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  • Writer's pictureKelli A. Wilkins

Chatting About New Releases and More with Author Kelli A. Wilkins

Today we’re chatting with Kelli A. Wilkins. She answers a few fun questions and shares a look at her latest mystery/thriller, The Route 9 Killer.

Tell us about your latest release, The Route 9 Killer. How did that come about? Years ago I had an idea for a serial killer/thriller story that was sparked by something simple: I was driving somewhere and saw a woman’s shoe lying in the road.

I started wondering about the shoe. What if a woman was abducted and the only evidence left behind was her shoe in the road? I bounced this idea off of a few people and they scoffed; but when I explained my story idea, they were intrigued.

As the title implies, the book is a mystery/thriller involving a serial killer. The hero, Detective Jim Rourke, thinks he’s discovered a serial killer operating in Central New Jersey. The only problem is, nobody believes him. The women are abducted from different towns in the same county, and their bodies are dumped in different towns in another county. This makes it hard for the police to connect the crimes or even see a pattern. To them, the killings are random.

Detective Rourke is also investigating the disappearance of a woman named Allison Kendrick. When the book opens, her boyfriend is at the police station, reporting her missing. Are the two cases related? Rourke thinks they might be.

Without giving away any plot details or spoilers, I can say that the main characters come together in the end, and the story packs a great twist ending. (If you’ve read the book, please don’t give away the ending!)

You’re the rare author who writes across genres. Are you still writing romance and horror? What are you working on now? Yes, I’m still writing full-length romance novels and short horror fiction, but now I’ve added “mystery/thriller” to my genre list! I just finished writing the first draft of a historical/fantasy romantic adventure. It’s an epic tale in three parts. I hope it will be out sometime in 2024.

I have an outline for another mystery/thriller featuring Detective Rourke from The Route 9 Killer, and I’m working on new horror stories. Readers can visit my social media pages and blog for the latest updates.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? Titles are tricky! Sometimes I’ll know the title before I start writing the story. That happened with several romances: Four Days with Jack, Beauty & the Bigfoot, Trust with Hearts, and Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover. Usually I’ll have a few ideas for a title, based on the characters, the setting, or theme, then I take a survey of my writing friends and family to see which one they like best. My husband has come up with a few great titles.

How important are the character names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Character names are very important to me. Sometimes the characters cooperate with me and tell me their names when I get the idea for the story, but sometimes I have to hunt them down and try to figure out who they are.

I choose names primarily based on the sound and how well the name matches the character’s personality traits. For some reason, many of my romance heroines have strong female names that end in “A” (Elara, Anya, and Odaria). Before I write, I try to match the hero’s name to his personality. Sam (from Lies, Love & Redemption) is easy-going, so his name is “softer.” While Rothgar (from The Viking’s Witch) is a strong warrior.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Fortunately, I don’t get writer’s block. I have folders filled with ideas for short stories and novels, but I don’t have time to write them all. Usually after I finish a book, I’ll take a break from writing for a while and let my mind relax and catch up on my reading. Then, when I’m ready to write something new, I’ll read through my ideas folder and see what inspires me. But sometimes the next story in line jumps into my head and I’m off writing something new the next day!

What authors have inspired you? I’ve been inspired by many authors throughout the years and probably every book I’ve read has influenced me in some way. I started out reading Stephen King short stories and novels, so I got a feel for good storytelling and world-building at a young age.

Lately I’ve been reading John Sandford and the Preston & Child novels. When I’m reading for fun, I read anything and everything that isn’t in the romance genre. I enjoy a good detective/mystery story, and these authors have created some fantastic and memorable characters.

If you had a superpower, what would it be? I’d like to be able to teleport from one place to another in the blink of an eye. Just think about where I’d like to be, snap my fingers, and then I’d be there. It would make traveling a lot easier and faster!

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? I want to visit Easter Island. I love the moai and collect them, so I’d love to see the actual statues in person. I’d also like to go to Romania and spend some time at Bran Castle.

Anything else you’d like to share? Yes, I welcome questions and comments from readers, so feel free to drop me a line. Let me know which of my books is your favorite, and which characters you love best. I invite everyone to visit me on social media for book updates and more.

Here’s the summary and links to The Route 9 Killer:

The Route 9 Killer

(A Mystery/Thriller)

Detective Jim Rourke suspects a serial killer is hunting women in Central New Jersey. The victims are held captive, brutalized, then murdered and dumped along deserted stretches of Route 9.

There’s no physical evidence, no witnesses, and the killer is smart enough to leave no clues.

Rourke is alone on a manhunt, and time is running out. Eight victims have already fallen prey to this madman.

Can Rourke catch the killer and rescue the next victim before it’s too late?

Order your copy here:

All other platforms:

If you’ve read the book and loved it, please post a positive review online (no spoilers, please!).

Happy Reading,

Kelli A. Wilkins


Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20+ romance novels, and 6 mystery/horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror and mystery stories.

Her latest release, The Route 9 Killer, was published in May 2023. This mystery/thriller is set in Central NJ.

Kelli’s paranormal/mystery romance, In Another World, was released in 2022. She released two horror shorts, More Than I Bargained For and Silent Sentinel in 2021.

Follow Kelli on her Facebook author page: and visit her website/blog for a full title list and social media links.

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