I'm so happy to have Kellie VanHorn visit my blog today! HUNTED IN THE WILDERNESS releases Tuesday, June 28th, and she's here to talk about her newest book and to answer some questions about her journey to becoming an author.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kellie VanHorn is an award-winning author of inspirational romance and romantic suspense. She has college degrees in biology and nautical archaeology, but she’s always found her sense of adventure most satisfied by a great story. When not writing, Kellie can be found teaching her four children, camping, baking, and gardening. She lives with her family in west Michigan.
A member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers, Kellie is a 2022 and double 2020 HOLT Medallion finalist, 2019 Golden Heart® finalist, 2018 Daphne du Maurier award winner (unpublished), and double 2018 Genesis semi-finalist.
Welcome, Kellie! Thank you for being here today.
What inspired you to start writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
As a kid, I was constantly reading – Nancy Drew, The Chronicles of Narnia, My Side of the Mountain, toothpaste labels – pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I also wrote my own short stories and poems (bad ones, lol), but I never considered the idea of writing a novel until years later when I was in graduate school. Of course, who has time to write a novel when they’re supposed to be writing a master’s thesis? Then my kids were born, and even though I started playing around with writing, I didn’t decide to get serious about an author career until 2014 when a short story I wrote was chosen as a finalist in a local contest.
What’s your favorite thing about writing romantic suspense?
Romantic suspense is so fun to write because of the mix of adventure and romance. I love writing intense emotional scenes between my characters that deepen their relationship, but then a few pages later if I need to interrupt a kiss or the plot starts to drag, I can send in a bad guy with a gun.
Where do you find your ideas?
I draw much of my inspiration from real life, including news headlines, enneagram types (for characters), and places I’ve visited. Most of my books start out as a glimpse of single scene in a specific setting – the setting is always key for me – and I go from there figuring out who these characters are and how they ended up in this situation. For example, HUNTED IN THE WILDERNESS first came to me as an image of a woman crashing her plane in the Cascades. I knew a park ranger (single and handsome, of course), would help her, but I had to go from there to figure out the rest.
What was the publishing journey like for you? How long did it take to get published?
As I mentioned a little bit earlier, I played around with writing for a long time before deciding to pursue publication. From the seed of an idea to completion of my first (awful) draft took about eight years. Then I took a break for several years as I raised three littles, and once I picked the manuscript back up, I spent another three years revising and submitting before I received an offer from Love Inspired Suspense. That book became FATAL FLASHBACK, my debut. Seventeen years passed from first idea to holding my book in my hand!
How much do you write each day? Do you have any specific routines you follow, or a favorite place to work?
I approach writing as a part-time career, so I make time for it most days of the week. Although, with four kids (one who is in pre-school), most of my work sessions are in short bursts throughout the day. When I’m working on a new book, I aim to get 500 to 1000 words a day. I also spend time on marketing, writing blog posts and newsletters, and volunteering with writers groups.
My desk is my favorite place to work, and I have a laptop that my kids know is strictly off limits. (No touching Mom’s laptop! 😉) Just sitting down with my cup of hot tea, my pretty desk lamp, and a little chocolate tells my brain it’s time to work.
Kellie, I'm reading this book and it's an exciting read!
ABOUT THE BOOK
Protecting the evidence means facing down assassins and an unforgiving wilderness…
Framed for murder and corporate espionage, future aerotech company CEO Haley Whitcombe flees in her plane with a camera full of evidence that could clear her name—until she’s shot out of the sky. Now trapped in North Cascades National Park, her survival in the wilderness depends on park ranger Ezra Dalton. Yet escaping the wild will mean nothing if they can’t outrun their merciless hunters…
So, Kellie, what was your favorite part about writing HUNTED IN THE WILDERNESS? The hardest part?
My favorite part easily was writing Ezra and Haley. On the surface, they’re such opposites, and I love the dynamic of how they play off each other as they slowly begin to find common ground.
The hardest part was definitely the research. For this book, I chose a setting I haven’t visited in person. I’ve been to Seattle and Mt. Rainier, but never to North Cascades National Park, so I had to do a lot of research on the park and talk to someone who has been there to get more details about what it’s like. Of course, now it’s on my wish list for places to visit!
Which character was your favorite to write? Why?
Oh, that’s a tough question because I love both Ezra and Haley so much. If I had to pick, I’d probably go with Ezra. He’s tough, smart, and confident, but also sweet and sensitive, and working so hard to ignore a gaping wound he really needs to deal with. So glad Haley and I could help him out with that! 😉
Why did you decide to set the story in the Cascades?
Setting often drives the inspiration for a story for me, and one day as I was scrolling through a social media feed, I came across a gorgeous picture of a brilliant blue glacial lake in front of some jagged, gray peaks. Of course, right away I knew a story had to happen there, and within minutes Haley’s plane was crashing into those mountains in my imagination.
How did you do the research for this book?
Because I hadn’t been to this national park before, I ordered a topographic map online to get an idea of the terrain and layout of the trails. I also spent a lot of time studying the climate, plant and animal life, and pictures of the landscape. My family loves camping, but we’re the type who show up with an overflowing mini-van, a tent, and a huge cooler – definitely not backpackers. But between some trips to REI and talking to other, braver people who do backpack, I got a pretty good feel for the gear and the survival experience.
What do you hope readers take away from the story?
Ultimately, I always hope readers take away a glimpse of God’s great love for us. In this story, both Ezra and Haley are dealing with difficult circumstances in their lives and wrestling with the question of why bad things happen. Haley thinks she’s failed, and that she has to try harder if she wants to earn God’s favor. Ezra wonders if he can really trust God, or if he has to look out for himself. Through their experiences in the book, they come face-to-face with the truth that God’s grace is a free gift, and that knowing Him is the greatest gift of all.
HUNTED IN THE WILDERNESS releases Tuesday, June 28, 2022!
Fatal Flashback was a really great read so cannot wait to read this!ReplyDelete
Great interview! Kellie gets an amazing number of books written for a part-time career and a houseful of kids. I'm gobsmacked.ReplyDelete