Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kelli Wilkins Talks About Secondary Characters

This week we’re going to find out a little about author Kelli Wilkins. Kelli will be talking about secondary characters. She’ll also tell us a little about herself and her writing, and answer some fun questions.
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Look for her paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, coming in autumn of 2017.
Kelli released Trust with Hearts, a contemporary romance, in July 2017. Her third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, was released in June 2017. Kelli’s trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was published in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli's third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.
Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

Beverley: Are secondary characters important in a story?
Kelli: Absolutely! Almost every main character needs a secondary (or supporting) character to “play” off of, whether it’s a meddling nosy neighbor (remember Mrs. Kravitz from Bewitched?), a trusty sidekick (Batman’s Robin), or a friend (Hermione from Harry Potter).
Supporting characters help move a story along by giving out information, getting themselves or other characters into (or out of) sticky situations, showing up at the worst (or best) moment, or just by being a sympathetic friend.
Beverley: How many secondary characters should be in a story? Can you have too many?
Kelli: I’d say a full-length novel needs no more than three secondary characters. If you add too many characters, readers may get confused, or the plot could become bogged down. Supporting characters don’t have to be on every page of a book. They can stay in the background for parts of the novel and come and go as the story dictates. (If you’re writing a short story or a novella, you may only need one supporting character.)
Authors should watch out for secondary characters who try to take over a book. Sometimes they become “too big” to remain supporting players and could detract from the main characters in the story. If this happens, you have to scale them back a little. However, if you’ve created a fantastic secondary character who absolutely demands time on the page, save up some of his adventures and let him run free in his own story. I did! (More on that later.)
Beverley: Do secondary characters need to have or be involved in conflict? If yes - inner or outer conflicts, or both?
Kelli: Yes, to some degree. Although they don’t have to be directly involved in a main conflict, secondary characters need to have a reason for being in the story. Sometimes they are introduced to move a story along, influence the main characters, or to provide comic relief, but they have to do something.
Supporting characters usually help the main characters deal with their reach conflicts and reach their goals. Dave, in my contemporary romance, Trust with Hearts, acted as a sounding board for Sherrie and Curtis (and played matchmaker), while offering each of them crucial advice and support they needed.
However, well-meaning secondary characters can be introduced to cause conflict with the hero or heroine. Redfeather and Black Elk, in my historical, Loving a Wild Stranger, make trouble for Luther and Michelle. They don’t approve of Michelle and try to convince Luther to send her away. Their arrival adds another layer of conflict (both inner and outer) for everyone that needs to be resolved. Readers get to see how Luther handles overcoming latest difficulty as the novel progresses.
Beverley: How detailed do you need to make your secondary characters?
Kelli: They need to be as “real” as any other character, but on a smaller scale. Each one should have a backstory, a history with the main character(s), a physical description, and a solid personality. (Preferably one that stands out or contrasts with the protagonist.)
Don’t just drop a character into a story and call him the “quirky” neighbor—flesh him out and let him come alive. Make sure the reader knows why he’s important to the story, even if he only has a small role.
Beverley: How do you use secondary characters in your books?
Kelli: One fun way I use supporting characters in a book is to have them misbehave, be socially inappropriate, and shake up the story in ways the well-mannered main characters can’t. For example, in A Most Intriguing Temptation, Prince Allan was introduced as a hedonistic, selfish secondary character. He caused all sorts of trouble, and yet he served a very important role in the story.
I also use them to add humor, play matchmaker, give out bits of crucial information, raise the stakes for the main characters, and enhance the storyline. In Ultimate Night’s Delights I used the secondary characters of Lono and Lobo to add a subplot to the story.
Beverley: Do you have any favorite secondary characters – yours or other?
Kelli: Yes! One of my favorite secondary characters is Everett, from my contemporary romance, A Deceptive Match. He’s a smartass and Vin’s (the hero’s) best friend. He offers advice to Vin and Danni throughout the story, provides comedic relief at times, and helps to patch things up between them when things get rough. Everett is one of those pesky secondary characters who try to take over the story. When I was writing A Deceptive Match, I knew Ev needed his own book, so I wrote A Secret Match to tell his story.
I did the same for Prince Allan from A Most Intriguing Temptation. He was too charismatic to be relegated to supporting character status, so he also got his own book, A Most Unfortunate Prince. Another of my favorite secondary characters is Alex from A Most Unfortunate Prince. He’s a minor character in the book, and yet he has a large, lasting impact on Allan’s lifeand the story.
Beverley: Any last comments on secondary characters?
Kelli: Sometimes this is a hard process. When characters introduce themselves to me I usually learn about them and their problem or situation before I’ll get a name. Usually, I’ll get a first initial or a first name only, and then have to discover more about the character before I get his or her whole name and backstory. Lies, Love & Redemption is one example. Before I wrote a word, I had the whole opening sequence in my head. I knew Sam and Cassie’s first names, and a bit about their backgrounds, but that was it. Sometimes my characters are a mystery to me until I get to know them better—even though I’m the one creating them!Yes. Here’s a quick test to see if your supporting characters are doing their jobs. Answer these questions for each secondary character in your book: What is his or her role in the novel? Why is he or she important to the plot? If you removed him or her, would the story still make sense? If the character isn’t there for a good reason, either create one, or see if your story works just as well without that character.
Beverley: How do you select the names of your characters?
Kelli: Sometimes this is a hard process. When characters introduce themselves to me I usually learn about them and their problem or situation before I’ll get a name. Usually, I’ll get a first initial or a first name only, and then have to discover more about the character before I get his or her whole name and backstory. Lies, Love & Redemption is one example. Before I wrote a word, I had the whole opening sequence in my head. I my characters knew Sam and Cassie’s first names, and a bit about their backgrounds, but that was it. Sometimes are a mystery to me until I get to know them better—even though I’m the one creating them!
Beverley: What kind of research do you do for your books?
Kelli: That depends on what I’m writing. For my historical romances, (such as Lies, Love & Redemption, Loving a Wild Stranger, and The Viking’s Witch) I did a lot of research about different time periods, history, what life was like back then, etc. For my contemporary romances, I might research a fact that a character needs to know that I don’t—but for the most part, they don’t require too much research.
Beverley: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/a storyteller?
Kelli: Growing up, I read every book I could get my hands on, and eventually I started writing short stories. I took creative writing classes in high school and college, but I didn’t try to get anything published until I took a commercial writing course. I got a lot of great feedback from the instructors and other students and began submitting my stories.
I started writing because characters, plots, settings, and story ideas kept popping into my head. One way for me to deal with them was to write the story (or idea) down. I’m still inspired by ideas that come to me from out of nowhere, the Universe, muses, or by something I see or hear at random.
I’ve always been interested in writing, but my professional writing career
Beverley: What do you read? Who are your favorite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
Kelli: I read everything, so in a sense every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way. Growing up, I read a lot of Stephen King, and I’m a big fan of The Twilight Zone, so I was introduced to the world of speculative fiction and great storytelling at a young age.
Right now, my two “go-to” authors are Stephen King and John Sandford. I read in different genres (mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, non-fiction, horror), and my books-to-read shelf is overflowing.
Beverley: What are you working on now?
Kelli: I’m very busy these days! My contemporary romance novel, Trust with Hearts was released in July. The hero is a sexy cowboy-like country music singer who gets involved with a young woman trying to put her life together after a bad break-up.

Blurb for Trust With Hearts:
After a bitter breakup, Sherrie Parker seeks refuge at her cousin Dave’s house in rural West Virginia. Early one morning, she runs into Dave’s other houseguest, a singer named Curtis Taylor. The last thing Sherrie wants is to share living quarters with a country music crooner – even if he is sexy, in a cowboy sort of way.

Thrown together by circumstances, Sherrie and Curtis get off to a rocky start, but soon discover they have more in common than they ever imagined. Unable to fight their growing attraction, they give in to their desires and start a sizzling summer romance.
Everything is perfect between them until Sherrie discovers that Curtis is keeping secrets from her – and his biggest secret of all will change everything. Can their newfound love survive, or will destiny keep them apart forever?

Blurb for Beauty & the Bigfoot

Can true love exist between the species?

Tara’s world is anything but normal. Her father is known as the resident crackpot – just because he’s on a personal mission to catch a Sasquatch. Despite all of the “Bigfoot evidence” cluttering their house, Tara never really believed in Bigfoot… until the day her father brought him home.

She affectionately names her father’s prized catch “Joe” and discovers there’s something oddly familiar – and erotic – about him. With a media circus descending on her father’s ranch and a showdown brewing with the local sheriff, Tara risks her life to save Joe.

When Tara finally succumbs to her animalistic urges, she learns that Joe is not exactly who – or what – he seems. Joe is more than a Sasquatch… he’s her soul mate!

Buy Link for Trust With Heart

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You can find Kelli at:
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Don’t forget to check back next week for another author interview.

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