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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Author Interview: Kelli Wilkins

Whipped Cream is pleased to welcome Kelli Wilkins, whose latest book Trust With Hearts will be released April 25 from Amber Quill Press . Kelli is a versatile author, writing not only erotic romance but horror and non-fiction as well. She never actually intended to write romance of any kind, much less erotic romances. She began writing horror short stories and scaring the people in her writing class.

"One day an idea for a story popped into my head and I asked my writing teacher about it. She said, 'That’s a romance!' I asked her how to get rid of it and she told me to write it down. After that, another romance idea came to me, and I wrote that one down, too. Before I knew it, I was writing short romance as well as full-length novels."

Switching genres allows her to explore different plots, writing styles and characters.

"I think it’s good to change things up every once in a while, it keeps the writing fresh," she told me. "Of course, I combined my love of romance and horror into a paranormal romance, Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover."

She wasn't 100% sure what constituted erotica, erotic romance, and porn when she first started writing. She told me that everyone she talked to had a different opinion about it, so she devised her own definitions. I asked her to share them with us.

"I consider ‘erotica’ to be stories that explore a character’s erotic adventures or exploits and contain explicit details – but romance isn’t at the core of the story. An example would be Anne Rice’s “Beauty” books. The reader follows Beauty and the other characters through their sexual adventures, but they’re not involved in romantic relationships.

"I define ‘erotic romance’ as a sexually-charged story that has romance (either M/F or same-sex) as the main focus. To me, an erotic romance needs to have an interesting plot and character development that keeps readers wondering 'What happens next? Will the couple get together? How will the story end?'

"Erotic romance has more (and more detailed!) love scenes than a ‘traditional’ romance. And there are many different ‘heat’ levels to erotic romance. Some are tamer and only hint at what’s going on between the sheets – or as in my book, The Sexy Stranger, the story builds sexual tension as the characters tease and flirt with each other. Some erotic romances (such as The Pauper Prince) include more explicit details and let readers peek in on the sexual activities of the romantic couple, while others (A Midsummer Night’s Delights) are scorching hot and include toys, multiple partners and other sexual acts that might be considered 'taboo' to some readers.

"And porn? I think porn is basically people having sex. Usually there’s no character development, story conflict, or background details. The quickie definition I sometimes use is 'The pizza guy shows up, finds half-naked horny women waiting to pounce on him, they screw, he leaves.' It’s a one-time encounter that doesn’t aim to make readers care about who the characters are – the sole purpose is to show people screwing and… well, we all know the rest."

Kelli generally looks for a unique plot and interesting characters to support that plot in her own fiction.

"When it comes down to the basics, a reader won’t sit through any story (no matter what genre) that isn’t attention-grabbing or that doesn’t have appealing, believable characters," she explained. "Readers like to get to know the characters and identify with them as they have their adventures. Without a solid base, the story will fall flat, regardless of how exciting the love scenes are."

Once she has the story down, she turns the characters loose and lets them have fun.

"When I write love scenes I sort of stand back and let the characters do what comes natural. I generally know how far the scene will go ahead of time, but I let the characters take over and enjoy themselves. Later, when I edit/revise the story, I go back and cut anything that doesn’t work with the scene. I think love scenes have to flow naturally from the plot and the characters. I avoid just plopping them in there for the sake of spicing up a story."

I asked her about the biggest public misconception about erotica.

"I can name several, but I can’t pick just one!" she protested. "Some of the biggest public misconceptions about erotica are: that the stories are mindless scenes of people having sex; that there’s no 'real' plot or characterization; and that they’re 'easy' to write. Other misconceptions are that the authors of erotic romances are basing the love scenes in the books on their own private lives, and that we ‘act out’ the love scenes in our books. Not true! The stories are fiction, not confessionals. And writing good romance is just as difficult and as labor-intensive as writing horror, sci fi, or mystery."

The amount of research she does depends on the story she's writing, she told me. For her historical/fantasy romances like A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord, The Pauper Prince, Dalton's Temptation, and A Midsummer Night's Delights, she did very little research because she was able to world-build and create the settings, backgrounds, costumes, etc.

On the other hand, for her paranormal romance Beauty and the Bigfoot she did a lot of research.

"I went to the library and took out several Bigfoot books. I also watched a few Bigfoot shows on TV. Because I was writing about a Bigfoot expert/fanatic, (Charlie), I had to know everything about Bigfoot that Charlie did (if not more)," she explained. "A lot of the tiny details in the story are authentic – based on the research I did and the actual reported Bigfoot sightings. Knowing these details made it easier to understand the characters and write the story."

Kelli told me that she doesn't like to write something she wouldn't want to read or that would turn her off, so there are a few subjects she wouldn't include in her stories: sexual acts involving bodily functions or grown people wearing diapers and pretending to be babies, among them. "Aside from that," she said, "I have no problem writing about characters taking on multiple partners and/or same sex partners, or even participating in naughty games – as long as it suits the characters and the story. My book, A Midsummer Night’s Delights came close to the erotic romance/porn boundary for me. There’s a chapter that gets pretty intense and the characters go wild having a sexual free-for-all."

"Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share my wisdom with your readers," she told me. "It’s always fun to answer questions and talk about my stories and the writing process. Everyone’s invited to visit my website to read other interviews, book excerpts, reviews, and more!"

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