Interview & Contest: V.K. Sykes

VK SykesJen: Please help me welcome the writing duo V.K. Sykes to Romancing the Book.  V.K., will your share a short bio with us?
V.K.:  V.K. Sykes is really two people – Vanessa Kelly and Randy Sykes, a husband and wife team who write USA Today Bestselling contemporary romance and also romantic suspense. Randy excels at plot and characterization, but tends to fall down on the job when it comes to that pesky old thing called emotion. That’s where Vanessa steps in. She usually writes the sex scenes too, since Randy is a bit uncomfortable when it comes to that sort of stuff. Vanessa also writes award-winning Regency-set historical romance for Kensington Zebra under her own name. You can check out Vanessa’s bestselling historical romances at

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Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
V.K.:  Our new book is called SUMMER AT THE SHORE, and it’s the second book in the Seashell Bay Series of contemporary romances. The setting is a pretty island off the coast of Maine, featuring a small town whose families go back for generations. Think boats, sunshine, lobster, the beach, the local pub, blueberry festivals, quirky locals, and a lot of romance!

The hero and heroine are Ryan Butler and Morgan Merrifield, who both grew up on the island and have been friends for years. But Ryan took off after high school to join the military, eventually going on to be a Special Forces soldier. Morgan stayed closer to home and is now trying to run her family’s ailing B & B after the death of her father, which is proving to be quite the challenge. Ryan is back on the island for the summer, and is trying to help her out. It’s a classic friends-to-lovers story.

We got the idea for the series from visits to family in Maine—specifically, the Calendar Island in Casco Bay, near Portland. These islands are truly lovely and interesting, with some really cool small towns that have existed for generations. There are some proud lobster fishing communities in Maine, and we thought it would be great place to set a series of books. We love New England!

Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
V.K.:  We’re crazy pantsers. We do plot boards, outlines, character biographies, charts on goals and conflict, and then Vanessa writes a big-ass synopsis. We like to have a map of where we’re going before we start the book.

Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
V.K.:  Sexy, warm-hearted, emotional.

Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
V.K.:  Randy says he always forgets because he doesn’t write them down immediately. Vanessa keeps a notebook and pen on her side of the bed for any ideas that strike in the middle of the night. She’s also been known to jump out of the shower and race for her notebook.

Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write?  Is there one you’ll probably stay away from?  Why?
V.K.:  We’ve written a romantic suspense and we’d both like to write more. It’s a genre we really love. We would probably never write New Adult—I think we both just feel too old to relate to the characters in a satisfying way. Not that we’re old. No way. Nope, not even.

Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
V.K.:  Randy did a lot of research on lobster fishing, since many of the characters in our fictional town are lobster fishermen—or women, as the case may be. The heroine of our first book captains her own lobster boat. You would not believe how many YouTube videos there are on how to fish for lobsters.

Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing?  Easiest? Most rewarding?
V.K.:  For the most challenging, Randy would probably say plotting and Vanessa would probably say writing the first draft. For both of us, the most rewarding is getting nice reviews from readers. Also, writing The End!

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors?  What are you reading now?
V.K.:  Randy is a huge Pat Conroy fan, and he also loves Lee Child’s Reacher books. Right now he’s reading a contemporary romance by Nora Roberts. Vanessa really loves historical mystery, so she’s a big fan of Elizabeth Peters and Deanna Raybourn. She also loves Loretta Chase and Lisa Kleypas. Right now she’s reading Elizabeth Hoyt’s latest Maiden Lane book, which is a wonderful.

Jen: What’s next for you?
V.K.:  We’re currently working on the third book in the series, SEE YOU AT SUNSET, out in 2016. Vanessa is also working on the first book in her new historical romance series, The Improper Princesses. It’s a spin-off of her current series, The Renegade Royals.


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