AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: KENDRA ELLIOT
My debut Hidden came out in July from Montlake Romance and the follow-up Chilled was published in August.
Tell us a little about the idea behind Hidden?
I love to read romantic suspense, especially books with forensic elements. I enjoy feeling like I’m learning something as I read. I’ve been in the dental field for sixteen years and had a fascination with forensic odontology. I began to think about a character that identifies human remains by their teeth and Hidden was born.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
When I start, I have a great hook and opening scene. I usually know where the story will end but the road to getting there comes as I start writing.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I first wrote two horrible contemporary romances. I consider them to be my “learning” manuscripts. What I found was that my characters tripped over dead bodies a lot. It made sense; my favorite books were suspense and thrillers. I took the hint and stuck to romantic suspense.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I really like Alex, my hero in Chilled. He’s very damaged and believes he is doing the right thing by hunting a killer, but his eyes are opened by the heroine and he learns his soul isn’t worth the risk for revenge.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
The hero’s sister in Hidden, Melody. I thought I created a fun bitchy woman, but my editor gently informed me that she was extremely unlikeable. I softened her up and gave her a bit of heart, but she still takes no prisoners.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The whole butt-in-chair part. I will find a million other things to do when I should be writing. My floors get mopped. My laundry gets done. Books get read. Facebook gets updated and browsed and browsed.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
My husband moved 3000 miles across the United States to be with me. We’ve been married almost two years. He moved from the state he’d lived in all his life to give us a chance, because I wouldn’t move. It’s been fabulous.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
I can watch Chopped for hours. I really don’t cook and have the palate of a ten-year-old, but I love that show. I also love What Not to Wear and Project Runway.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
I need to know that no one will need me for the next two hours. I tell my kids that they need to leave me alone and warn my husband with the same.
Does music influence your writing? If so, do any of your stories have a theme song?
People who can listen to music as they write amaze me. I need silence. Although I’m pretty good at tuning out noise at Starbucks to write. I guess I should say I need silence when I’m writing at home.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
My agent called me at 6:30 in the morning. I’m west coast and she is east, so I don’t think she’d even looked at the time. I was on my way out the door to work. I remember looking at my phone, seeing it was her, and knowing she must have good news to be calling so early. It was fantastic news. We’d been expecting an offer from one house but another offer came first and I’m soooo glad I went with Montlake. First person I told was my husband and then my kids. I was distracted at work all day.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Hmmm. Does Laura Ingalls falling for her husband count as romance? I must have been nine or ten. I remember being very disappointed in how little they spoke to each other and how awkward she felt around him. I must have instinctively known there should be more to true love!
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Diana Gabaldon. Tami Hoag. Can I go fan girl over men? Lee Child. Robert Crais, Harlan Coben.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I was a dental hygienist for 16 years. I left my job in May to write full time and I’ve never been happier.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
I loved The Avengers. We actually saw it twice in the theater; I don’t think I’ve done that since Star Wars.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
2013 brings two more Bone Secrets Novels. Buried will be out in the spring and the fourth book six months after that. Buried is about Michael from Hidden and he will get his happy-ever-after. The fourth books will return to Lacey Campbell from Hidden.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
Oh, wow. Just thinking about working with any of the above names under the fan girl question makes me weak in the knees. An honor, but totally nerve-wracking.
How do you pick your characters names?
I often grab the closest magazine or newspaper and flip through it if I need a name in a jiffy. Main character names I put a little more thought into. Usually it’s one that I’ve heard before and liked or it stuck with me for some reason.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I’m a steady growth girl. I think there can be lust or attraction at first sight, but I don’t believe in love at first sight. I think that is simply too hard to make believable to the reader. Okay…my husband is putting in his two cents. “I knew I loved you at first sight,” he claims. When I said that was impossible, he replied, “Well, I knew I was going to love you.”
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I don’t consider this silly at all. Dove chocolate is the best chocolate. The silkiness can’t be beat. I take my chocolate very seriously. Right now I’m a bit addicted to dark chocolate with sea salt, which sounds disgusting, but it works! Sadly, it’s not made by Dove.