Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interview with a Mistress of the Macabre - Kelli Wilkins talks horror! Part 2

Hi everyone!

This week on the blog, I’m sharing part two of my interview with Dark Moon Books. My horror short, “Sometimes Monsters are Real” appears in their horror anthology, Mistresses of the Macabre.
More than 500 people submitted horror stories - but only 18 were chosen - and I am thrilled to be part of this collection of great stories written by women. To quote the editor of the anthology, “Kelli A. Wilkins is the author of “Sometimes Monsters are Real,” a story about a deal with the devil that didn’t turn out as expected. Not to mention, it is the only story to make the editor cry.”

I’m usually asked about my romances, so it was a nice change of pace to share my thoughts about writing horror. Enjoy!

DM: What comes first to you, the plot, the characters, or the ending?
KW: That depends. Sometimes I’ll have a character in my head and I follow him or her around for a bit and see what the story is. More often though, the story starts with a scene or an opening line and then the rest of the plot filters through. Every so often I’ll get an entire story (or book) in my head all at once and have to start writing it down immediately before it gets lost.

DM: Do you imagine colors or music as you write?
KW: I do see colors and vivid details as I write. I also listen to music when I’m writing, so I have a lot of senses activated all at once.

DM: How much research do you typically do before beginning to write?
KW: That depends on what I’m writing. For my historical romances I did a lot of research about time periods, history, what life was like back then, etc. Before I wrote my paranormal romance Beauty & the Bigfoot I did hours of research on Bigfoot. For my horror stories, I might research something that the character needs to know that I don’t—or research a fact or some piece of history—but for the most part, my horror stories don’t require too much research.

DM: Do you illustrate the story in your mind as you write it?
KW: Yes. When I’m writing the first draft, I see the story happening in front of me, like I’m watching a play or a movie. Then I write down what happens. I’m not sure if this is something all authors do, but it’s the process that works for me. Basically, I spy on the characters and write down what they do. When I revise, I go into the character’s head for dialog and details from his or her perspective.

DM: Is writing a male character harder?
KW: Even though my protagonist is female, I’d like to answer this. Many of my other horror stories have male protagonists and my romances are full of male characters. (For example. my paranormal romance, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover is written entirely in a first-person male point of view.)

For me, it’s not hard to write a story from a male POV, (I just put myself into that character’s head) but I make a conscious effort to go back in the revision/editing stage and check the male character’s voice and mannerisms: Is his dialog something a guy would say? Is that how a guy would react in this situation?

A writing teacher once told me that men usually use less words than women when they speak and they notice different things (and ignore different things) than women do. If I’m stuck on something, I ask male friends for their opinion on how/what a guy would do or say in a situation. One example came up when I was writing a romance: what word do guys use when referring to their penis? Do they call it dick, cock, or what? (I got very detailed answers!)

DM: What else do you do besides write?
KW: When I’m not writing I like to read, garden, travel, go to concerts, visit flea markets, and explore haunted/creepy places. I also watch TV. Supernatural, Grimm, The Dead Files, and Ghost Adventures are my main shows.

DM: Favorite dessert?
KW: This is a hard question! Pomegranate margaritas. Mint chip ice cream. Banana cream pie. Chocolate pudding.

DM: Favorite time of year
KW: Fall, absolutely. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I was raised in rural upstate New York surrounded by mountains and trees. A lot of my horror stories take place in small towns in the fall, and sometimes around Halloween.

DM: Pimp yourself, include links
I invite readers to visit my website to catch up on all of my writings (horror and otherwise). The horror section of the site has excerpts and links to the anthologies and e-mags containing my stories. The News & Links page has links to my interviews and guest blogs, along with contact info. (I like hearing from readers, so drop me a line.)

I’m also on:
Twitter: @KWilkinsauthor
and have author pages on Shelfari, Goodreads, Author’s Den, and Manic Readers.

It was great sharing my thoughts with everyone. I enjoy hearing from readers and would like to know what they think of my horror (or romance) stories.

Happy Reading!

(or, as Elvira says . . . “Unpleasant Dreams!”)

You can read the full interview online at: http://www.lastwritesdmd.com/killer-kelli-a-wilkins/

Next week, I’ll be posting my newsletter - filled with links, news, interviews, and more!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Interview with a Mistress of the Macabre - Kelli Wilkins talks horror!

Hi everyone!

This week I’m sharing an excerpt from my interview with Dark Moon Books. My horror short, “Sometimes Monsters are Real” appears in their new horror anthology, Mistresses of the Macabre.

More than 500 people submitted horror stories - but only 18 were chosen - and I am thrilled to be part of this collection of great stories written by women. To quote the editor of the anthology,
Kelli A. Wilkins is the author of “Sometimes Monsters are Real,” a story about a deal with the devil that didn’t turn out as expected. Not to mention, it is the only story to make the editor cry.”

I’m usually asked about my romances, so it was a nice change of pace to share my thoughts about writing horror. Enjoy! I’ll post part 2 of the interview next week.

Dark Moon: What was the very first thing you ever wrote and how old were you?

Kelli A. Wilkins: I was probably 5 or 6 years old when I started writing (and poorly illustrating) the stories in my head. One of the first things I remember writing was a story about aliens in a UFO hovering over a house and abducting people. (I’m not quite sure what my parents thought of that!)

DM: What got you into writing? Who influences you?

KW: I’ve always loved horror and I’ve always had an active imagination. Anything horror/speculative/creepy on TV had my attention from a very young age. I watched Dark Shadows, The Addams Family, The Munsters and Bewitched (well, Sam was a witch!), along with The Twilight Zone. I saw Rosemary’s Baby when I was 6 years old and wasn’t scared—I was annoyed that they didn’t show the baby! I probably sat through at least 500 horror movies by the time I was in college. (Some good, some bad, and some somewhere in between.) They were a good way to learn how to build suspense, and how to scare people.

My imagination combined with my love of horror inspired me to write my own stories. I credit Stephen King and Rod Serling as my two biggest influences—they know how to tell a good story. Whether it was an episode of The Twilight Zone or a short story in Night Shift (which I read when I was 8), the story/plot was the thing that drew you in. Once you were hooked, the monster/creepy thing in the closet was there to get you. After being exposed to these types of stories I was motivated to write my own.

I didn’t actively pursue writing for publication until after college. Up until that point I was writing stories and taking writing classes for myself. I read a lot of horror anthologies and it was always my goal to have my short stories published for everyone to read.

DM: In the past, female writers, such as SE Hinton of The Outsiders, wrote under and ambiguous pseudonym so that guys would view the work objectively. Have you ever thought about going under an ambiguous pseudonym?

KW: I have thought about it a few times—but not because I want to be ambiguous or hide who I am. What most readers probably don’t know is that in addition to my horror stories, I’ve also written 15 romances that vary from mildly sensual to sizzling super-hot. Most people think writing horror and romance is an odd combination—but I like to say that one half of my brain writes the horror and the other half writes the romance. Sometimes I combine them into paranormal romances. (I also wrote science fiction stories for The Sun and had a great time with them.)

Writing in different genres lets me explore different plots, settings, and characters. After I finish writing a romance or two, I like to go back to horror for a while and write something dark and/or creepy. (My horror stories are usually more psychological/scary than gory.)

People have asked me why I don’t use my initials or a male name for the horror stories and use my real name for romance. I tell them that I’m proud of everything I’ve written and I want my name on all of it. It also makes it easier for readers who may want to switch over from horror to romance—or vice versa—to find all my writings.

DM: Women have traditionally been shunned in the horror industry. What made you decide to write horror and how do you see the genre evolving for women?

KW: I never “decided” to write horror—it just seemed natural to me. (In a way, I couldn’t not write horror.) I had lots of ideas for creepy stories in my head and the best way to get them out is to put them on paper and hope that someone will want to read them. The same goes for romance—I never set out to be a romance author, but the stories and characters came to me, so I wrote them down. Although romance is traditionally a female market and horror “belongs” to the men, I never let it stop me. I write the story that comes to me.

I’m hoping that readers of horror won’t skip over a story just because it is written by a woman. (We’ll surprise you!) The story’s the thing—and as long as it’s a good, engaging story, the gender of the person who wrote it shouldn’t matter. (If the story is boring or doesn’t make sense the reader will be turned off no matter who wrote it.) I think some readers would be surprised at how “dark” female writers can be when it comes to horror. Maybe some women are turned off or unwilling to let themselves go to those dark places to write horror, but for some of us, it comes natural.

I never gave my gender a thought when I started writing horror. I wrote my story, sent it out, and it got published—or didn’t. It never occurred to me that someone would look at a horror story written by a woman any differently than one written by a man. But I guess some people do.

Back when I was taking writing classes I had to read a story aloud in front of the group. The first scene of my horror story was about a peeping tom masturbating in the bushes. (Great way to break the ice in class, huh?) Everyone was shocked by that and then they were creeped out by the story. After I finished the reading, a football player-type guy turned to me and said, “You scare me. I don’t even want to walk out to the parking lot with you.” I took it as a compliment! He couldn’t wrap his brain around how someone who looked “nice” could write dark/horrific things.

Publishing has changed tremendously in the last few years and there are many opportunities for authors through e-pubs and e-magazines. I hope editors are publishing stories based on their merits instead of the author’s gender. I tell all aspiring writers the same thing—write the story you have in your head (no matter what genre) and send it out. You never know when you’ll get published!

DM: What was your inspiration for this tale?

KW: One night I was lying in bed thinking about nothing and the words “Knock, knock, knock . . . ” popped into my head. I thought: what would I do if I was home alone and something started knocking on the ceiling?” I get a lot of ideas before I fall asleep and many of them start with “What if . . . ”

Once I knew something was knocking, I let my imagination wander. I thought about what the woman home alone would do and think in a situation like this. (Naturally you have to investigate the knocking . . . but you really don’t want to.) And why is she alone? What’s in the attic? Why is it knocking? (When I sent a draft of this story to a writing friend, he told me he has the same type of attic crawlspace in his bedroom, and now he’s afraid of going up there.)

The story kept building on itself from there and I ran with it. I liked making my main character just a little bit off. She’s barely holding herself together and dealing with her past, and then this happens in the middle of the night.

Want to read more? Read the full interview online at: http://www.lastwritesdmd.com/killer-kelli-a-wilkins/

Look for part 2 of the interview next week!
Happy Reading!

Visit Kelli's new site to catch up on all her writings: www.KelliWilkins.com

Monday, April 1, 2013

Get ready for Wrestlemania with A PERFECT MATCH - Kelli's Wrestling Romance!

Hi everyone!

With Wrestlemania in my own backyard this year, I decided to share an inside look (and a hot excerpt) from my sizzling Amber Heat romance, A Perfect Match.  At the time I got the idea for A Perfect Match, I was deep into working on a very different contemporary, Trust with Hearts. I set that book aside and started writing about wrestlers!

A Perfect Match is a contemporary romance set in the world of professional wrestling As anyone who knows me will attest, wrestling has always been a part of my life, so it was only natural that one day I’d write a book with wrestling as the backdrop.

People who have read the book have asked me to questions: 1. Which wrestlers are the characters based on? and 2. How do you know all this stuff about wresting?

It’s easier to answer the second question first. Wrestling has always been a staple in my family. (I like to say it’s our family tradition.) Years ago, I was fortunate enough to be on friendly terms with a bunch of wrestlers. My husband and I would go to matches and hang out with the guys after the shows. (No, I wasn’t a ring rat.) I picked up a lot of terms and got a real feel for what they did and how they experienced life on the road. I wasn’t even thinking about writing then, so I had no idea that one day I’d use what I learned in a book. When I got the idea for the book, I was able to incorporate much of what I knew into the plot, through Danni’s point of view.

The male characters in my book (Vinnie, Ev, Thorn, Nick) aren’t based on any one wrestler or real person. Like characters in any story, they’re a combination of real and invented personalities and have their own individual traits. I specifically made sure that Vinnie and the others aren’t linked to real wrestlers, because it would take away from the story. Also, since I’m writing fiction, I was able to invent whatever character flaws and backstory info that I wanted.

After the book was finished and polished I submitted it to a bunch of writing contests and “big-name traditional” publishers. Results were mixed – the contest people loved it. They said it had great characters, interesting (and different) kind of plot, and lots of sexual tension. A Perfect Match was a top 10 finalist in the first “American Title” contest and won awards in a few other contests. But editors told me that nobody would want to read a romance about wrestlers. (Really? Tell that to the thousands of wrestling fans out there.) I’m happy to say that the book has received several excellent reviews. (You can read them on my site: www.KelliWilkins.com

Here’s a short summary & an excerpt:

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?


Danni hurried down the hall to the locker room. She hadn’t meant to be late picking up Vin tonight, but the moron lot attendant wouldn’t let her back into the parking area. She pushed open the locker room door and rushed inside. “Vin, I’m sorry I—”

Her tote bag slipped through her fingers and dropped to the floor. Vin stood less than three feet away, soaking wet. A white towel barely covered his waist.

“Oh, my God!” Her entire body flushed as a tingling sensation built deep in her belly. Vin was practically naked and dripping wet from the shower.

“I…um…you’re…I…oh God,” she muttered and whirled around. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

Vin’s warm hand settled on her shoulder. He gently turned her to face him. Beads of water dripped down his chest, and she longed to lick them away. “Um…you…you’re wet.” She glanced at the towel and prayed it would fall off his waist.

“And you’re not?”

She squealed as Vin drew her to his chest. His mouth covered hers, and she lost all sense of reason.

A wet heat built between her legs as Vin’s tongue entered her mouth. Her body surged beneath his touch. She clutched him tight and dug her fingers into the solid flesh of his back and ribs. He smelled like soap and water and yet there was a hint of something manly, musky about him.

Vin moaned and cupped her buttocks through her sundress, melding her body against his. A high-pitched mewing sound escaped her throat as a long-denied lust flared within her. Was this really happening? She’d had this fantasy for so many nights, would she wake up and discover it was only another dirty dream?

She slid her hands down Vin’s flat stomach to the edge of the towel. For a second, she hesitated, unsure. Did she dare do what every instinct commanded? Vin’s tongue plunged deeper into her mouth, wordlessly urging her on.


The book link is: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/PerfectMatch.html

I hope you’ll check it out! I’d love to hear what readers think about the book, the story, and the characters.

Until next time,