Thursday, February 16, 2012

An Interview with Kelli Wilkins

Please join me in welcoming Kelli Wilkins as she shares with us a little about her writing, what type of superpowers she’d like to have, and which Hollywood hunks she finds attractive.

Be sure to check out the excerpt from her book Four Days with Jack after the interview.

1) Links to website and list of books with purchase links.
My website is the best place to find all of my writings. All the stories and books in the different genres (horror, romance, non-fiction, and anthologies) are there. The site contains summaries, reviews, and excerpts from my Amber Quill Press romances; descriptions of my non-fiction books; and teasers from my short stories. Readers can purchase all of my writings from links directly on my site.

Here’s a list of my books with links of all my Amber Quill Press romances:

I’m also on the web here:
Twitter @KWilkinsauthor

2) How long have you been writing? What got you in to writing?
I started writing short stories in high school. After college, I took a Commercial Writers Program and read some of my stories in class. At the time, I was writing short horror fiction. Everyone liked the stories and encouraged me to submit them for publication. One day I read a short romance in a magazine and said “I can write that.” So I did. A few months later, I sold my first “10-Minute Love Story” to the Sun – and from there I was hooked.

My erotic romance writing career began with a contest. Amber Quill Press was running a contest to find authors. I submitted three romance novellas, and they contracted me for all three! At the time, I was writing “traditional” (aka not-so-spicy) romances, but I had never written an erotic romance. In keeping with my knack for writing in different genres, I submitted stories in three different romance categories. A Most Unusual Princess is a fantasy, The Dark Lord is a gothic historical, and The Sexy Stranger is a contemporary.

After these novellas were released, I kept writing erotic romances. A Most Unusual Princess spawned two sequels, Dalton’s Temptation and The Pauper Prince. Although I’m drawn to historical/fantasy settings, if I get a great idea for a story I’ll go with it, regardless of the genre. To date, I’ve had 13 erotic romances published with Amber Quill Press.

3) What was your first published book? Looking back, is there anything you’d change about it?

A Most Unusual Princess was my first book with Amber Quill Press. It was a winner in the 2005 Amber Heat Wave contest. Looking back, I’d probably make minor edits and revise a few paragraphs here and there. After you’ve had something published and read it later on, you always find something you’d like to change. This book is the first in a trilogy that continues with Dalton’s Temptation and The Pauper Prince. 

4) What or who has influenced your writing?
This may sound strange coming from a romance author, but Stephen King is my favorite author. I started out reading his short stories (at a young age) and they showed me how to craft a story, use details and descriptions, and give a story a voice. I think his On Writing book is a great way for anyone to get inside the mind of a writer and see how the process unfolds.

5) Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas are everywhere; you just need to find them. I tend to be a bit nosy and I like to explore, so I come up with ideas just by noticing my surroundings and observing what’s going on around me. I also have a vivid imagination, which helps give me ideas. Once in a while, a story idea or character will come to me out of nowhere. Sometimes I take two ideas and combine them into one, or I take an idea and ask myself “what if” to invent new scenarios and plotlines. My two paranormal romances, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover and Beauty & the Bigfoot started out as “what if?” plots.

Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover came about because I had a “what if” idea: What if a vampire went to the beach and fell in love?

Beauty & the Bigfoot was inspired by a wacky “what if” idea that popped into my head: “What if a girl fell in love with a Sasquatch?” The more I thought about it, the more the story unfolded.

I have entire folders of ideas just waiting to be developed. I find ideas everywhere – while driving, watching people at the store, from overheard conversations… usually something catches my attention and I let my mind wander, to see where the ideas take me.

Sometimes when I’m mulling over ideas or trying to think of plotlines, I’ll play the ‘what if’ game and ask myself, “what if….” And see what I come up with. (One of my science fiction stories recently appeared in an anthology entitled What If… so I think it’s a useful phrase!

6) What hinders your writing? (distractions? noise?)
Finding enough time to write is my biggest challenge. I work a full-time job and have limited time to write/revise after work and on weekends. I try to put in an hour each day, or schedule out a block of 2-3 hours every few days tow write. I have more ideas for stories than I have tie to write them!

I try to write when nobody else is around, or I go into my office and close the door. My husband has his own hobbies, so we give each other time to pursue our own interests. Usually my only interruption is the phone - for some reason people know when I’m trying to write and like to call then.

7) What genre are you most comfortable with? What would you like to explore?
I write in almost every romance genre: historical, fantasy, paranormal, gay, and contemporary. So I’m pretty comfortable switching genres as the characters and plots dictate.

I like reading mysteries, but I’ve never written a full-fledged mystery story. I’m working on a historical romance with mystery elements now, so I guess we’ll see how that goes!

8) Are you a by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer, or do you have to use an outline to put your collective thoughts into some semblance of common sense?
Before I start a book, I think about the story and get that settled away. I need to know who the characters are and what’s going to happen. After that, I make a list of scenes and start writing. As I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline/list. Sometimes I add entire scenes or I write scenes that are later omitted. I tend to go where the story takes me. You never know when the characters are going to go “off page” and take the story in places you didn’t imagine. That makes the writing fun!

I thought I knew all about my characters before I started writing The Pauper Prince and A Midsummer Night’s Delights – but I was wrong! One thing I learned while writing those stories was that characters can surprise you and take the story in a different direction. I outline my books and stories before I start writing them, so I was surprised to discover a different (bisexual) side to Prince Allan (The Pauper Prince) and Julian (A Midsummer Night’s Delights). Another thing I learned was that I had to turn off my “internal editor” when it came to writing some of the more detailed same-gender love scenes in each book.

9) Which of your books is your favorite? Why?
I really fell in love with Elara and Dalton from A Most Unusual Princess. I liked them so much that I created a trilogy around them. A Most Unusual Princess led to Dalton’s Temptation. That book introduced readers to Prince Allan, and he got his own book, The Pauper Prince. Once I finished all of their stories I was able to let them go “live their lives” and focus on different characters.

I like all of my books and I fall in love with all the characters as I’m writing – otherwise, I couldn’t do it! I do like Curtis from Trust with Hearts, and I was fond of Tara’s wacky humor in Beauty & the Bigfoot. I think the book I’m writing at the moment (whenever that moment is) is my favorite, because I’m putting all my energy into it.

Since I write in different genres, I have favorites in each. In the fantasy genre, I’m particularly fond of my trilogy A Most Unusual Princess, Dalton’s Temptation, The Pauper Prince. In paranormal, Beauty & the Bigfoot (it’s a comedy), and contemporary, it’s a tie between Trust with Hearts and A Perfect Match.

10) Do you incorporate some of yourself into your characters? Personality traits? Likes? Dislikes?
Some of my own personality comes across in my stories, but mostly through an odd or amusing sense of humor. I really let my “voice” come out in Beauty & the Bigfoot. The strange characters, odd manners of speaking, and off-the-wall events are a good example of my sense of humor.

The subplot of adopting shelter cats in Trust with Hearts stemmed from my lifelong love of cats and the desire to help all homeless cats get loving homes. And the plot of A Perfect Match (my wrestling romance) came from some personal experiences I had with real-life wrestlers.

11) What do you think is the perfect hero/heroine? Why?
I think readers want realistic heroes and heroines. The characters should be attractive and interesting, but they also need to be “real” people, not one-dimensional clichés of “perfect” people with no flaws and no room for growth or improvement. Characters need to be fleshed out enough so they have pasts, quirks, hobbies, goals, and dreams that take them beyond the current romance and the situations they’re in during the story. Their lives didn’t start the day the romance began; they existed long before that, just like regular people.

I try to blend enough realism into my characters so that they have good traits and bad traits like everyone. Curtis from Trust with Hearts was reluctant to open up about his past, and Sherri was getting over a bad breakup which made her act jealous and insecure – so when the characters interacted, they both were bringing some “baggage” into the relationship.

12) What is your latest release? Please share the blurb and purchase info with us.
My latest Amber Quill Press romance is called Four Days with Jack. It’s my thirteenth romance, but my first gay romance. This contemporary story takes place at a tropical resort and explores the budding relationship of two best friends. Here’s the full plot summary and link:

When 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?

13) What do you have in the works?
I’m currently revising a paranormal gay romance and editing an erotic historical/mystery. (Neither book has a title yet!) After that, I hope to start work on another paranormal. In August, Medallion Press will be publishing my full-length historical/paranormal romance, The Witch & the Warrior.

14) Do you have any suggestions/comments for prospective authors?
I’d advise new writers to take writing classes (either online or in person) and learn all you can about crafting a story. Telling a story is the main focus of being a writer. You have to be able to think of an idea and write/revise a good story before you can do anything else. Reading “how-to” writing magazines and joining critique groups are also excellent ways to learn techniques. It helps to have a critique group or work with other writers to get feedback. And you need to be open to receive honest opinions about your work.

You have to be ready, willing and able to actually sit down and actually do the work of writing and revising the story. Stories don’t write themselves, and writing is harder than most people think. A lot of people tell me they want to write a book “someday” but they always have a long list of excuses why they can’t or don’t want to actually write it now.

Writers (or prospective writers) also need a basic understanding of how the business of publishing works. One person told me that he wasn’t going to “bother” writing his story until he had a publisher interested in buying it. And since he wasn’t sure how many pages it should be, he couldn’t start it. (!) Despite my advice to “just write the story first” he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) commit to writing the first scene.

1) If you could be an animal, what would it be? Why?
It would definitely be a cat—either a housecat or a tiger! Cats have a lot of power and grace, plus they’re incredibly smart.

2) If you had super powers, what would they be? Why?
I’d like to be able to teleport from one place to another. It would make traveling easier and a lot faster. Want to be in London? Snap your fingers and you’re instantly there!

3) If you could change three things in the world, what would they be? Why?
I’d love it if all the orphan and/or homeless cats in the world were adopted into loving homes. I’d also like to see people take better care of the planet, to respect the earth and every living thing on it. And nobody anywhere should go to bed hungry.

4) What would be a perfect date for you?
A perfect date for me is going out to dinner with my husband, then either seeing a movie or watching one at home.

5) Is there anywhere you’d like to visit? Why?
I’ve been to a lot of places. I’d love to go to Easter Island and see the Moai up close and in person. And I’d also love to tour castles in Wales. (Having the ability to teleport to these places instantly would help!) I like visiting old, historical places that are surrounded in mystery.

6) Do you have a crush on any actor?
Sure do! They’re not so much “crushes” – it’s more like “hey, he’s cute!” I was a big fan of Josh Holloway (LOST). I also adore British actors John Barrowman (Torchwood) and David Tennant (Dr. Who). And then there’s Jensen Ackles from Supernatural….

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with everyone. I welcome feedback and comments from readers. The News page of my site has a ‘contact the author’ form where readers can email me. I also would like to invite everyone to check out my blog –I’m always open to suggestions for topics. If there’s a writing subject or book readers would like me to discuss, just left me know.

Happy Reading!
Kelli A. Wilkins

Four Days with Jack – What Will People Think?
By Kelli A. Wilkins, Amber Quill Press Author

Hi everyone,

I’m an author with Amber Quill Press and I’ve written contemporaries, historical/fantasies, and paranormals of varying heat levels. Some books are scorching-hot and include storylines with multiple same-sex partners (A Midsummer Night’s Delights), while some are focused exclusively on a M/F relationship (Trust with Hearts). When I write, I let the story and characters take me wherever the plot leads. In the case of my first gay romance, Four Days with Jack, it led to a tropical resort!

I always knew that one day I’d write a gay romance, and I’ve been batting ideas around in my head for a while. I was in between books and had just finished editing A Perfect Match when I heard about the Amber Allure “Postcards from Paradise” line, and I knew I had my next project.

At first, all I had was a basic plot (straight guy comes out to his gay best friend), a title, and one pivotal scene that takes place in a bathroom. (For those of you who have read the book, you know which scene I’m talking about – but I won’t give it away here!) 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.

Four Days with Jack is one of the very few books I wrote without an outline. I think not having an outline let the characters write their own story (so to speak), and took the book in new directions. As I wrote, David quickly revealed a major conflict – inner turmoil.

David has kept his true desires a secret from himself and everyone else. He is afraid of what people will think about him if they know (or even suspect) that he’s gay. How will they react? Will they judge him?

I picked up on this theme of “what will people think?” and ran with it. In the book, David points out that Jack’s family (and some friends) disowned him when he came out, and David doesn’t want to go through the same type of heartache. Jack’s reply is pretty much: “So? They’ll get over it.” 

As I was writing this story, I considered “what people would think” about this book. How can a woman write a gay romance? What will people think about the m/m love scenes? Then I reminded myself that I’m a writer and I create the characters and scenes that make up the book as a whole. The story needs to be told, and I’m the one telling it. I’ve made up all sorts of things: an erotic Bigfoot story, detailed ménage scenes, a vampire romance. It’s not about me explaining myself on paper and waiting to be judged; it’s about the characters and what happens to them. It’s called fiction.

Writers need to turn off their internal editors and forge ahead with the story as it should be (and needs to be) told. If we constantly worried about what grandma would think about our writing, or if we were afraid to open up and let the characters and story take us into the bedroom, we’d never write anything except G-rated bedtime fables. And if a friend/relative/whoever has a problem with the subject matter, Jack’s right: they’ll get over it.

Recently I read a blog where a woman was “confessing” to writing an erotic romance, even though she couldn’t tell anyone about it and wouldn’t dare put her real name on the story. I got to wondering…why? Why hide your writing? And if you’re “ashamed” to be writing in a particular genre, why invest the time in something you’re not going to stand behind?

I’m pleased to say that Four Days with Jack has received great reviews. I’m proud of my first gay romance – and I’m working on a second one.
Happy Reading!

Kelli A. Wilkins

Genre: contemporary gay romance
Publisher: Amber Quill Press – Amber AllurePurchase
Format: various electronic formats
When 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?

Excerpt: Adult
“I had a dirty dream about us on the plane,” David confessed. “That’s what made me hard. And when we were sitting on the beach this afternoon, I started thinking about you again.”
“Really? Tell me about the dream while I kiss you.”
Jack kissed David’s chest, then swirled his tongue around his left nipple. David’s heart raced. Was he excited or nervous or a combination of both?
“We were naked in my apartment and my hands were tied behind my back.”
“Bondage? Oh that’s interesting. Go on.”
“I was kneeling in front of you and you were hard.”
“I bet I was.” He slid his hand down David’s stomach until he reached his cock. It was semi-hard. He squeezed it lightly. “This okay?”
“Yeah,” David whispered, his voice breathy.
“Keep talking and I’ll keep going.”
“You told me to kiss it and lick it, and I did.”
“Did you like it?”
“Yes, you asked me that in the dream. But then you walked away and wouldn’t let me…”
“Suck you.” David blurted out. “I wanted to, in the dream. But you laughed and said I couldn’t have it,” he said, his voice trembling. “I still owe you a blow job.”
“That can wait. Tonight I want to give you one.”
David’s eyes widened. “You do? Why?”
“For being brave this afternoon; for taking the risk and opening up. You deserve it.” He kissed his stomach.
 “Now let me give you your reward.”
“What should I do?”
“Relax. Lie there and enjoy…and try not to yell. We don’t want the hotel people to get the wrong idea.”
*          *          *
Relax? How could he relax when he was naked in bed with Jack? Although he wanted this, part of him was unsure. He’d never let a man touch him like this before.
Jack didn’t know it, but his sexual experiences with women were limited. He’d had an okay sex life, but he’d never hungered after girls, trying to get laid, like most of the men he knew. Usually the women were more interested in sex than he was. It never mattered to him if he got laid or not. He had no great desire to hop into bed with any of his girlfriends. Now he knew why.
Jack kissed his chest and he lay still, his heart thundering a mile a minute. Jack was going to blow him! For all their fooling around as kids, they had never sucked each others’ dicks. They’d only done hand jobs. And that was almost like you jerked yourself off. Until today, they’d never kissed. But this would be different. It would change everything.
He opened his eyes in time to see Jack reposition himself on the edge of the bed. “You don’t have to keep your eyes closed. In fact, you might want to watch.” He winked. “Now, open up, lover,” Jack said, patting his leg.
He parted his thighs, his nervousness returning. Jack bent his knees, opening him up to him.
“That’s what I want…everything.”
He watched as Jack’s head vanished between his legs.
“Oh God,” he cried out as Jack licked his balls.
“Easy, easy. Men know what to do.” Jack massaged his sac. “We don’t forget about these babies like women do. It’ll be the best you ever had.”
Where you can find Kelli Wilkins…

About the author…

When Kelli’s not writing romances, she might be writing horror stories! Her short horror fiction has appeared in several anthologies including: Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, Haunted, The Four Horsemen, Frightmares, What If., and The Best of the First Line. She has also written short romances and sci fi stories for The Sun, and non-fiction pet care guides.

When she’s not writing something (which is rare) Kelli likes to visit haunted/weird/creepy places, go to flea markets, and travel. Ideas for stories (in any genre) can turn up anywhere!

Don't miss Kelli's hot 2011 romances:
Catch up on all of Kelli's sizzling romances at:
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Carolina Valdez said...

A marvelous and interesting interview, Kelli! I enjoyed learning more about you.


menina.iscrazy said...

Love the interview. It was very interesting finding out about the different way's the books started out.

Pat Marinelli said...

Wonderful and interesting interview! It's great to find out how other writers write. I adore cats and have had a few rescues over the years. We have two now who can't stand each other but we love them anyway. Good luck with you new novel coming out.