Author Interview:: Kelli A. Wilkins

Interview with Horror and Romance Author Kelli A. Wilkins

1. Tell us about your latest books and how they came to be.  

Hi everyone! This year, I’ve published three books. In February, I released my guide to writing, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction. It’s a fun and easy guide designed for beginner writers who need a boost of motivation and simple instructions on how to get started.

This autumn, I released two horror ebooks. Kropsy’s Curse and Dead Til Dawn. I’ve always been a big horror fan, and over the years I’ve divided my time between writing sensual romances and spooky horror tales.

Kropsy’s Curse was a fun story to write. It’s about two boys who want to conjure a spirit in a graveyard on Halloween. I came up with the ending first, (it’s a surprise, so I can’t share the secret!) before I wrote the rest of the story.

Dead Til Dawn is set on the Gettysburg battlefield at night. In this novella, a group of friends goes out to explore the Devil’s Den in the hopes of finding a ghost. As a mysterious battlefield fog surrounds them, they quickly realize they’re not alone. This story was inspired by a trip I took to Gettysburg and a real (and totally creepy) encounter I had with battlefield fog late one night.

Here are the summaries and links to all three books:

You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction
If you’ve always dreamed of writing and getting published, but have no idea where or how to start—THIS is the book for you! 
Award-winning author Kelli A. Wilkins takes you step-by-step through the writing process, covering the basics of plotting, editing, revising, and submitting. In addition, she explores ways to get your creativity flowing, explains where authors get ideas, and shows you how to create interesting characters for your story. Helpful tips and fun writing exercises throughout the book get you started! 
Order your copy here:

Kropsy's Curse
 Late one Halloween night, two young boys venture into a secluded graveyard in the hopes of conjuring up a spirit. Although Kyle is skeptical and would rather be home eating candy and watching horror movies, he reluctantly goes along with Jerry’s plan. He doesn’t believe Ouija boards work—until this one starts spelling out a message…
 This Halloween-themed 1500-word short story is a cautionary tale about playing with a Ouija board in a graveyard.
It's only $.99 on Kindle:

Dead ‘Til Dawn
Disturbing the dead doesn’t prove you’re brave – it proves you’re stupid.
 After touring Gettysburg battlefield, Jessica, Tim, and Steve decide to sneak out to the Devil’s Den for some late-night fun. Jessica’s friend Kathy objects, and warns them about trespassing where they’re not wanted.
Undaunted by ghost stories and fueled by his own arrogance, Tim races toward the Devil’s Den. When the group drives through mysterious battlefield fog, they find themselves surrounded by Civil War soldiers looking for a little fun of their own.

Kathy leaves the others to fend for themselves and flees to Little Round Top. Although she’s rescued by a kindhearted Union solider named Charlie, she refuses to believe that what she’s experiencing is real. As the nighttime battle rages on, Charlie introduces Kathy to other weary soldiers, and she quickly realizes she’s trapped in the land of the dead until dawn.
Spend a night in the land of the dead with Dead ‘Til Dawn. This Civil War themed ghost story is only $2.99 on Kindle:

2. What three words best describe your main characters?

In Kropsy’s Curse, Kyle is cautious, smart, and quick thinking. Kathy from Dead Til Dawn is level-headed, respectful, and self-reliant.

3. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?

I’m not sure I “create” the characters. Whenever I get an idea for a story, the characters usually “show up” at the same time. For instance, when I got the idea for Kropsy’s Curse, I immediately knew it would be about two grade school boys out on Halloween. One is pushy and wants to fool around with a Ouija board, while the other one is sensible and wants to go home. When I write, the process is more like I’m meeting the characters or discovering them and their stories.

Finding the right name for a character is sometimes the hardest part of writing a story. Some characters will tell me their names right away, but many times I have to think about the name and try out a few different ones before I get the right one. Once in a while, I’ll write a few scenes referring to the character as “Ralph” just to get the words on paper. After a while, the character’s real name will come to me.

I try to add as many details as possible to all my characters and make them “real” for readers. They all need to have goals, motivation, and conflict — as well as histories, personal likes and dislikes. Sometimes it’s hard to introduce all that into a short story, but I do what I can to bring the characters to life.

4. Do your characters follow your plot path or do they take on a life of their own? Do you keep them in check?

Each story comes to me in a different way. Before I start writing, I make a rough outline of what happens in the story, and any snippets of dialogue or certain details I want to include. This gives me a road map to work off of as I write. My outlines for short stories are very bare bones — maybe a page, tops. When I write novels, I create a more detailed outline for each scene and chapter and include information about which characters are in the scene, whose point of view each scene is in, etc. I find that it’s easier (and faster) for me to write this way and I don’t get lost in the middle or forget something I wanted to include.

But as I write, I allow myself some leeway to explore things I hadn’t considered in my outline. I might add entire scenes or write scenes that are later omitted. Sometimes I’ll be writing a scene and the characters “take over” and decide the scene should go a different way, or something I planned on happening changes. When that happens, I go with it and see where the characters are leading me. I’ll write the scenes and delete them later if they don’t work or if they’re not a good fit for the plot.

Writing a new story is always an adventure for me, and I never know where the characters or the plot will take me.

5. Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

No, I don’t, but I occasionally suffer from writer’s procrastination! Basically that’s when my brain says “enough!” and goes on strike when I’m supposed to be editing or revising a book. Usually this happens when I’m overloaded and trying to do too much. To counteract it, I take a break and let my mind recharge and rest. I go for walks, exercise, read something I didn’t write, or watch TV. After a day or so, I’m ready to get back to work.

6. What types of books do you like to read?

I read pretty much everything from A-Z: fiction, non-fiction, history, self-help, horror, mystery, thrillers, romance, detective novels, or whatever looks interesting. Growing up, I hung out at the library and read anything I could find. I read Stephen King short stories and other horror fiction, but I also read all the Little House and Nancy Drew books.

7. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

I read, travel, go to creepy/haunted places, visit flea markets (they’re great for story ideas), and garden.

8. What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I just finished writing a historical romance set in Nebraska in 1877. As of now, the title is Lies, Love, and Redemption, and it’s scheduled to be published in august 2017. Stay tuned for details on my blog and in my newsletter. I’m also outlining a paranormal romance and another gay contemporary. In the horror department, I’m working on a few short stories and a horror novel/novella. And, now through October 20, all of my Amber Quill romances are on sale at 50% off. You can see a full title list here:

9. What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?

I included all the advice, knowledge, and tips I’ve received over the years in my writing book, You Can WriteReally! One piece of advice I always share is to take writing classes. That’s how I started out, and writing classes really helped me develop my skills and taught me how to write a great story.

I also advise anyone who wants to write to sit down in a quiet spot and actually write. A lot of people talk about being a writer or writing a story “someday” but not very many people do. Talking about writing and actually writing are two very different things. Once you sit down and start writing (even if it’s just the outline or the first scene) you’ll find the motivation to continue. (I talk more about this in my book.) The bottom line is: if you want to write, write, and don’t let anyone stop you!

10. Where can readers find you and your books?

Thanks for letting me visit! It was fun sharing my thoughts with readers. I invite everyone to visit my site to read excerpts, reviews, and summaries of all my writings. You can sign up for my newsletter, Kelli’s Quill, here:

I enjoy hearing from readers and other authors. So feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, and to let me know how you liked my books. You can catch up on all of my stories and follow me on social media here:

Newsletter sign-up:

Happy Reading!



Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning romance and horror author who has published more than 95 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books.
Her short horror fiction has appeared in several anthologies. In autumn 2015 she released two horror ebooks, Kropsy’s Curse and Dead Til Dawn. In 2014, her horror fiction appeared in Moon Shadows, Wrapped in White, and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.
You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction was released in February 2015. This fun and informative non-fiction guide is based on her 15 years of experience as a writer, and is available exclusively on Amazon.

Kelli published three romances in 2014: Dangerous Indenture (a spicy historical/mystery), Wilderness Bride (a tender historical/Western/adventure), and A Secret Match (a gay contemporary set in the world of professional wrestling). Her romances span many genres and heat levels.

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