Thursday, July 6, 2023

Q&A with Kelle Z. Riley



Kelle Z. Riley is the author of the new novel Counterfeit Commoner, the latest in her Riches & Royals series. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 


Q: What inspired you to write Counterfeit Commoner, and how did you create your character Sophia?


 A: The inspiration for this book came from my love of classic movies, especially those that involve characters switching places. For classic movie fans, Sophia’s story has elements from Roman Holiday and It Happened One Night, which were some of the earliest romantic movies I watched as a kid. Of course, I had to freshen and modernize the plots!


Sophia had been a secondary character in all of the books set in Melesia and, frankly, in previous books she came off as a bit of a royal pain (to be nice). I wanted to redeem her and peel back the layers to find the heroine underneath.


Stories that take former villains and transform them are some of my favorite literary stories. Think Wicked, Maleficent, lots of the segments from Once Upon A Time, etc. Redeeming characters is a special kind of fun for me as a writer.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: Great question! I always know the novels are going to end with a "happily-ever-after" element, but I confess writing the ending is one of the most difficult parts for me. I didn't know how I was going to get the characters back together after their breakup so there was a lot of work and brainstorming for me to do.


But once I realized that Sophia's "family" would gather around her and form a protective shield between her and Mike, it came alive. The scenes where King Constantine stood up for her were some of my favorites, because it brought them full circle, so to speak, in terms of their past relationships. I love the lengths he went to make Mike prove himself!


Q: How was the novel’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: Titles are fun for me. I often start brainstorming a work based on a title only.


In this case, however, I wanted the title to tie into the rest of the series. Since Counterfeit Commoner and Reluctantly Royal take place during the same time frame, with pivotal scenes that are common to both books, I liked the idea of using alliterative titles for each. And I hope that the titles give my readers a hint of what might come in the story!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I'd love to have readers close the book and feel satisfaction. My goal is always to take readers away from their real lives--with worries and pressures--and give them a break. Everyone needs to escape to a world where the world works as it should--love triumphs, people work together to overcome problems, the main characters find that special person who sees them as they are (or wish to be)--that sort of thing.


Reading a romance novel lets the reader enjoy the ups and downs, twists and turns, and uncertainties of developing relationships and sometimes scary plot elements--all while knowing everything works out in the end. Isn't that the kind of adventure we all deserve?


Q: What are you working on now?


A: One thing you may not know is that in addition to romance novels, I also write a popular mystery series. So I have two projects in the works now. (One for each series.)


The next story in the Riches & Royals series features Apollo Mikolas and the woman who will upset his ordered world. Of course, he'll rock her world as well. Like Sophia in Counterfeit Commoner, he'll be stepping away from the world of Royal Melesia when he goes on a sabbatical in the United States. Unlike her, he won't be hiding his identity, although that decision will bring its own set of troubles!


On the mystery side (where I get the enjoyable catharsis of killing characters based on people who annoy me in real life) I'll be working on book 5 of the Undercover Cat series. Readers of that series may enjoy the revelations about characters they thought they knew!


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: If I could take the time to brag, just a bit, I'd like to announce that Counterfeit Commoner propelled me to become an Amazon Bestselling Author! (And on my birthday, no less! How cool is that?) It's also ridiculously exciting for me to know that you can purchase books from the Riches & Royals series at the Target and Walmart websites. Gee, I feel like a "real" author.


Practically speaking you should know the best place to keep up with my work is at my website:


I am in the process of changing newsletter servers, so while I encourage everyone to sign up for my newsletter, forgive me if there are hiccups! I try to send out newsletters when there are new releases or really interesting developments, but, like everyone, I hate junk mail, so I try not to overwhelm subscribers. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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