Friday, July 5, 2024

Q&A with Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh




Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh are the authors of the new novel Echo Road. Elliot's books include the Mercy Kilpatrick series and Leigh's books include the Bree Taggert series. They previously have collaborated on two series of novellas, and they are both based near Orlando, Florida.


Q: What inspired you to write Echo Road, and why did you decide to collaborate on this novel?


A: We had previously written 20 novellas together, the Rogue River series and the Widow’s Island series. We alternated writing the novellas; that way one of us could write a novella when we had a break in our own publishing schedule. We learned we worked well together.


We’d often talked about writing a novel. We’d thought it’d be fun to have [our characters] Mercy and Bree on a case, but they worked on different coasts and we couldn’t figure out how to realistically bring them together.


In 2019 we attended a conference and learned of a case involving law enforcement working together from states that were 2,000 miles apart. We looked at each other and knew we’d found a way to bring our characters together.


We discussed the plot for a few years, hoping to find a few months between our own book deadlines where we’d have time to work together. Life also got in the way. Finally we found an opportunity last summer. We worked hard, and wrote it in seven weeks.

Q: How would you describe the relationship between your characters Bree Taggert and Mercy Kilpatrick?


A: Very cautious and skeptical. These are two independent women who are very good at their jobs, and they’ve been thrust together as strangers, and neither wants to trust or rely on the other woman. But as they work the murder case, they slowly grow to admire each other.


Our agents and editor loved the arc of their relationship. It’s as much of a story about friendship as it is about murder.


Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and, if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: Between us we’ve written more than 70 (!!) murder stories. We feel like we’ve seen it all and are rarely surprised. In this story we researched the world of S&M and the dangers of connecting online with strangers.


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


A: We hope they learn that we write an exciting and satisfying story. And that they want to check out the characters’ individual series.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Kendra is writing the first book in a new series, and Melinda is working on book ten of her Bree Taggert series. We have ideas for more cowriting projects but aren’t sure when we’ll have a break at the same time to work on one.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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