By Mary Leo
As a forensic nurse on a search and rescue team, Brynn Nealy braves a dangerous blizzard to find the survivors of a plane crash in the Cascade Mountains. Joining her is Alex Kinton, a former US marshal with self-destructive tendencies. Alex lies his way onto Brynn’s team to find the man who killed his brother—and then return the favor. But once the team members reach the plane’s wreckage, they discover everyone aboard has perished…except for the man Alex is hunting. Alex will do whatever it takes to track his target through the vast, snowy wilderness.
If you haven’t discovered Kendra Elliot yet, now is the time. Her first book in her Bone Secrets series, HIDDEN, has gleaned rave reviews and her second book, CHILLED, released in August, is sure to do the same. She has a knack for putting you on the edge of your seat, then keeping you there until you’ve read the very last sentence.
Kendra grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest and still lives there with her husband, three daughters, two cats and a Pomeranian. In the real world, (non-writing world) she’s a dental hygienist who is fascinated with forensics, refuses to eat anything green, and loves a strong Mai Tai on a beach on Kauai. Kendra’s manuscripts have finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart Awards, the Daphne Du Maurier, and the Linda Howard Award of Excellence.
What caused you to write the Bone Secrets series?
I’ve always enjoyed suspense novels that include an element of science and teach the reader a thing or two, so I try to include that component in my writing. I love forensics, anthropology, and police procedure. My novels aren’t so much a series as they are related novels, because I’ve found that I can’t leave a character behind. Secondary characters beg me for their own stories and I aim to please. They’re all stand alone novels.
What kind of research did you have to do for CHILLED?
I was inspired to write CHILLED after listening to a forensic nurse discuss her job for the medical examiner and her side work as a search and rescue volunteer. She was inspirational and a lot of fun. I interviewed her and pestered my brother, a pilot in Alaska, for all my plane information. I can’t count how many search and rescue books I bought and read.
How many more books have you planned for this series?
I’m nearly done with the third and am planning the fourth. Those two books will be out in 2013. The first three books each have a different main character and recurring secondary characters. My publisher asked me to write more about the main character, Lacey Campbell, from the first book, HIDDEN, for the fourth book. After that, I don’t have definite plans.
Romantic Times praises your characters as “so realistic they almost seem to walk right off the page.” I certainly agree, especially with Alex and Brynn, your hero and heroine. What’s your secret for writing such powerful characters?
Hmmm. No secret. I try to get in each character’s head and see through their eyes. I’m constantly asking myself if what I’m writing is true to how this character would speak and act. My editor is great about politely pointing out when I go off track.
Is there anything extra you’d like to share with us about CHILLED?
Something extra for CHILLED….I let my husband read the first draft of CHILLED and he hated the ending. He hated the way I got rid of the villain…and he was right. I ripped out the ending and completely rewrote it in a way that made a wonderful full-circle revenge-type black moment. Funny thing was my editor accidentally received the first version. She immediately emailed me, saying she didn’t like the end. My husband will never let me forget how smart he was.
How do you balance your day job, being a mom, wife, and your writing?
That is the hard part. I just sent my ten-year-old out of the room so I could focus on these questions. She was trying to use my computer and use my phone and be in my face all at once. That’s pretty common with her. I have three kids, and we’ve had to agree on some rules about Mommy’s Writing Time. Basically, I try to write in the mornings, leaving afternoons and evenings open. I left my job of sixteen years in May to write fulltime. The kids are thrilled to have me home more, and I don’t miss going to an office one bit!
When you do have some downtime, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I read. I’m always looking for something fabulous that makes me want to write a better book. My husband and I walk five miles a day. We both work from home and are glued to our laptops, so we make it a priority to get out of the house, get some exercise, and spend some time together. Oh, my gosh, I sound boring! I have three kids; I don’t have much downtime.
Can you give us a teaser for the third book in the series?
The working title for the third book is BURIED. The main character is Michael, who had a strong secondary role in the first book, HIDDEN.
Twenty years ago, Michael’s younger brother, Daniel, vanished with seven other students on a school field trip. Two years later, a single survivor, Chris Jacobs, walked out of the forest, emaciated, beaten, and claiming no memory of where he’d been or what happened to him. Today, all the other children’s graves have been discovered at an old dairy farm…but Michael’s brother isn’t among them. Is Chris hiding what really happened to Michael’s brother?
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Kendra Elliot has always been a voracious reader, cutting her teeth on classic female sleuths and heroines like Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Laura Ingalls before proceeding to devour the works of Stephen King, Diana Gabaldon, and Nora Roberts. She graduated with a degree in journalism but went on to become a licensed dental hygienist. Now a Golden Heart, Daphne du Maurier, and Linda Howard Award of Excellence finalist, Elliot shares her love of suspense in her second novel, CHILLED. She still lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three daughters.
For the latest on Kendra please visit her website.