Kit Wilkinson will never forget the events of 2008. She finaled in the Romance Writers of America® inspirational category of the Golden Heart®, won, and went on to sell her winning entry, Running from Trouble. Along the way, though, she took an unexpected detour.
In this interview you’ll learn about Kit’s writing and her debut novel, now titled Protector’s Honor, due to release in September 2009. But there’s more to Kit than creativity and class. She speaks fluent French and used to surf. No. Not, the Internet. Waves. And hard as it is to believe when you see the photo of this beautiful blond, she never went to a dance during high school.
I’m excited to have Kit as my guest. Her interview was originally planned for August 2008, but as you’ll see, our plans are not always those God has for us. But she’s here today, and I invite you to learn more about this elegant, talented, strong woman of God.
And after you’ve read what Kit has to say, we invite you to visit her blog, Kit Wilkinson . com/BLOG, where she’s sharing the behind-the-scenes story about how Running from Trouble became known as Protector’s Honor. If you’ve ever wondered how and why titles are changed, Kit will answer some of those questions.
And if you’ve come here from the link on Kit’s blog, welcome. It’s nice to have you.
Kit and I are teaming up to offer you a Double Drawing Deal. All those who comment on both blogs have two chances of winning a $1o gift card of their choosing. Details below.
•The past year has been an incredible one for you, Kit. But before we look at all that took place, I’d like to find out about the early days of your writing journey. What led you to write romance? When did you draft your first story? How many manuscripts have you completed, and of those, which one sold?
Keli, you’re not kidding. The year 2008 was a crazy roller coaster ride. And well, it still feels like the early days of writing. The truth is, I’ve only been at it three years. I started my first story in January 2006. It was supposed to be Young Adult, but mostly it was a confused mess. When I finished it that April, that story was 120,000 words! Ha. Guess I got a little carried away.
I entered that manuscript in a contest, and it came in dead last. Like I said, it was a mess. Funny thing though, it didn’t discourage me in the least. I kept writing, and more importantly, I kept reading. And I started reading more romance, since in a nutshell, that’s what I had written.
I read all genres of romance. I wanted to know what was selling. How authors were setting up their plots, hooks, and developing their characters. I wanted to know how to weave suspense and romance and faith and fantasy. To date, I’ve completed four manuscripts. It was the third of those that sold, my first inspirational.
•On March 25, 2008 you learned you were a Golden Heart finalist in the inspirational category. And then you won! When Carla Capshaw, the 2007 inspirational winner, called your name at the Awards Ceremony at RWA® Nationals, what went through your mind? Were you as composed as you appeared on the stage, or did your knees shake as you stood under the bright lights?
I think I frowned when Carla called the name of my manuscript because it was so unexpected. But my husband jumped up. He was so excited for me. I think that gave me the courage to walk up there. On the way, I sort of kicked myself because I hadn’t prepared anything. Thankfully, I didn’t start shaking until after I sat down, which was good since I had on some serious heels.
•Life can be full of surprises. Five days after you’d won the Golden Heart, you began a battle with Guillain Barre Syndrome. You said on your blog, well before the emotional roller coaster ride began, “I’m okay if there’s another turn in my road. And I won’t regret the bumps and curves it takes me to get there.” Could you briefly tell us about your experience with GBS? What’s the most important lesson you learned after all you’ve been through?
GBS is a disease where your autoimmune system, for some unknown reason, attacks your nervous system, literally eating away your nerves. There’s no cure, but if it doesn’t kill you (and it usually doesn’t), then it reverses itself and most of the damage repairs.
I suffered temporary but total paralysis and was in the hospital almost 40 days. I’m not going to lie to you. It sucked. I missed not being able to move, talk and go where I wanted to go. I was so dependent on others—to eat, go to the bathroom, turn over. You name it. I couldn’t do it alone.
I’m a very independent person, so relying on others was hard for me. Not to mention the pain of seeing those who care about you worry and fret, and knowing you’re the cause of their stress.
But I learned that it’s okay to ask for help, prayer, and love. It’s humbling, but it’s okay. Sometimes you have to do everything by yourself. Other times, you can’t.
And having so many people praying for you—amazing! Prayer is a powerful thing. Love is a powerful thing.
•So often we hear that an agent can make a big difference in finding a home for our work. Before you headed to Nationals, you became a client of top-notch agent Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary. How did this come about? Did you send a query, get a referral from a friend or pitch to him at a conference? And, I have to ask, is Chip as fun in person as he comes across on his blog, Chip MacGregor .com?
Yeah, Chip is great. Really. As a person and as an agent. And he knows the business, which is good for me because I know nothing. I met Chip at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference last May. A writer friend told me to attend Chip’s workshops, so I did.
At some point during the week, I ended up pitching to him. It was all very impromptu. I didn’t have an appointment. What I did have was a full manuscript under consideration with Steeple Hill and several other agents showing interest.
So, yes, Chip decided to represent me, but I can say I picked his agency as well. And I’m glad I did. I think MacGregor Literary is one of the things very right in the publishing business.
•While you were in the hospital recovering from GBS, Chip was doing his job. Two months to the day after you experienced your first symptoms, he sold your Golden Heart winning manuscript to Steeple Hill for their Love Inspired Suspense line. After all you’d endured, the news must have meant so much to you. Where were you when you received The Call? How did you deal with the news? Had you recovered enough to do a happy dance?
I was at home recuperating when I got The Call. And this may sound strange, but because of all that had been going on with my health, I think the news may have impacted me less than if I had been merely waiting for it. At the time, it took all my strength to accomplish simple tasks, like walking and dressing. My concerns were reprioritized, so to speak.
But don’t get me wrong. I was very happy. And getting that first contract was the ultimate reassurance that I was on the right track.
•As writers, we all need to learn craft. Some, however, have a background that puts them ahead of the game. You have a Bachelor’s in English and taught the subject for a number of years. I’m sure this has given you a great handle on the technical elements of writing, but did your experience also prepare you for creating fiction? What aspects of writing a story have come the easiest to you? Which, if any, have been challenging?
Well, I’d like to think all that school taught me something. <g> But dissecting fiction and writing it are very different. There was a lot and still is plenty left for me to learn. One thing I’d like to write with more ease is character emotions. Probably, the thing I find easiest to create is dialogue and description.
•Please tell us about your debut novel, Protector’s Honor. How did you get the idea for the story? Did it flow from your fingertips with ease, or did your characters get ornery at times and slow your progress?
My husband is a dentist, so I thought I’d do a story with one—I figured the research would be easy (ha ha). What’s funny is that the antagonist is the dentist, not the hero (and no, no hidden message there—it’s just how it fit into the story).
The hero is an NCIS agent, investigating the murder of a Naval nanotech engineer. The heroine is the sister of his prime suspect. The two are in a race, not only to find her brother, but to recover a nano-device that, if lost, would threaten the security of our nation. The story was lots of fun to write. Once I got going I couldn’t stop.
•When you aren’t busy working on your next book, what do you like to do?
I use that time to hang out with family and friends, herd my kids out of trouble, cook, exercise, and shop.
•And now a question just for fun. You spent time at grad school in Lausanne and love anything Swiss. If a generous benefactor offered to send you and your family to Switzerland for three weeks, all expenses paid, where would you go? And would you go in summer so you could hike in the Alps, or in the winter to swoosh down the slopes?
Three weeks in Switzerland … you’re making me drool. I’d pick March I think, so I could ski, but the summers are fabulous so it’s almost a toss up.
Okay, first I’d stay in Lausanne. Have dinner at Café du Port in Rolle (perch and fries in a delicious butter sauce). Then I’d cruise along the lake road in a Ferrari and hang out at the Beaurivage. Later, I’d go clubbing at the Tresieme and wine tasting in the vineyards east of the city. I’d hit a few of the chateaux, including a private viewing of the castle at Vufflens. I’d shop on Rue de Bourg and have tea and fresh bread at my favorite patisserie. For the second half of the trip, I’d go to the mountains, probably Grimentz, where I’d take my husband (who’s a fabulous skier) heli-skiing. And I’d eat lots of fondue and raclette.
It’s been great having you as my guest, Kit. And now, in closing, is there a final comment you’d like to make or a question you’d like to ask?
It’s been my pleasure, Keli. And in closing, I’d like to ask others what’s the strangest thing they have uncovered about the publishing business. I mean, when I first started writing, I had no idea what all was involved with getting a novel published. Did you?
Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win!
Kit and I have teamed up to offer you a Double Drawing Deal, as you may have already seen over at Kit Wilkinson . com/BLOG. We’re giving away not one, but two gift cards. If you leave a comment on Kit’s post here at Romance Writers on the Journey AND on the one at her blog, you could win your choice of a $10 gift card from either Borders, Sees Candy or Starbucks. Books. Chocolate. Coffee. Nice, right?
We’ll hold the first drawing at midday and the other at the end of the day. Since Kit is enjoying a well-deserved day off with her family, I’ll conduct the drawings and post the results here. She’ll drop by to reply to your comments as often as she can.
Congratulations to Alleyne Dickens, winner of the first drawing, and to Pamela Tracey, winner of the second.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post on this blog between now and January 31, making sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) You may enter once per post.
On February 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of four covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling. Watch for pictures added on future posts.)