Today’s All The Kissing Author Spotlight features Kelly Siskind, author of the Over the Top and One Wild Wish series. New Orleans Rush—available now—is a bubbly read that follows Beatrice Baker as she’s forced to work as an on-stage magician’s assistant to pay off a debt, only to fall for her surly boss, whose penchant for gambling is the last thing she needs in her life. Full of magic, humor, and sensual chemistry, New Orleans Rush will leave your heart light and a smile on your face.
Introducing Kelly Siskind
A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to enjoy the charm of northern Ontario. When she’s not out hiking with her husband or home devouring books, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. Her novels have been published internationally.
Welcome, Kelly! First let me just fangirl for a minute—My Perfect Mistake has one of the best openings of all time. I laughed out loud. But the meet cute in New Orleans Rush definitely gives it a run for its money…can you tell us where the idea came from?
So glad you loved My Perfect Mistake! As for New Orleans Rush, the general idea for that novel came from Carrie Underwood’s song, “Before He Cheats.” The first thing to tickle my brain was imagining a heartbroken heroine hearing those badass lyrics. I pictured her feeling vindicated, then having the same urge to wreak havoc on her cheating boyfriend’s car. That plot bunny got my thoughts jumping. What if she damaged the wrong man’s car? What if she was down on her luck and couldn’t pay for the damages? What if the owner of said car was the hero and needed some sort of free labor? You get the gist.
I think it’s fabulous you developed the story around a sole idea for the opening scenes. What made you decide to set Huxley and Bea’s tale in New Orleans?
One of the many fascinating things about New Orleans is that it has so many personalities, from fun and vibrant to sensual and often times heartbreaking. I’ve read a number of NOLA books lately, and each one gives you a different perspective of the same city, which makes perfect sense. As writers, we want our setting to match the tone of our novel. I knew I wanted this book to have a fun, whimsical feel to it, so I focused on that aspect of New Orleans.
This was such a fun read, and I love that Huxley isn’t the superficially picture-perfect hero. What made you choose to write his scars where everyone can see them?
When tackling this book, I wanted to reach for something different. I wanted Huxley’s complex history to be a bigger part of him—visible reminders that were at the heart of what made it difficult for him to let go of his past mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, and I like to reflect that in my books in different ways.
I can definitely appreciate that, and your heroine, Bea, is like a pop of confetti in a black and white photo. It’s so refreshing, yet she’s had such a hard time with the men in her life. Any reason in particular you chose to make her such a burst of color despite her tribulations?
Bea is the yin to Huxley’s yang, and, as you know, writers never make these choices accidentally. I worked to make them opposites of the same spectrum so the reader could see how truly perfect they were for each other, how they filled each other’s voids, regardless of the obstacles keeping them apart. I’m also a glass-half-full believer, but focusing on the positive in life isn’t always easy. I wanted to explore that dynamic on the page.
Ahhh, the “opposites attract” trope is aways my catnip! You’re a pro now, of course, but we all start somewhere. Can you tell our newer writers what you struggled with as a newbie yourself?
Pacing and plotting were definitely gray areas for me, and they are the backbone of a good book. Now that I have a better handle on those skills, I’ve become a dedicated plotter when crafting a first draft. I always veer from my outlines at some point, but having the structure written before I start is the best and most efficient way for me to work.
That’s good advice. Even the loosest of outlines can help us stay on the right path. What advice would you give to the burgeoning romance writer about writing and/or the industry?
Make friends in the community and do your best to keep your eyes on your own work. Without a support network, this writing game can be a lonely, painful process. And if you’re constantly comparing your work to others—numbers of reviews, types of reviews, better deals, better agent, better publishing house—you’re forgetting why you started writing in the first place. Focus on your personal goals and celebrate each tiny milestone with your writing friends.
To quote Teddy Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Too true. Speaking of celebrating with writing friends, All The Kissing just wrapped up our first writing retreat in Austin, Texas. Have you attended a retreat or gotten to connect face-to-face with your writer-pals?
Although I haven’t been on a technical “retreat,” I’ve attended a number of conferences that give me a similar sense of belonging and inspiration. Taking workshops is a great way to feel rejuvenated, and spending time with writing pals is simply the best. We often carve out writing time while at a conference, as well as drinking and laughing time. All of it feeds the soul.
Okay, let’s feed the imagination and have a little fun. You and I have the same celebrity crush, so, Jason Momoa aside, it’s time to play Marry, Bang, Kill: The Chris Edition! Chris Evans, Chris Pine, and Chris Hemsworth — you may substitute one Chris if you like…
Marry Chris Evans, bang Chris Hemsworth, and this one pains me because THOSE EYES AND THOSE LIPS, but kill Chris Pine.
He does have killer lips, but Chris Evans with a beard…*shivers with delight* What’s something our readers wouldn’t know about you?
I used to be a high school art teacher and did my teaching degree in Perth, Australia.
Ohmygod, I can smell the plot bunny from halfway around the world. Gimmee!!! Seriously, though, can you tell us what you’re working on next? Are there books in the works for Huxley’s hunky brothers?
I’m currently focusing on writing standalones. My next book, which has been signed to a German publisher along with New Orleans Rush, is called FALLING FOR ELVIS. It’s a wild ride about a cat-burglar heroine intent on stealing from the hero, who moonlights as an Elvis tribute artist. She wants to steal his Van Gogh, and he wants to steal her heart. North American publishing details haven’t been hammered out yet!
Congratulations, that’s great news! And, as always, I’m amazed by your creative mojo. Thanks, Kelly, for taking the time to talk to us.
New Orleans Rush is available for purchase now in both the US and Canada. You can catch up with Kelly on Instagram or Facebook, where I guarantee you’ll be entertained by her posts. To get news about her upcoming releases, be sure to check her website, https://www.kellysiskind.com/.
Feature image art courtesy of Mary Ann Smith