Hi Kelli, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy writing life to do this interview with me, we here at Coffee Time Romance really appreciate that. We’re very excited to learn more about you! So that being said, let’s get started!
What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I never actually decided to be a writer—it was just something that seemed natural to me. I’ve been writing stories since I was in elementary school and writing always interested me. I’ve been blessed with a lot of ideas and I just kept writing story after story as they came to me. Oddly, I never tried to get any of my writings published until I enrolled in a commercial writer’s program as an adult. People liked reading my short stories, and I liked writing them, so I decided to submit them for publication. From there, my “official” writing career was born.
Do you have a favorite genre or two that you like to write in?
I write in several genres: horror, romance, sci fi, and non-fiction. I have a lot of ideas, so I’m able to diversify and switch gears now and then. In romance, I like to write historical/fantasy stories.
My “Royal Desires” trilogy from Amber Quill Press (A Most Unusual Princess, Dalton’s Temptation, and The Pauper Prince) is a “medieval” fantasy. I liked writing the series because it allowed me to create a whole world for my characters. My romance novella, The Dark Lord, is historical, and The Sexy Stranger is contemporary. 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. My upcoming novella, A Midsummer Night’s Delights, is also a fantasy story.
What actually motivates you to write? Do you have a muse or muses that keep you going during those times when you may experience writer's block?
I’m self-motivated. I keep a folder of ideas, and if I’m ever at a loss for my next project, I read through the folder and see what story/plot/idea appeals to me to write next. Whenever I get stuck on a story or need to work out some details (of plot, characters, or whatever), I take a break from writing and go for a walk to clear my head. Usually the “writer’s block” clears up on its own and I get clarity on how to fix the story.
Where do you think you get the ideas for your books?
Ideas are everywhere. I’m constantly observing what goes on around me, listening to other peoples’ stories, seeking out unusual settings, and noticing what most people don’t see. All of that, plus my overactive imagination, leads to story ideas. Once in a while, a story idea will just 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.
When I wrote A Most Unusual Princess, I knew I wanted to write a story about a headstrong princess who was far from typical. (And boy, was she ever!) I fell in love with Elara and the other characters, and from there, created an entire trilogy. For The Dark Lord, I wanted to evoke a feeling of gothic mystery and suspense. Sometimes stories aren’t necessarily based on a concrete idea as much as they’re based on a character, mood, or setting.
Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your own writing style?
I read a lot of books in all genres, horror, mystery, romance, general fiction, and non-fiction. I think I’ve been influenced in some way by everything I’ve ever read. Each time I pick up a book I notice how the author draws me into the story, if he/she keeps me interested, what works for the story and what doesn’t. I think reading helps me develop my writing skills.
What is your favorite part of being a published author? What is your least favorite part?
I love the process of writing the story. Creating characters, worlds for the characters to live in, and telling the story of their adventures is a lot of fun. It’s interesting to see what the characters do, watch them fall in love, and learn how they overcome their troubles to have a happy ending.
However, once the “fun” part of writing is over, then the real “work” begins. Revising, editing, and proofreading the story is necessary, but it’s not terribly creative. You have to pull yourself out of the story and focus on wording, the plot, and other details that make the story “work” as a whole. This painstaking process has its rewards in the end, though. I have a phrase I use when I’ve finished a story: “I love having written.” This means I love having it all finished, polished, and done!
How have your friends and family responded to your becoming a published author?
My friends and family have been very supportive. My husband is proud to call me the “resident writer” in the family. I have a few close friends I turn to for encouragement and guidance about my writing, and family members are always asking about my latest (or next) project.
What do you think is the hardest thing about writing romance?
I think one of the hardest things about writing romance (aside from creating the story in general) is to write love scenes. The intensity, details, and descriptions have to be tailored to the genre and heat level of a story. Plus, you have to make the scene develop naturally and fit the personalities of the characters.
If you’re writing a tender historical romance, love scenes are handled quite differently than if you are writing a super sizzling erotic romance. The heat levels and intensities vary among all my books, so I’m able to experiment with different scenarios in the love scenes. Sometimes you have to set aside your “internal editor” and write the scene that’s appropriate for the book and the characters, regardless of what other people think you “should” write.
What would you like your readers to come away with after reading one of your books?
Ideally, I’d like my readers to become involved in the characters’ lives and fully engrossed in the story. I’ve had some great reader feedback about my books. People were surprised at the twists and turns in The Pauper Prince, and wondered how (or even if) Claudette and Allan would end up together. One person confessed to tearing up during parts of Dalton’s Temptation. Those are great things for a writer to hear. It tells me that I’ve created believable characters that readers care about.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
The best advice I can give to any writer (regardless of what genre he or she likes to write) is to keep writing. It takes a lot of dedication and determination to sit down every day and write something. But the more you write, the easier it gets. Writing classes are a great way to learn the basics and meet other writers. If possible, join a writer’s group or a critique group to get feedback on your stories. When you’ve written the best story you can, submit it! You can’t get published if you never submit, and you never know when your first acceptance will arrive.
Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed sharing my insights with Coffee Time Romance & More. Readers can find out more about my romances on my website: www.KelliWilkins.com. They can also sign up for my monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill.
And thank you, Kelli! I’ve enjoyed learning more about you and your writing and I look forward, as I’m sure we all do to reading many more of your books in the future. Take Care!