Interview with the author of Counterfeit Commoner, Kelle Z. Riley!

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Denise Alicea

This blog was created by Denise in September 2008 to blog about writing, book reviews, and technology. Slowly, but surely this blog expanded to what it has become now, a central for book reviews of all kinds interviews, contests, and of course promotional venue for authors, etc

Counterfeit Commoner


When she traded her tiara for a few days of freedom, she didn’t expect to find herself – or to lose her heart to the one man guaranteed to break it . . .

When Lady Sophia de Lyons, former fiancé to a king and protected daughter of the aristocracy, masqueraded as an American commoner, she didn’t expect to fall in love. She gets more than she bargained for when the man of her dreams turns out to be the tabloid reporter of her nightmares. Can she ever learn to trust him after he betrays her? Or will they both lose everything in a desperate gamble for love?


Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!

These days I like to say I’m from the United States—because I’ve moved around enough in my life to make it difficult to answer any other way. But for starters, I was born and raised in Central Ohio and went to college in Cincinnati, Bloomington IN, and finally Columbus Ohio as I worked my way through a BS, MS and Ph.D. in chemistry.

My work life landed me in the Chicago suburbs for a couple of decades, before taking me to Chattanooga TN.  My job had me traveling to the San Francisco suburbs for about 25% of the time. These days, I spend lots of time in the Orlando/Daytona area near family while taking frequent trips back to Chattanooga to stay connected with the arts community there.

My “day job” has taken me across the U.S. and around the globe…but that’s a story for another time.


I’ve been writing professionally for almost as long as I’ve been doing science. Thank goodness my right brain works and plays so well with my left brain!


Tell us about your book? How did it get started?


Counterfeit Commoner is the fourth book in my Riches & Royals series and the third book where at least part of the action takes place in the Caribbean Kingdom of Melesia.

One fun aspect of the book is the chance to see certain scenes from two different points of view. Gracie (the heroine of Reluctantly Royal) and Lady Sophia (the heroine of Counterfeit Commoner) share a couple of scenes and a lot of secrets in the two books. I especially enjoyed giving Sophia–who seemed shallow in earlier books–a history and story of her own where her good qualities had the chance to shine!

How do you create your characters?

The inspiration for this book came from my love of classic movies, especially those that involve characters switching places. For classic movie fans, Sophia’s story has elements from “Roman Holiday” and “It Happened One Night” which were some of the earliest romantic movies I watched as a kid. Of course, I had to freshen and modernize the plots!

Usually when I create characters, I start by “interviewing” them. In the case of Sophia, I knew a bit about her from prior stories, but learning the details of her life had to come through the interview process. Using that analogy frees my brain to play and often leads me to places I might not have thought to explore if I’d been working with a traditional outline.


I usually know a few plot points I want to incorporate into a story (in this case, plot points from prior stories were already set in stone), and from there, I let the characters do the walking and talking. So while I have a very rudimentary plot, I’m mostly a seat of the pants writer. As I said, that process leads to some very interesting twists.


What inspires and what got your started in writing?

First, I have to give credit to my mother. She read to me from the time I was born and instilled a love of reading that I have to this day. Books were both a resource and a refuge for me.

Later, as a child, I used storytelling to escape from uncomfortable parts of my life. I was an intuitive, quiet child who was gifted with a sometimes loud and dramatic family. I learned to copy by pretending to be someone else—a cowgirl, a princess, a CEO, a ninja, or even a space alien. Whenever I needed to complete an uncomfortable task (such as public speaking) I slipped into one of my imaginary personas and let her take the lead. To some extent, I still call on these skills today (as do, I’m told, method actors).

Before I knew I was born to be a writer, I began re-writing ending of books, movies, and TV shows that I felt didn’t end the way they should. I adore a happily-ever-after and am not a fan of tragedy. It isn’t surprising, then, that most tragic stories I read soon had alternate endings that I crafted for myself. It probably explains why I enjoy stories that tell classics from alternative points-of-view. For example, in the Wizard of Oz, we all know the green witch is evil. Until we see her in Wicked…and understand there is much more to the story than we thought.

Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks?)

I do my best writing when I have no interruptions, so I often have to turn to my husband (who wants to be helpful) and say to him “Honey, I love you. But I’m working.” He knows then to retreat to the TV and let me write. Since I hear the characters in my head, I need quiet so I can listen to them.

Sometimes music helps me block out other distractions, but it cannot be music with words I can sing to. So classical or Enya or new age instrumental music works best.

When I’m really into a scene, sometimes, I’ll pace in my office, thinking about how the characters are moving in space. At other times, I’ll obsess about plot details like train schedules or the dimensions of furniture in the homes where my characters live. At those times, I won’t be able to continue writing until I figure out the details that are bothering me!

How do you get your ideas for writing?

I wish I knew where my ideas come from. Unfortunately my subconscious is a mystery even to me. I do know that it often starts with the smallest of ideas. For the Riches & Royals series, the idea that kicked off the entire series started with a title. I wanted to write a title for every letter of the alphabet. So in the story that had the work title “A Literary Affair” I wondered what would happen if a wealthy man who had trouble reading fell in love with a teacher. The idea morphed into my dyslexic billionaire chocolatier and the literacy teacher who changed his life. And so Read My Lips was born.

The second book in the series (Royally Scandalized) started because I had a Greek co-worker who I thought was handsome enough to be a fictional price. And I had visited Paradise Island in the Bahamas, where the main hotel looked like a castle to me. The two ideas merged, Melesia, the island kingdom settled by exiled Greeks became the setting for the subsequent stories.

By the way I also write a cozy mystery series (Undercover Cat series). Both the killers and the victims in that series are often inspired by people who annoyed me in real life, thus earning fictional death or imprisonment! At present I think I have enough characters for the next 17 books. (Insert evil grin)


What do you like to read?

I enjoy reading historical romance. The Cinderella feel of them always takes me to my happy place. When I write romance, I tend to channel that same “over the top” feel, but with modern plumbing.

I also enjoy mystery novels (Denise Swanson is a favorite) and some mild thriller stuff (e.g. Harlen Cobin level of scary).

When I am writing I usually turn to non-fiction, and my tastes are eclectic. I tend to bing read and bing write!


What would your advice to be for authors or aspiring in regards to writing?

My best advice to a new author is to join a group of fellow writers. Working with other writers is always inspiring. Hanging out with people who share your passions is the most effective way to spur your own productivity. That said, it’s best to find writers who are more experienced than you so you can learn from them. In time, you’ll become a mentor too. Then it is important to remember to guard your time and your work so you don’t get drained.


Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m terrible at social media although I keep trying. I hope new readers are patient with me. On the other hand, I LOVE meeting lepeope at reader events and cons. We (my spouse assistant and I) do a number of comic-con style events and I’d love to meet new readers there!

I also enjoy teaching about writing and research and have a list of seminars under the “Book Kelle” tab on my website. I’m available for in-person or Zoom classes and can customize talks for events.


LINKS to social media


Website link                  

Facebook link               

Twitter link                   

Instagram link   

Amazon Author Page

Good Reads Page          

Book Bub Page             





Book Links


Read My Lips               

Royally Scandalized                 

Reluctantly Royal                     

Counterfeit Commoner             




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