Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today: April Kelley writes LGBTQ+ Romance. Her works include The Journey of Jimini Renn, a Rainbow Awards finalist, Whispers of Home, the Saint Lakes series, and over thirty more. Since writing her first story at ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing, you can find her taking a long walk in the woods or going on her next adventure.
Thanks so much, April, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
April Kelley: I’ve always had the writing bug. I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. I remember I told my sisters a tale about a guy in a haunted house that comes to save the day. I was probably around five years old and inspired by Happy Days reruns. The first story I wrote was a handwritten, five-page little gem about two friends in a haunted house (I had a thing for ghosts as a youngster lol). It was an assignment for school. I believe my mom still has it stuffed away in a box somewhere. For my eleventh birthday, my grandparents bought me a word processor, which had been the latest and greatest thing at the time. (yep, I’m that many years old lol). My family always encouraged my writing endeavors.
I’ve always known I’ve had stories waiting to get out, but in terms of the actual craft of writing, that’s definitely a lifelong learning process.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
AK: I write series set in small towns. In particular, contemporary and paranormal MM romance.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
AK: My first published work is a book called Whispers of Home. It’s about a single dad who needs to start over. Sometimes starting over means going back to where it all began. For him, that’s a small town called Pickleville. All he really wants is a better life for his son. What he doesn’t expect to find is love. Whispers of Home was supposed to be a single title, but the town had a lot more to it. It’s the first book in a nine book series called Pickleville.
JSC: What do you do when you get writer’s block?
AK: Writer’s block is tricky for every writer. I don’t know one strategy that works over another, but what works for me is meditation, staying mindful, exercising, and continuing to write.
I meditate every morning for about ten minutes. Most of the time, it’s guided. But when I’m blocked, I’ll either go a little longer or meditate twice a day, depending on the day.
To stay mindful and regular exercise go hand-in-hand for me, I’ll go on walks. I live in a rural area so it’s quiet and my neighbors have created walking trails through the forests near my property. I’m able to put myself in nature quite a lot. If the season isn’t right, I’ll get on the treadmill at least once a day.
And I don’t stop writing. I might slow down. My daily word count is a lot lower when I’m blocked, but I keep going.
JSC: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
AK: A character almost always springs to life first. It usually happens when I’m writing another story. Because I write series, I’ll have a secondary character that just pops into the world who needs a story. That was the case with Taylor Kramer in The Human Pyke. Taylor popped up in Reverberation, book 9 in the Saint Lakes series. He was part of the special ops team who kidnapped Echo. It turned out he was a medic and not such a bad guy. By the end of the book, I found myself wanting to know more about him.
JSC: How did you choose the topic for The Human Pyke?
AK: I love a good enemies-to-lovers stories. Taylor’s fear of shifters and vampires is very real for him. But he also has to rely on them for his safety. It’s an intriguing contrast that I wanted to explore.
JSC: What was the hardest part of writing The Human Pyke?
AK: The Human Pyke is the eleventh book in the Saint Lakes series. Saint Lakes is coming to an end. This story is probably one of the most important books plot-wise because the bad guy needed to stir the pot in a pretty big way and keep stirring it during the books that follow. A romance always has an HEA which means Taylor and Marshall have to win the day. The bad guy has to get what’s coming to him. But he also can’t entirely lose. The ending wasn’t quite clear until I actually wrote it and I don’t normal pants my stories that much.
JSC: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about them.
AK: This is easy to answer. Spider Sylvain. He’s a terrible guy. He’s done a lot of criminal things and, by doing so, has created a sinister empire for himself. But he had a solid reason for going the route he did. His motivation was all about survival and self-preservation. He will have his own story. I’m just not sure when or how yet. But when I know, I’ll let you all know via my website and in my Facebook group.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
AK: Taylor is my favorite by far. I love how empathetic and compassionate he is, even for people who he fears. He’s probably the most courageous person I’ve ever written about.
JSC: What are you working on now, and what’s coming out next? Tell us about it!
AK: I’m currently working on the next book in the Saint Lakes Series. It will continue the series plot. We’ll finally know how Wesley is fairing with Sully, his wolf shifter mate–not that he wants a shifter for a mate. He’s currently hiding from the bad guy, so he’s stuck in a cabin in the middle of a forest. No electricity or running water. He’s never been into roughing it and doesn’t like it much. But what’s worse is Sully bringing him what looks like roadkill while in wolf form. But his life’s about to get a lot rougher.
The book comes out in October 2023: https://books2read.com/u/4AAAWJ
And now for April’s new book: The Human Pyke:
A human soldier must turn to the enemy if he wants to live. He doesn’t expect to find his fated mate among them.
Taylor Kramer is out of choices. If he wants to survive, he has to rely on the very people he had once hunted. The paranormals. The government wants him dead and the paranormals scare him. The last thing he needs is a mate who shifts into a cougar.
Marshall Pyke isn’t looking for love. He comes back to his hometown because his family and clan are in deep trouble. Saint Lakes is in the center of a war with a man bent on destroying every paranormal in existence. When the new farmhand turns out to be his fated mate, sparks fly. Too bad he’s also the enemy.
When Taylor’s asked to work for the paranormal council, he knows he has a lot to prove, especially to Marshall. If Marshall wants to protect his mate, he’ll have to break a few rules.
The Human Pyke is the romantic eleventh book in the MM Paranormal Romance series Saint Lakes. If you like men with hearts of gold and hard-nosed cat shifter cops, then you’ll love this enemies-to-lovers novel.
Buy The Human Pyke and see just how sensual a cougar shifter can be.
Marshall realized all at once that he hadn’t even introduced himself. He didn’t even know his mate’s name. He stopped sniffing him long enough to meet his gaze. His mate had light brown eyes that looked almost amber with the sun on his face.
“You’re purring.” His mate had a southern accent that reminded Marshall of music. He had little dimples at the corners of his mouth when he smiled.
“I’m a cougar shifter.” Marshall didn’t think he needed any more of an explanation. A lot of cats and cat shifters purred. Even humans who didn’t know about shifters still knew about the various species of felines. Admittedly, not all cats could purr, but a fair number had the ability.
“I suppose that fits your aesthetic.” He grinned. “I’m human. You probably already know that.”
Marshall smiled. “I’m Marshall Pyke. I’d love to know your name.”
His mate chuckled. “You’re a charmer. I’m not sure my pants are safe around you.”
That made Marshall laugh. “Good call.”