Q&A With Kendra Elliot & Melinda Leigh

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Q&A With Kendra Elliot & Melinda Leigh 

Kendra Elliot is the Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of the Mercy Kilpatrick novels, Columbia River novels, Bone Secret Novels & Bone Secrets and Callahan & McLane series. Melinda Leigh is the Wall Street Journal & Amazon Chart Bestselling author of the She Can series, the Midnight Novels, the Scarlet Falls series, the Morgan Dane series, and the Bree Taggert series. Publicist Olivia Haase was kind enough to send me an early copy of Echo Road which both Kendra & Melinda wrote together, crossing over Bree Taggert & Mercy Kilpatrick. If you enjoy mystery thriller books, preorder Echo Road which came out on July 2nd and is available now! 

Q: Kendra & Melinda, would you like to give a brief description of Echo Road? 

A: Echo Road is a crossover novel where Kendra’s Mercy Kilpatrick and Melinda’s Bree Taggert meet for the first time. Both characters have very successful series, but those books don’t need to be read first to enjoy Echo Road.

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.

Q: After I read Echo Road, you two said in the Acknowledgements section that while the book is fiction, it was inspired by a real case. Which case inspired the book? 

A: We’ve decided not to publicly name the original case. It was a series of horrible crimes, and we don’t want to create any more suffering for the families of the victims. If these crimes had happened in our families, we wouldn’t want to know it was inspiring novels. 

Q: How did the two of you meet & what was it like working together writing Echo Road? What is your advice for anyone wanting to write a book with a friend or family member? 

A: We met through our publisher, Montlake. There was a Yahoo loop (remember those??)  for the Montlake authors, and we first “met” there and then quickly became close friends even though we lived on opposite coasts. We wrote in the same genre, had kids near the same ages, and discovered many other parallels in our lives.  

Cowriting is a delicate balance. It can destroy friendships. Egos have to be checked and priorities maintained. Melinda and I knew each other’s personalities, writing quality, and ethics before we started. For success (and maintaining a friendship) there has to be a balanced give and take between writers. 

Our agents insisted we have a legal contract between the two of us. Melinda and I didn’t care about it. We knew we’d always do right by the other person, but we recommend contracts for other cowriting duos. Situations can change; people can change.

Q: Kendra & Melinda, are you two writing a sequel to Echo Road, & are you two writing more solo books whether they are a part of your existing series, a new series, or standalone novels?

A: The easy part of that question: We are currently working on separate books. Melinda is writing her tenth Bree Taggert novel, and Kendra is working on the first book in a new series. 

The hard part of that question: We don’t know what we’ll write together next–but there will be something! We’ve discussed a sequel to Echo Road with Bree and Mercy. We’ve discussed a separate project using other main characters of ours (Ava McLane and Morgan Dane). And we’ve created a concept for an entirely new series with brand new kick-ass women characters. It will depend on what our publisher wants. 

Q: Melinda & Kendra, knowing that Echo Road was inspired by a case, for your solo books, are all the murder mystery stories inspired by real cases? 

A: Yes and no. We’ve both been inspired by real cases, but often the inspiration for a single project comes from a unique amalgamation of real and fictional crimes we’ve read or heard about, topics we want to research, and brainstorming twists.

Q: I know you two discussed writing Echo Road for 4 years and life got in the way and then in 2023, you two finally were able to create this story. What was the writing process for Echo Road like? Did Melinda write one chapter & then Kendra wrote another chapter? 

A: Our first co-writing experience was more than a decade ago when we started a novella series. We outlined the stories together, but only one person wrote each novella and all the POVs. 

Echo Road is different. A full-length novel, Kendra wrote in Mercy’s POV and Melinda wrote in Bree’s. Most of the time the chapters alternate between our two characters, so we had to plot ahead but be open to changing direction if one of our chapters took a turn that hadn’t been planned–which happened several times. We each wrote our chapters in our own software and then transferred them into a Google doc so the other person could read them for continuity. Chapter endings were often revised to make them flow smoothly into the other person’s new chapter.  

Q: If the Mercy Kilpatrick & Bree Taggart books as well as Echo Road were to become a movie or a television series (if it’s not already in production yet) who would be your dream cast to play Mercy & Bree? 

A: Kendra: Katee Sackoff for Mercy

Melinda: Elizabeth Olsen for Bree

Q: What lessons do you hope readers learn after reading Echo Road? 

A: We hope they learn that we write an entertaining story and will be inspired to check out our individual series!