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Interview with Kelli A. Wilkins
Sep 20, 2008

Hi Kelli,
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by Manic Readers. I am very intrigued by your writing in both horror and romance as I’m sure many others are. Certainly some romances can create horror in the reader’s heart whether that is intentional or not – depends on the story I guess. However, yours seem to be separate genres altogether so let’s explore that for our readers.
 
 First, congratulations on having your website selected as one of the best websites. It is clean, neat, and easily navigated. Did you design it yourself or did you have input from a web designer?
 
Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you like the site! (It was voted one of the Top Ten Websites in the Fictionaddiction.net website contest.)
 
I write in several genres, including horror, romance, and non-fiction, so when I was outlining my site, I knew I wanted to have separate sections for each genre. That way, people who are interested in romance can go right to the romance pages, and readers who want to learn about my pet care books can go to the non-fiction pages, etc. I came up with the basic design myself (the buttons and colors) but I had a web-person actually “make” the site.
 
You are indeed a multi-published author with “10-Minute Romances” in the Sun for one —tell us about these romance stories. How did you get started writing them? Can anyone write and submit or what was the process you went through to get yours published?
 
The Sun’s romances were a lot of fun to write. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the Sun is no longer publishing fiction. The “10-Minute Romances” were some of the first short stories I had published. One day I came across a copy of the Sun, read the romance and said, “I can write this!” so, I did. I had the pleasure of working with a fantastic editor on all my Sun stories, and it was a great experience.
 
You also write romance for Amber Quill Press - Amber Heat division – the titles I saw are Dalton’s Temptation and The Pauper Prince. The Pauper Prince was published in March of this year so start by telling us a bit about that one – like where did you get your story ideas, did it have anything to do with The Prince and The Pauper the classic? When you started writing this tale had you characters that you wanted to use or was there a title that intrigued you, just how did you develop it? Dalton’s Temptation is a great title for a romance. With names now days you never know if Dalton will be male or female – clue us in. Who is Dalton and what or who is his temptation?
 
I have five titles with Amber Quill Press. Dalton’s Temptation and The Pauper Prince are full-length novels available in both paperback and electronic formats. A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord, and The Sexy Stranger are novellas available in electronic format.
 
The Pauper Prince is the third (and final) book in my “Royal Desires” trilogy that started with another Amber Quill Press book - A Most Unusual Princess. A Most Unusual Princess was a winner in the 2005 Amber Heat “Heat Wave” contest winner in the fantasy romance category. My other two books The Dark Lord and The Sexy Stranger were also winners that year. (In the historical and contemporary categories, respectively.)
 
In A Most Unusual Princess, Dalton is the main love interest for the Princess Elara. After I finished writing A Most Unusual Princess, I knew I had to write a story that picked up where the first one left off and focused more on Dalton and Elara as a married couple. The premise of that book is simple: Will Dalton be tempted by a seductive girl at an emperor’s “pleasure palace”? The girl goes out of her way to seduce him at every turn, and he’s very tempted to give in to his desires…I won’t spoil the surprise for readers, but the book has a few interesting twists, turns, and surprises.
 
Dalton’s Temptation also introduces readers to Elara’s hedonistic brother, Prince Allan. He was one of those secondary characters that threatened to run away with the story. Allan was so interesting that I just had to write a book about him. The Pauper Prince is Allan’s story. (It has nothing to do with The Prince and The Pauper.) After what Allan did in Dalton’s Temptation, he’s been banished from the royal family and is forced to live a life of a commoner (hence, the “pauper” part of the title.) The Pauper Prince picks up where Dalton’s Temptation leaves off and follows Allan’s adventures as he falls in love and tries to redeem himself.
 
I’d like to add that although I’ve written these books as a series, each book stands alone as a separate story. Readers can read just one book and come away with a sense of completion. I don’t leave anyone guessing about the plot or characters from book to book. Everything’s tied up at the end of each story, yet each book follows the recurring characters as their lives develop and change.
 
It is no wonder Halloween is your favorite holiday – I’m referring to your horror stories. I love horror stories although Stephen King is beyond horror in my book – he seems to know exactly where all the monsters hide in the human psyche. Do your horror stories emulate him or are they of a different ilk? I love Douglas Clegg – and some of John Saul’s work – are yours anywhere in this ballpark? Do tell us a couple titles and where we might find them.
 
I absolutely love Stephen King’s stories! I actually started out writing horror short stories before I wrote romance. I’ve had several horror short stories published in magazines and online. My Halloween story, “The Uninvited” won First Place in the World Horror Con writing contest. It appeared in Weird Tales magazine in April 2006. My other Halloween-themed short story, “Kropsy’s Curse” was published in October 2005 issue of The Far Sector. It is available online as an e-story. Readers can follow this link to order (and it’s also on my website): http://ebooks.fictionwise.com/ebooks/eBook17627.htm.
 
I’m also proud of my flash fiction piece “Guest of Honor” that was chosen for inclusion in The Best of the First Line. Most recently, my thriller “Diamonds” won an Honorable Mention in Writing Readers “Killer Thriller” contest - although it hasn’t been published yet. I have several horror stories in progress and others waiting to be published. I’m also working on a series of horror/thriller novels/novellas.
 
You have participated in some anthologies, including Haunted Encounters: True Stories of Departed Pets, and At Home and Abroad: Prize-Winning Stories, please elaborate on these for us if you will.
 
My story, “The Gray Ghost”, was chosen for inclusion in At Home and Abroad: Prize-Winning Stories. Despite the title, “The Gray Ghost” isn’t really about a ghost---it’s about a sad little boy and his dog---yet there is a surreal ending to the story. 
My other anthology story, “The Silent Guardian”, appears in Haunted Encounters: True Stories of Departed Pets. It is a true ghost story that also involves a dog, and it really happened to me as it appears in the book.
 
I saw some non-fiction works on your beautiful website about cats & kittens and an unusual choice of pets, the hermit crab. Tell our Manic Readers about these books.
 
I’m naturally an animal lover, which is a good thing, considering many of my books and short stories are about pets! I’ve written three pet care books, including Hermit Crabs for Dummies, Cats, Quick & Easy Cat & Kitten Care, and I was the co-author of award-winning book, The Simple Guide to Cats.
 
I enjoy writing pet care guides because I feel that all too often, people buy a pet because it’s “cute” (or it’s a curiosity), without knowing how to properly care for it. My goal with these books is to educate pet owners/readers in an informative, yet fun way, and teach them everything they need to know about keeping their pet happy and healthy throughout its lifetime. It’s sad to think of how many pets are neglected because owners don’t properly care for them.
 
For example, most people don’t realize that hermit crabs need proper humidity and moisture levels in order to stay hydrated breathe through their gills (yes, they have gills!), and that they do not reproduce in captivity. I learned a lot about hermit crabs when writing that book, and I hope readers learn something, too.
 
I am curious, as I’m sure our readers are, just what works you have in progress now? I believe I read something about a historical romance? Is this a challenge after writing more contemporary romances previously? What made you decide to give this genre a whirl?
 
I consider myself fortunate to be able to write in any genre or sub-genre. In romance, I’m naturally drawn to historical/fantasy settings, but if I get a good idea for a book, I’ll write it, no matter what genre it is.
 
I just finished another fantasy romance novella for Amber Quill Press entitled A Midsummer Night’s Delights. It’s scheduled for release in October. In addition to that, I’m writing several short stories in the horror genre. I keep readers updated on my latest news in my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill.
 
Now that we’ve grilled you all about your writing, tell us about the author Kelli A. Wilkins – Who is she really on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning? What do you do when you aren’t writing? What is a favorite hobby of yours, if you have one? Do you write under more then one name why or why not?
 
When I’m not writing, I’m usually working around the house, gardening, going to flea markets, or reading. I enjoy hanging out with friends, going to the movies, traveling, and relaxing in front of the television with my husband. (My top three favorite shows right now are Lost, Dr. Who, and Torchwood.)
 
I don’t write under a pen name. I work hard on all of my books and short stories and I deserve credit for them. I think readers want to connect with authors and get to know the person who wrote the book they’re reading. (Remember the Richard Bachman/Stephen King fiasco? It annoyed a lot of readers.)
 
I’ve talked to authors who’ve written under their real names in one genre (for example, non-fiction) and used pen names for other genres (say, horror fiction). Most of them regret doing it, because it’s a lot of work. If you write under different names you need to build separate websites and author pages for each pen name. Also, it’s hard to establish a wide fan base if people aren’t sure who you “really” are.  
 
One benefit to writing everything in my own name is that I can list all of my writings (in each genre) on one website. This makes it easier for readers to find my books and other stories.
 
Most readers want to know how their favorite authors come up with the titles of their books, next most asked question is where do you get your ideas? Would you tell us your take on titles and 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.
 
Titles are sometimes harder to come up with than the whole story! In some cases, I’ll have a title in mind before I start to write the book or story, but many times I don’t have the title until well after I’ve finished writing. I try to find a theme or a line in the story to use in the title (or as the title). If that doesn’t work, I’ll brainstorm about the characters or related words, then mix and match potential title ideas until something clicks.
 
Where can we find out more about you, your books, and what you are up to regularly? Do you have a website, newsletter, blogs, social pages?
 
Readers can learn more about me and all my writings on my contest-winning website: www.KelliWilkins.com. They can read excerpts, reviews, order my books, and follow links to interviews and free story reads. Readers can also sign up for my free monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, via the “Contact the Author” form. The newsletter contains my latest news and updates, plus a “For Writers” section (it’s like a blog) that contains writing tips and prompts.
 
I also have author pages set up on several social network sites, including: ManicReaders.com, (of course!), Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com, and AuthorsDen.com, just to name a few.
 
 Kelli, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and tell us more about you. I wish you the best of luck with your writing career and look forward to seeing more of your work.
 
Thanks so much! It’s great to chat with the Manic Readers. I hope everyone enjoyed the interview! Happy Reading!
-Kelli
 
Interviewed by Billie A Williams



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