We had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Kelli Wilkins today for the Wrapped in White tour. After learning how her shorty story, Thursday Night Bingo” is based on a true story, I had to learn more!
When I heard about Wrapped in White I thought, “I have a ghost story that’s not doing anything, let’s give it a try!” Growing up, I read lots of horror anthologies and always dreamed of “one day” seeing my stories in them – and now I have. Most of my horror tales have been published in anthologies and I love being included in them. I think they’re a great way to reach readers and it’s always fun to read the other stories in the collection.
This story was a unique family betrayal story. I love how the dead continue to find new ways they have been wrongly killed. Can you tell us how you were inspired to write Thursday Night Bingo?
This story is based on a real incident. Several years ago, my great aunt was convinced that every night she saw a woman walk down the hallway and go into her linen closet. We didn’t think much of it (maybe she was dreaming…) but she was very insistent. Then she told us that her dog used to bark and scratch at the linen closet, like he was trying to get in there. That got me wondering… What if there really was a ghost (or spirit) wandering around? What if the dog saw something we couldn’t?
Many of my horror stories are based on a conversation, a detail, or something else that most people wouldn’t notice, and then I start to wonder, “What if…?” I put all these thoughts on the backburner for a while, then one day decided to write a story using her “ghostly encounter” for the premise.
I took liberties with a lot of the details, but kept the part about her being in a wheelchair, not taking crap from people, and nobody believing her. (But in real life, her son is nothing like the character in the story!) I let my imagination wander and got creative with how the ghost got there and what she wanted, but kept the son’s motive open-ended. The original title for this story was “The Ghost in the Green Dress.”
What is something about yourself that most of your readers don’t know?
Believe it or not, I write everything in longhand with paper and pen. I think it frees my mind to write whatever I want in a first (and very rough) draft. When I get an idea for a story, I write notes or make a mini-outline, then let the ideas for the characters and plot marinate in my head. When I have a rough idea of what the story is, I go back and start writing.
Of course, my notes/outlines are subject to change and if I get a great new idea, I’ll pursue it. After the first draft is complete, I type the story. At this stage I add more details and edit out parts I’m not crazy about, so by the time I have a typed version it’s almost like a second draft.
How do you spend your time when you aren’t writing?
I like to read, travel, go to creepy/haunted places, visit flea markets (they’re great for story ideas), and garden.
Do you have a specific music playlist you listen to while you’re writing? Do you find different types of music can help or hinder tapping into a specific mood?
I listen to everything from A to Z. Depending on my mood and what stage of a writing project I’m in, I might be listening to New Age instrumental one minute, Rob Zombie the next, and then Dwight Yoakam followed by disco. I have a very diverse music collection and am constantly switching up genres. When I’m writing or proofreading, I tend to listen to quieter music that doesn’t distract me, but if I’m typing up a story, I’ll listen to faster music to keep me moving.
I have discovered your non-fiction books on Amazon – I would have never known you were the author of Hermit Crabs for Dummies and an All About Cats book for Animal Planet. How would you say your non-fiction is different from your fiction? Do you pull in non-fiction elements?
I’ve always said, “I’m a writer, I can write anything.” And I pretty much have. My writings are very diverse. Basically, I was asked to write cat books and the hermit crab book, so I did. I’ve always loved animals and I was once the assistant editor of a reptile and amphibian hobbyist magazine.
In addition to my non-fiction and horror stories, I also write romance! I like to say that one half of my brain writes horror and the other half writes romance. I love switching between the two genres because I can explore different characters, plots, and settings in horror that I could never do in romance.
Once in a while, I combine the two into paranormal romances. Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover is an unusual vampire story written in first-person, and Beauty and the Bigfoot is a paranormal romance/comedy. In that novella, I really let my strange sense of humor loose on the world. I’m also outlining a third paranormal about a ghost.
In one of my romances, (Trust with Hearts) I had the heroine work at a cat rescue organization trying to get cats adopted and raise awareness for homeless shelter cats. That was the closest I’ve come to including any of my non-fiction subjects into a fiction piece.
Here a couple of silly questions to bring out the human side of your life –
a) If you could be a toy, what would you be and how would people play with you?
I’d like to be a kite, so I can fly around and look at things from high in the air. (If kite’s can see, that is.) Or maybe a doll – that way, if my owner was picked on or bothered, I could come to life and scare people! (Now you see why I write horror.)
Has anyone ever caught you singing alone in your car? What did you do?
Yes! Last summer I was busted singing along to “In a Big Country” and I just laughed and waved and kept singing. (I’m probably caught singing more than I realize, but I was having fun, so why not?)
What’s on deck for Kelli in 2014? Any new releases we can look forward to? Where can we find more?
I have two historical romances coming out in spring of 2014. Wilderness Bride will be published by Amber Quill Press on April 6, and Medallion Press is releasing Dangerous Indenture in May.
In the horror world, I recently submitted several stories to online publications and I’m waiting to hear back. I’m also writing new horror tales.
All the details about all my writings can be found on my site: www.KelliWilkins.com.
Finally, since we are all lovers of the horror genre – what is your deepest and worst fear? How do you cope with this fear or prepare to handle such a fear?
Aside from being traumatized when I watched The Exorcist at age nine, the only fear I have these days is wasps. Bees I can handle; they have a purpose and they don’t really want to sting you. Wasps can be vicious. I avoid them as much as I can, but if they bother me, I get the spray!
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. I hope everyone enjoys Wrapped in White. I invite readers to visit my website to learn more about my writings. I have separate sections for my romances and horror stories.
ABOUT KELLI A. WILKINS
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 90 short stories, seventeen romance novels, and four non-fiction books. Her speculative fiction has appeared in The Sun, Weird Tales, Dark Moon Digest, The First Line, and in several anthologies, including: Wrapped in White, Mistresses of the Macabre, Haunted, The Four Horsemen: An Anthology of Conquest, War, Famine & Death, Frightmares: A Fistful of Flash Fiction Horror, What If… and Dark Things II: Cat Crimes: Tales of Feline Mayhem and Murder, The Best of the First Line, and more.
Kelli publishes a blog (http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/) filled with excerpts, interviews, writing prompts, and whatever else pops into her head. She also writes a monthly newsletter, Kelli’s Quill. Kelli invites readers to visit her website, www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings.
Catch up with Kelli on the Web:
Amazon Author Page
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kelli.wilkins1Thank you for this opportunity to interview you and I truly enjoyed your story in Wrapped in White. Congratulations on the publication! 🙂 Thanks! It was fun to write & I love being included in anthologies!