Thursday, February 1, 2018 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Meet Sullivan's Sons

The Write Way Café welcomes Elley Arden, Kristina Knight, and Katie Kenyhercz, authors of the three-book series Sullivan's Sons, who give us a peek into their writing process.

Tell us about your series, Sullivan’s Sons.
     Katie: Three professional athlete brothers get the shock of their lives when they find out they have a long-lost sister. Over the course of the three books, they search for her and each finds love along the way.
     Kristina: Sullivan’s Sons is a kind of family saga, focusing on the three sons of Jack Sullivan, a former football player and broadcaster. When a deep family secret comes out, Gavin, Colby, and Luc will have to reassess everything they thought they knew about their family…and about love!
     Elley: The Sullivan’s Sons series gives readers an inside look at the personal lives of an extremely successful and iconic sports family with a surprising secret. The three books in the series follow along with each Sullivan son as he learns the truth about his family and comes to terms with what it means for him. Of course, all that soul searching leaves a man open to love!

How did you come up with the idea, and then the title of your series?
     Katie: Elley came up with the idea after spending some time on Anna Maria Island. Once we had the character names, the series name took care of itself!
     Kristina: That’s an Elley question! She was the mastermind of this whole thing!
     Elley: I’ve been spending time on Anna Maria Island, which is a true island in the Gulf of Mexico just south of Tampa, for several years now, and it’s magical. Last year, while I was writing the last book in another series, I started thinking about what I wanted to do next, and I knew whatever it was had to take place on AMI. Since I go for spring training, I figured I should write what I know, but I thought it would be fun to include other authors and other sports. From there, my brain went wild, using Howie Long as inspiration for Jack Sullivan. I emailed Katie and Kristina with the basic premise, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Can you share a fun fact or a few about your series?
     Katie: In FOUND on Anna Maria Island, the character of Ernie is inspired a great deal by a wonderful lady named Liz. She was my best friend and passed a few years ago. She may have grown old, but she never grew up, something I really loved about her!
     Kristina: It’s set on the actual island of Anna Maria, in the Tampa area. In my book, Lost on Anna Maria Island, Colby and Madalyn have been friends for most of their lives, so it was really fun watching how they opened themselves up and grew into the romantic part of their relationship. Oh! And Colby has nicknames for his brothers – Boy-O and Dude.
     Elley: The Sandbar Restaurant, where Gavin and Emerson have their first date in HOME is real. You can eat with your toes in the sand! There is also a nightly sunset contest. If you pick the exact time, you win dessert and champagne. And yes, we won last February with 7:21 p.m. as our guess. The Waterfront Restaurant is also real and incredibly delicious. And, my mother saw dolphins for the very first time at the Rod and Reel Pier much like Emerson does in the book. (My mom squealed and cried, too.)

Is this the first time you’ve done a series with other authors?  What did you learn that you didn’t expect?
     Katie: This was the first time I collaborated on a series with other authors, and it was a blast! It was so helpful having other authors to work out plot issues. We were very lucky, too, that our styles were so similar, and we agreed every step of the way about pretty much everything. I get the feeling that probably doesn’t happen with every collaboration, so I’m very grateful! I’d work with Elley and Kristi again any day!
     Kristina: It is! I went in kind of expecting us to butt heads a little, but the whole process has been really exciting and fun. I think Elley had a great idea for the family saga part, and that was so well thought out that it very much shaped where the series as a whole went, but it also left all of us room to write the books as we saw them.
     Elley: I worked with multiple authors on another series a couple years ago, so I know how rewarding these collaborations can be. This is my first time working with Katie and Kristina, though, and I’m so happy with how effortlessly everything came together. We really enjoyed ourselves and worked well together.

If Sullivan’s Sons was made into a movie, who would play the main characters of each book, and why?
     Katie: I’ll answer for FOUND! I’ll say Zac Efron for Lucas and Anna Kendrick for Skylar.
     Kristina: Colby (hero of book two) was very loosely based on real-life football player JJ Watt, who I think is adorable. Madalyn (or Mad, as she’s called through most of the book…but I swear she doesn’t have an anger problem) was loosely based on Cobie Smulders, who I’ve loved since her HIMYM days.
     Elley: I don’t know if either of these lovely ladies act, but models Ashely Graham and Candace Huffine would be my top choices to play Emerson in HOME. They are both gorgeous and vivacious, the embodiment of bold and beautiful. Gavin would be played by Charlie Hunnam, because, well, look at him. Lol. And he does a great job with rough-around-the-edges characters while still giving them heart.

Are you plotters or pantsers?  If both, did this create problems in brainstorming your series?
     Katie: I’m a hybrid! I usually come up with a loose outline and let creativity take it from there. For this series we had to plot extensively and brainstorm together throughout the entire process to make sure everything was set continuity-wise. I enjoyed it because we all got a lot of reassurance we were on the right track, and if any alterations were needed, we had each other to rely on for good advice. We were all good at compromise and cooperation and didn’t hit any bumps.
     Kristina: I’m a little of both, actually. I keep a pretty detailed outline from the beginning of where I think the story is going to go…this time, I got to about the ¾ mark and realized I’d really messed up part of the sequence of events and character arcs. Which put me a little behind schedule and probably stressed out Katie and Elley, but we made it work, and they were so supportive and encouraging!
     Elley: I’ve forced myself to become a plotter over the last few years, but it hasn’t worked out well for me. I almost always end up off track. I did for this book, and that set us back a little bit time wise. Thankfully, Katie and Kristina were there to help me get back to the heart of the story I’d intended to write in the first place—another bonus of working together from the beginning.

Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
     Katie: The hardest for me are what I call the “between scenes”. I can know my major plot points and can write those easily enough, but I usually stall out between those scenes and am not sure what to do to keep things moving. Eventually it comes to me!
     Kristina: It depends on the book. In this one, it was definitely the love scene. The kissing scenes, those were fun, but I just couldn’t get the full-on love scene to flow.
     Elley: Scenes with heavy emotion tend to get away from me and become very dark or melodramatic. I need to step away and come back to them over and over again to get the right balance.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?
     Katie: I favor quippy banter and playful sarcasm with genuine heart ribboning through it.
     Kristina: That’s a hard question! I think it’s the emotion and character depth, at least that is my hope. I like to write strong and capable and yet flawed heroes and heroines, because I love an emotional read. That’s what I always strive to do, and hopefully, that’s what winds up on the page.
     Elley: I’ve been told I do conflict well. I always try to give my hero and heroine true conflict rather than trouble. Often times, this leads me to write about opposites attracting. Usually I start out with two people who seem like the worst possible match, but they end up being absolutely perfect for each other. There was a little of that between Gavin and Emerson in HOME, but not as much as I’ve written in the past.

What was the hardest part of writing this series?
     Katie: We wrote the books simultaneously, so for me, the hardest part was writing the third book without having read the first two. I knew the major turning points of HOME and LOST, but I had to guess a lot about characterization and backstory only to go back and change things once Elley and Kristina got a look at my draft.
     Kristina: Figuring out the right sequence of events that I mentioned above! Katie and Elley were so fun to work with and play with – we have a string of Facebook IM’s that could probably circle the globe at this point!
     Elley: I wrote the first book, so the hardest part for me was writing with the knowledge that if I wrote a crappy book, nobody would want to read the other books in the series, which would mean I’d let Katie and Kristina down. Those thoughts paralyzed my writing at times.

What did you enjoy most about writing this series?
     Katie: Working with Elley and Kristina and sharing the excitement together!
     Kristina: The backstory, and weaving in what happened before with what was happening currently. Creating the saga arc that is present through all three books what a challenge – as was figuring out the schedules of three professional athlete brothers! – but it was also a lot of fun.
     Elley: I love the string of Facebook messages we’ve had running for almost a year now. There’s so much information, it’s impossible to go back through and find what you need. When I was actually writing, though, what I enjoyed most was revisiting all the things I love about Anna Maria Island. It really is magical.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
     Katie: I do read them, but never respond! It’s not professional and is only asking for trouble. When you get a bad review, just keep in mind that person is not YOUR reader, but plenty of other people are. Re-read the good reviews and remember that you reached the people you wanted to reach.
     Kristina: I try not to read them, but it’s impossible not to see things now and again. I never respond, because that isn’t my job. My job is to write the best book I can, and after that, I can only hope that readers will connect with the story and characters. That’s my best advice: write the book as well as you can, and then let it go.
     Elley: As a rule, I don’t read reviews. Occasionally, someone will send me a link or I’ll see a favorable title or rating, and I’ll bite, knowing it won’t be horrible. When I was first starting out, I read all reviews, believing the criticism would make me a better writer. It didn’t. It only sent me to the sofa, where I cried about being awful and couldn’t write for days. It’s impossible to keep deadlines like that—at least it’s impossible for me.

What are you working on now?
     Katie: As we wrap up the releases of the Sullivan’s Sons Series, I’m starting Vegas Girl, Lady Sinners Book 2!
     Kristina: I just turned in a new series proposal to my editor for something that’s going to be a little new and different, and hopefully I’ll be able to share details soon! I’m finishing up a new women’s fiction project, with a strong romantic element to it, and there are more books coming soon!
     Elley: I’ve started work on a new series set in a small Pennsylvania lake town, where Rosie Ellis discovers her late father’s best kept secrets: two daughters, Violet and Sugar, who now own as much of the Laurel Lake Tavern as Rosie does. Lots of family drama in this one, too. I’m looking forward to returning to small-town romance again.

What advice would you give other others working on their first series together?
     Katie: Remember that the series belongs to all of you and really listen to your collaborators. Make decisions based on the best interest of the books.
     Kristina: Don’t be afraid to share ideas. Create a schedule with plenty of wiggle room, because life has a way of blowing up when you least expect it. Be kind and encouraging with one another, but never be afraid to share an honest opinion.
     Elley: Teamwork makes the dream work. Talk openly and honestly. Most importantly be flexible. Lean on each other when need be, but give each other space to create, too.

Anything else you would like readers to know?
     Katie: If you like sports romance and hockey in particular, check out my Las Vegas Sinners Series!
     Kristina: Just that this series was so much fun to write, and I hope they enjoy the books as much as we enjoyed writing them!
     Elley: I have more sports romances available at online retailers. Baseball and football. I especially like to make women the professional athletes. Why should guys have all the on-field fun?

Home on Anna Maria Island
book cover by Elley Arden
     Pittsburgh Privateers third baseman Gavin Sullivan is home on Anna Maria Island with a lot on his mind: his mother’s recent battle with breast cancer and, now, the surprising news his oldest brother, Colby, is a twin. Gavin has a sister he’s never met, and worse, he’s sworn to secrecy while his parents try to find her. Is it any wonder he shows up to Spring Training thirty pounds heavier than last season? Armed with a complicated diet and a warning from Coach Zee, Gavin feels wrecked, until he finds a half-naked goddess on his parents' stretch of beach. Funny how the body that has been making him feel so miserable lately suddenly has him flying high.
     Curve model Emerson Raye wants to prove the naysayers back home in West Virginia wrong. Big is beautiful, too. All she has to do is land a spot in the Sports Unlimited Swimsuit Edition by convincing America to vote for her. When pro athlete Gavin Sullivan stumbles onto her oceanfront photo shoot and asks her out for drinks, Emerson and her assistant concoct a plan to leak photos of the date to the media and create the vote-getting buzz Emerson needs. Soon, Emerson realizes there’s more to Gavin than meets the eye, and their temporary, no-strings relationship heats up. But can something lasting survive under harsh media scrutiny when secrets threaten to sabotage everything?

Available now on Amazon

Lost on Anna Maria Island
book cover by Kristina Knight     Florida Warriors star defensive end, Colby Sullivan, is the best in the business, but since his parents dropped the news that he not only had a biological sister but a biological twin sister, he’s been on his heels. He feels like he’s in the middle of a cover defense with no one backing him on the strong side. Colby knows, as the eldest, it is his job to keep the family going, but he can’t figure out what all this means to him with the daily interruptions from either his well-meaning parents or his rallying brothers. A flirtation with the girl next door is the perfect distraction, but all too soon she’s way past his defenses and heading for a touchdown that his heart just isn’t ready for.
     Between her baby sister’s wedding and her job rehabbing Colby’s image, Madalyn Hunter is holding on by a thread. Mad understands football, cover defenses, and option offenses, but dealing with sneaky paparazzi, her sister’s obsession with the perfect wedding, and Colby’s not-friend-like kisses has her ready to throw a Hail Mary. The more time she spends with Colby, the harder it is to resist the gorgeous man who has always been her best friend. It’s fourth and goal with love on the line, but can Madalyn teach this star defender that the best way to protect his heart is to give it to her?

Available February 7 on Amazon

Found on Anna Maria Island
book cover by Katie Kenyhercz     Tampa Thunder hockey player Lucas Sullivan’s world took a hard check when his parents revealed he had a sister they gave up for adoption when she was born. His mother’s recent health scare brought the truth to light, and a search for the lost Sullivan began. It seems to be one step forward, two steps back, and Lucas is still trying to wrap his head around it all while battling to win the Cup, and he’s so close. To de-stress between games, he heads home to Anna Maria Island every chance he gets, looking for relaxation and peace of mind. What he finds instead is a beautiful, new surf instructor who dekes past his defenses and gets dangerously close to his heart.
     Skylar Avery’s sister Scarlet has always been her best friend even though they aren’t biologically sisters. When Scarlet’s search for her birth family hit a wall, she stopped looking. Sky didn’t. Finally, the dots connected and led her to the Sullivan sports dynasty family and their home base, Anna Maria Island. Taking a job as a surf instructor puts her in the right place at the right time to meet middle brother Lucas Sullivan. He’s her ticket to getting to know the whole family so she can decide if they deserve to know Scarlet. One problem: he’s kind of perfect. Without meaning to, she starts to fall for the hockey player. Can their sweet connection survive the truth?

Available February 14 on Amazon

About the authors:

Elley Arden writes strong athlete heroines, who know how to sweep a man off his feet, for Crimson Romance. She is the author of the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed Cleveland Clash series, which follows along with the on- and off-field accomplishments of a women’s professional football team. She previously worked for The Walt Disney Company and spent over a decade as a non-fiction writer and editor. Elley loves everything about this crazy life, and she believes there’s beauty to be found in every situation. All we have to do is look for it.
     Join Elley's mailing list at for news about her books and giveaways. Follow her on Facebook at and Twitter at @elleywrites.

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police - no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.
     Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

AuthorKatie Kenyhercz: I live in Ohio with my Air Force hubby, and I write hockey romance. I played one season of roller hockey when I was fifteen--it hurt enough that I decided I liked it better as a spectator--and it's been true love ever since! My fictional team is the Las Vegas Sinners, and my real-world team is the Pittsburgh Penguins.
     I like strong, capable heroines who bring out the vulnerability in their tough guys.
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Twitter: @KatieKenyhercz
Amazon Author Page:


HiDee said...

I can't wait to curl up with these books and see what happens! Thanks for being with us today!

Lynn said...

Thank you for being on our blog! Your series sounds wonderful!

Angela Adams said...

Sounds like a great series! Stories revolving around brothers generally make for interesting reads.

Kristina Knight said...

Thanks for having us over HiDee and Lynn!

Sandra Tilley said...

I love the whole idea of you three writing Sullivan's Sons. The concept. The collaboration. The whole trilogy idea.
Way to go, girls!

Fedora said...

What a fun interview, Elley, Katie, and Kristina! Just finished Elley's book and loved it, and I can't wait for the rest of the series! Thanks for giving us a peek behind the scenes--what a blessing for us readers that you had the inspiration to work together and that the process was so smooth! Hope you'll have the chance to follow a new spark sometime!