of horror and romance into my paranormal, Confessions of a Vampire's Lover. It's an unusual vampire story that takes place at the beach. The Dark Lord also has a lot of gothic-horror elements, although it's not a paranormal.
If you had a warning label, what would it say?
"She only looks sweet and innocent."
What's the most interesting obscure fact you know?
In doing research for my books (and watching history shows on TV), I've come across lots of obscure facts, but I'm not sure if any of them are interesting to the average person! Here's one about Bigfoot that I incorporated into my book: Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have legends dating back to the 1500s (or even earlier) about big hairy men living in the woods. I also know that barbed wire wasn't invented until the late 1860s, clove oil numbs your mouth and was used to cure toothaches, and ancient Egyptians knew how to cure infections with moldy bread. (They had a lot of medical knowledge we rarely give them credit for.)
Which one of the characters you've created is most like you?
All of my characters have a little bit of me in them somewhere. Princess Elara from A Most Unusual Princess is probably the closest to me. She's got her own mind and opinions, is determined once she sets her mind to something, and despite her strength, she has a vulnerable side she doesn't share with too many people.
If you could mentor a new writer, what would be your first piece of advice to them?
Take writing classes and get feedback/critiques from a writing group. That's how I started out - and it seems to have worked! No matter what genre they're writing, new writers need to know how to create a good story while learning about all the elements that go into storytelling (plot, beginning/middle/end, character development, goals/motivation/conflict, details, etc.). Once they've written a story, they should share it with a group of strangers and listen to their comments/feedback (both good and bad).
When I took my first writing class, I'd never shared any of my writings with anyone, and I had to read a horror story to a group of strangers. It was nerve-wracking, but it was incredibly helpful. Writers need to be prepared for criticism, comments, and suggestions from readers/critique partners and develop thick skins when it comes to submitting their work. In most cases, the suggestions/feedback is helpful to the story. If you're too close to the story you won't notice errors or spot where things aren't working right. Someone who's never read your story can tell if a scene needs more details or clarification because something's confusing, etc. Having other people review what you write before you submit it is definitely an important part of the writing process. I still send all of my stories to my critique partners for feedback.
What can your fans look forward to in the next twelve months from you?
In May 2011, my first Amber Quill Press Amber Allure romance, Four Days With Jack is being released. It's a contemporary gay romance set on a tropical island.
I'm also working on a few other books: a traditional historical romance with a Native American hero, a historical-mystery/romance with an Irish heroine, and two paranormal romances. They're all in various stages of writing, revising and outlining, so I'm not sure which one will be finished next.
Looking ahead…. In August 2012 Medallion Press will be releasing my book, The Witch & The Warrior. It's a full-length historical romance (with paranormal elements) set in Scotland.
Is there anything else you would like to add today?
I'd like to invite readers to visit my website to read excerpts and reviews about all of my romances. I also share links to more interviews and my latest news on the News page. The site also has separate sections for my horror stories, anthologies, and non-fiction books.
I write a weekly blog called "Kelli's Quill - the Blog". I share excerpts from my books and interviews, writing advice, writing tips and exercises, and anything else that comes to mind. (I also take suggestions/questions from readers, so feel free to write. Readers can contact me via a form under the 'Contact the Author' section of the News page on my site.)
Every other month I put out a newsletter "Kelli's Quill - with news, reviews, interview excerpts, and a "Something to Write About" section that offers writing tips and exercises. Readers can sign up via my site.
To find all of my Amber Quill Press romances, readers can visit my author page.
And, I'm on a bunch of social media sites:
Twitter: @KWilkinsauthor, Facebook, Goodreads and Shelfari.
Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us today Kelli
It was a lot of fun sharing my thoughts and information with readers! If anyone has questions or would like to share feedback/comments about my books (which one was your favorite? Which characters did you absolutely fall in love with?) write me and let me know!
Interviewed by: Tammy