Behind The Words With Authors Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh


Readers, today, we get two authors on the blog. We’re excited to be hosting Kendra Elliot, and Melinda Leigh. We’ll be talking about their latest release ECHO ROAD.  First, lets learn a bit about Melinda and Kendra:::

Melinda:  Hi! I’m a former banker, a mom of grown kids, an animal lover, dog rescuer, coffee addict, and professional nerd. I write mystery thrillers, including the bestselling Morgan Dane and Bree Taggert series.

Kendra: My first book was published in 2012, and I’ve published 33 suspense novels novellas since then. I’ve sold more than 12 million books and been on the WSJ bestseller list many times. I have three adult daughters (all still living at home) and two cats.

Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?

Melinda: I’m from New Jersey, but I currently split my time between Florida and New Jersey. I am lucky enough that writing is my full-time job.

Kendra: I’m from Oregon and still live there part of the year. I spend the rest of the time living on a barrier island in Florida. Writing has been my full-time job for 12 years.

How long have you been writing?

Melinda: I never wrote anything other than financial reports (which no one wanted to read including the people I wrote them for) until I was nearly 40.

Kendra: I also started writing around 40. I never enjoyed writing in high school or college. I simply decided one day to try writing a book.

What does your typical writing day look like?

Melinda: I rise around 5 am to walk my dog. Florida summer is too hot to walk her after the sun is up. After that, I workout, eat breakfast, and try to get new words written before lunch. If I’m having a good day, I take a swim break and spend the afternoon on administrative tasks, marketing, editing, or plotting. We won’t talk about the days when I do more online shopping than writing. I watch an hour or so of TV after dinner and go to bed early. (refers back to the part about waking up at 5 am.)

Kendra: I try to write between 9 and noon. My goal is usually 2000 words when I’m deep in a book. Often that goal is not met due to…anything I can possibly procrastinate with. Lol. Currently procrastinating by fill out this interview instead of tackling my daily words. Some days absolutely everything is more appealing than writing. I agree with Melinda about the online shopping.

Tell us about your latest release? Where the idea came from? Perhaps some fun moments, or not so fun moments?

Melinda: Echo Road released on July 2.  This book was inspired by a real case we heard about during a conference. We’d been wanting to cowrite a novel bringing Bree Taggert and Mercy Kilpatrick together for years, but we couldn’t imagine how to make that happen, since our characters live on opposite coasts. The case gave us the framework for Echo Road.

Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book?

Kendra: We get asked a lot if there will be more Mercy and Bree books. We’d love to do that, but the hardest part is finding a few simultaneous months in our schedules that allows us to do so. We both have contractual obligations and varying deadlines for our individual books. For Echo Road, we sat down and wrote it very rapidly over seven weeks. We’d spotted the coinciding gap in our schedules and decided to go for it without telling our publisher. We wanted to be certain we could finish it before telling our publisher about it.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?

Melinda: I don’t have any characters that are difficult to write. The more complex they are, the more meat I can add to their overall development.

Kendra: I agree with Melinda. If a character is difficult for me to get on the page, then I’m doing something wrong and need to take a hard look at why. Usually it’s because I haven’t developed enough of their personality and backstory.

If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be?

Melinda: I wouldn’t want to be any of my characters. Terrible things happen to them. So much murder! 🤣

Kendra: I wrote a twelve-year-old girl who has no filter when she speaks, and her family lives off the grid with a farm full of rescue animals. She’s got a pretty awesome life that makes me jealous if I ignore the fact that both her parents were kidnapped by horrible people one time.

If you could spend the day with your character, what would you do? What would that day look like?

Melinda: I’d love to shadow Bree during an active case. The scientific and procedural aspects of investigating are fascinating.

Kendra: I’d love to hang out with Dr. Victoria Peres. She’s a forensic anthropologist who works with the medical examiner’s office and helps identify skeletal remains. The job fascinates me.

What’s your take on research and how do you do it?

Melinda:  I’m a nerd at heart. I love research. Because of this deep-seated love, I have to restrain myself, or I end up diving down a rabbit hole for weeks. I do just enough research to get started on a new book, then fill in facts as I go.

Kendra: I buy a lot of research books on whatever topic I’m writing about. I also spend a lot of time on YouTube watching people who work in that field. When I do this, I pay more attention to the jargon the person uses, their body language, and how they speak about their profession. You can find facts anywhere on the internet, but I like to know all the nuances with what’s going on in professionals’ heads.

Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write?

Melinda: So many! Lisa Gardner is one of my favorites. I also love Tami Hoag, Tess Gerritsen, Harlan Coben.

Kendra: Same as Melinda, but I’ll add Lee Child, Robert Crais, and Michael Connelly.

Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?

Melinda:  I have a black belt in Kenpo karate, though I’m too injured to practice anymore.

Kendra: I can peel an orange in one peel

Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!

Melinda:  My comfort foods are ice cream, red wine,

Kendra: An espresso with sugar. Red wine. Pizza with pepperoni and pineapple

What is your writing kryptonite?

Melinda: I’m highly distractible. I need quiet and isolation to write. So, any disruption to my routine throws off my whole day.

Kendra: Same as Melinda. I had big writing plans for today, but the coffee shop I was going to write in was too cold. It completely messed up my concentration and I don’t have any words yet.

What is the one question you never get ask at interviews, but wish you did? Ask and answer it.

Melinda: What are my dogs’ names? LOL. I actually get asked this all the time. But it’s still a good question. I have two rescue dogs named Bandit and Rosie. They offer support services every day by sleeping on the couch in my office.

Kendra: I’d love to be asked about the weirdest emails I get from readers. I’ve received emails that were clearly written when the reader was very angry. Usually they are angry about a particular word in a book. I never get emails complaining about all the murder and death or autopsy scenes. I can’t imagine the mindset to make the effort to contact an author and demand they change a word.

LOL, I can see why the collaboration works! Thank you both so much for joining me today!

Reader’s, here’s a quick look at ECHO ROAD:

When two cross-country cases collide, Bree Taggert and Mercy Kilpatrick join forces to catch a serial killer in an addictive novel of suspense by bestselling authors Melinda Leigh and Kendra Elliot.

During a vicious heat wave, a county maintenance worker stumbles upon two suspicious suitcases abandoned by the side of the road. Sheriff Bree Taggert responds to find two bodies stuffed inside the luggage. The press demands action. The community is on edge. Suddenly, Bree is at the center of a media firestorm.

In Oregon, a senator’s daughter goes missing. FBI Special Agent Mercy Kilpatrick agrees to keep the politically sensitive case on the down-low. When she finds a link between the disappearance and a double homicide three thousand miles away, Mercy takes the next plane out—and lands right in the middle of Bree’s double homicide investigation.

To save the missing girl, Bree and Mercy must work together to stop a killer who’s playing deadly games with the press and stirring up public rage. Hungry for notoriety, he dares Bree and Mercy to catch him before he kills again.


Kendra Elliot (left in photo) has landed on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list multiple times and is the award-winning author of the Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series, the Mercy Kilpatrick novels, and the Columbia River novels. She’s a three-time winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, an International Thriller Writers Award finalist, and an RT Award finalist. She was born and raised in the rainy Pacific Northwest but now lives in flip-flops.

Melinda Leigh (right in photo) is the #1 Amazon Charts and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the She Can series, the Midnight Novels, the Scarlet Falls series, the Morgan Dane series, and the Bree Taggert series. Melinda is an International Thriller Award finalist for best first book. Her novels have garnered numerous other awards, including two RITA nominations. She holds a second-degree black belt in Kenpo karate and has taught women’s self-defense. Melinda lives in a messy house with her family and a small herd of rescue pets.

Both authors are now based near Orlando, Florida.