The books shown on the left are by Kelli Sue Landon. Click on the cover to order.

This interview was conducted by Douglas R. Cobb on April 13, 2011.

If you're looking for a great YA mystery, look no further than Sudden Moves, the latest page-turning novel by the talented Kelli Sue Landon! She is an accomplished author, and her tale of how sixteen-year-old Michelle Martin braves danger and the doubts of others to find out what's behind the mysterious disappearance of her friend, Katie Brashers, will stay with you long after you finish reading the book. Kelli has graciously agreed to do an interview with me in which she will talk about her influences, her life, and will answer my questions about Sudden Moves. So, don't you make a move--except to maybe grab yourself a snack, like a bag of chips--and check out my interview with Kelli!

Douglas R. Cobb: Kelli, have you always liked mysteries? What authors/books have influenced you the most, and are there any you've read lately that you'd recommend?

Kelli Sue Landon: I love the Stephanie Plum series from Janet Evanovich. Her writing style has suited me, with the dialogue throughout her books. They are really fast paced and exciting. The book Misery from Stephen King inspired me to write Sudden Moves. I have always struggled with writing a novel since I am a short story writer. The movie came on and I thought to myself, if Paul Sheldon (from Misery) can be forced to write a book, I was going to force myself to do it! The boyfriend in Sudden Moves, Brad Wilkes is named after Annie Wilkes, the psychopath in Misery.

Douglas R. Cobb: You set your novel, Sudden Moves, in the small town of Giles, Illinois. Is this an actual town? I know approximately where the town of Marion is, that you mention is close to Giles, from having lived in Illinois myself; but, I haven't heard of Giles. Is it a fictional town? Did you grow up in Illinois yourself, and/or in a small town?

Kelli Sue Landon: Giles is a fictional town, based on a small town where I grew up. Marian (spelling in the book) is actually fictional too - based on Peoria. The spelling is different from the real Marion IL.

Douglas R. Cobb: What first makes the main character of your novel, Michelle Martin, suspect that perhaps her friend, Katie Brashers, didn't go to Orlando, Florida for a vacation?

Kelli Sue Landon: She thought Katie did go to Florida. She suspected something had happened to her while on the trip or after she returned. She found out the truth after leaving the police station - a part I can't give away.

Douglas R. Cobb: What does Katie have with her that is Michelle's, and why does she want it back so badly?

Kelli Sue Landon: She let Katie borrow a book to research The Great Depression for a school assignment. The book was given to Michelle from her grandmother before she died. It's an actual autographed copy and Michelle's mother would kill her if she found out she loaned it to someone. The reason for the loan, was that Katie helped Michelle out in Accounting class, so Michelle was repaying the favor.

Douglas R. Cobb: Michelle feels that the rental house that Katie lived in with her mom and younger sister might have some clues in it that can help her locate Katie.

What's the scheme that she and her friend, Tami, concocts to get inside the house?

Kelli Sue Landon: Tami decides to pose as a renter to get inside in hopes the landlord will answer questions that could lead to the truth. Michelle is supposed to be her little sister who is moving in with her.

Douglas R. Cobb: Michelle, Tami, and another friend of theirs and Katie's, Brad Wilkes, sometimes brave dangerous situations in their efforts to find Katie. Sometimes they act in ways that appear to be foolhardy, like Tami's wanting to date Sean, the man who shows them the rental house. He's in his twenties, and Michelle warns her she thinks he is married, and might be involved in Katie's disappearance; but, she wants to date him anyway.

Why does she want to date him so badly, and could you go into another example about any of the characters putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations?

Kelli Sue Landon: She is a teenager, seeing this guy as older and proabably has money if he owns property. She also mentions that this guy is "hot". Michelle puts herself in some dangerous situations by taking her dad's car to the police station, then deciding to follow up herself while in the car - going another way. She also cuts class and takes the city bus into Marian. There is violence toward the end, putting Michelle's life at stake.

Douglas R. Cobb: Probably not many of your teen readers have heard of Peyton Place, a fictional town where there were many secrets, romances, and mysteries, and some very hypocritical people living there. I mention in my review of your novel that, for a small town, Giles has many secrets.

I don't want you to give away any spoilers that might ruin the novel for others; but, could you say what some of the townspeople think about a romantic connection between Sean and Luanne, the foster mother of Katie and her younger "sister," DeeDee?

Kelli Sue Landon: Yes, there are rumors flying all over Giles about Luanne having an affair with Sean, who is married. His car is seen many times in her driveway, so the town automatically thinks he is there for a more serious reason than just a landlord making house calls. One rumor leads to another and before long, Luanne has a reputation all over town as a tart.

Douglas R. Cobb: Michelle doesn't get along well with her mom, who is the town's hairdresser.

Could you please get into their relationship a bit more here, and tell why Michelle believes her mom is too strict? Would you say Michelle's mom is actually strict, or is that notion perhaps just how Michelle views the situation, being a teen and wanting to get more freedoms?

Kelli Sue Landon: A little of both. Michelle cannot communicate with her mom (Nancy). Her mom talks down to her - my mom does the same thing. Nancy is easily irritated. She misses her husband who is hardly home, because of his job which makes her more moody. She is protective to Michelle, not only for her safety, but because she doesn't want the town talking about her not raising her daughter right, resulting in her daughter going off on her own to snoop around about Katie's family. Basically Nancy is like "OMG! What would people think of me?" like a paranoid person is with everyone watching her or listening to her - she does work in a salon, so the town residents have access to her at some point. Plus she doesn't want bad business at her shop.

Douglas R. Cobb: How does Brad get involved, and what are some of the things he does to help Michelle discover what happened to Katie?

Kelli Sue Landon: Brad is heartbroken about Katie leaving on a whim, so he asks Michelle if she has heard anything. That's how it starts. Then, he decides to pose as a renter like Tami did, but he starts to grill Sean which spooks him. He also calls the phone number Michelle found inside the house, not to mention going over to Sean's house in person to grill him some more. He doesn't stop at anything. Being the heartbroken boyfriend, he wants to know the truth more than any of them, so he won't stop until he finds out.

Douglas R. Cobb: Would you say Michelle was at all like you were, as a teen?

Kelli Sue Landon: Most definitely! I was so afraid to lie to my parents to ask for a anything. My parents were protective of me, so I wanted to get out of the house even more! I couldn't speak in front of a crowd either, like when Michelle is afraid to ask questions in class. I am the same way, even now.

Douglas R. Cobb: I have just a couple more questions for you, Kelli. First, why does Luanne become a foster mother to Katie and DeeDee? If that's giving away too much info, then that's okay; you don't need to answer it.

Kelli Sue Landon: Oh, Luanne longed for a family. I will just say this - she had a hard upbringing and was never allowed to have a family of her own. This was her time for a new life. A better life.

Douglas R. Cobb: Kelli, could you please tell our readers if you are working on another book now? If so, do you have a working title for it yet? When might we expect it out in stores?

Kelli Sue Landon: Yes I am! The title is Nightmare At Camp Forrestwood. It's in production now and should be out in May. It's about a senior class camping trip where a murderer is among the students. But who is it?

Douglas R. Cobb: Douglas R. Cobb: Those were great answers, Kelli! Thanks once again for agreeing to do this interview with me! Sudden Moves is a novel I'm sure anyone who loves to read mysteries/thrillers will want to add to his/her reading list. I and the entire staff here wish you much happiness and success in the coming years, and I'm looking forward to reading more of your novels in the future!

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