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Meet the Character Day: Chatting with Eric Warren from A Thousand Summer Secrets

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Meet the Character Day: Chatting with Eric Warren from A Thousand Summer Secrets


By Kelli A. Wilkins


This “Meet the Character Day” blog is part of a series examining my romance novels. In each “Behind the Scenes” blog, I talk about why I wrote the book, share my thoughts on the plot and/or characters, and reveal what I loved most (or least) about writing the book.


The “Meet the Character Day” blogs are fun chats with the heroes and heroines from my romances. Warning: blogs may contain spoilers. If you missed any blog in this series, you can catch up here:



Today we’re chatting with Eric Warren, the main character from my new romance, A Thousand Summer Secrets. Let’s get to know him better…


Q: Greetings, Eric. Before we get started, could you tell readers about the book?

Sure, I’m glad to. A Thousand Summer Secrets is a contemporary gay romance that takes place in an Upstate New York cabin over a Fourth of July weekend. It has a little bit of everything: family drama, humor, sadness, introspection, and of course, secrets.


Here’s the summary and links…


a thousand summer secrets

A Thousand Summer Secrets

You can’t outrun your past…

Ten years after being disowned by his family for being gay, Eric Warren pays a visit to his family’s summer cabin. It’s his last attempt at reconciliation before moving on. But a surprise from the past is waiting for him.

Eric’s intolerant brother, Jamey, has several friends staying at the cabin for the weekend, including Matt, Eric’s boyhood friend and secret crush. The years haven’t faded their mutual attraction, and they quickly reconnect. But Eric is hesitant to get romantically involved. He’s emotionally broken and scarred from his traumatic past.

As Matt tries to help Eric, Jamey goes out of his way to sabotage his brother. And when the weekend events take a disastrous turn, Eric finds himself at a crossroads.

Should he follow his search for love and acceptance with Matt? Or leave the past behind forever?

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Q: Tell us about yourself. How does the story begin for you?

When the book opens, I’m at the cabin in rural Upstate New York. Each year, my family would go to the cabin to celebrate the Fourth of July, so I decided to surprise them with a visit. Well, I got the surprise. My brother, his friend Dave, and their girlfriends showed up at the cabin, along with Matt, a friend I hadn’t seen in ten years.

My brother and Dave immediately got aggressive toward me and I started to worry that I’d made a big mistake by coming to the cabin. But Matt stood up for me. We went for a walk and I told him about my past and my problems, and he made me feel a lot better. Even though this visit wasn’t going to be easy (or ideal), I knew it was something I had to go through if I wanted to come to terms with my family and my past.


Q: Before the story began, you had a rough life. Care to share what happened with readers?

Yes and no. Yes, because readers will be interested, but no, because I’ve finally moved on and put it all behind me. 

Basically I was in a terrible car accident and a family member died. My parents blamed me for the accident. Then things got worse when they found out I’m gay. They didn’t want to deal with me or listen to reason, so they kicked me out of the house.

I drove out to California and fell on some really hard times. I developed a drinking problem and got into several bad relationships. After hitting rock bottom, I finally joined AA and got sober.

As part of my recovery I wanted to see if I could reestablish a relationship with my family and make peace. So I flew back to New York and made my way to the cabin. That’s where the story begins.


Q: Wow! Speaking of family, your brother Jamey is the antagonist (along with his friend Dave). Can you tell us about them?

Sure. My brother is the product of the intolerant, violent household we grew up in. I say several times in the story that Jamey has turned into my father, and he acts just like him. Dave is another jerk who’s anti-gay and not afraid to be verbally abusive.

I have to deal with their bad behavior over the course of the weekend. They go out of their way to make my life hell. At one point in the story I sit down with Jamey to talk things out and we start to get along. I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but the peace is short-lived.


Q: It’s a good thing Matt is there for you. How did it feel to see him after ten years?

I never expected to see Matt again, ever. When I closed the door on my old life, I put him and everyone else out of my mind. I had to focus on surviving alone in the world.

Seeing Matt was a pleasant surprise. I was given a chance to make things right between us, explain why I vanished, and tell him what happened to me over the years. Matt was thrilled to see me, and we quickly resumed our friendship. I was stunned to learn Matt always had a crush on me… and he still does!

We spent the weekend talking and reconnecting, and decided to take this budding romance slow. Neither of us wanted to rush into anything. But we do find ways to share some tender moments in the story.

Matt is a great listener and fun to be around, but he doesn’t let me get away with any crap! (Laughs) That’s why I’m crazy about him. He has helped me turn my life around, and I can never thank him enough.


Q: The title of the book is A Thousand Summer Secrets. I suppose there are lots of secrets in the story?

Oh yes! Everyone is keeping secrets—from themselves and from the other characters. Everything isn’t what it seems on the surface, and everyone has something they’re holding back for a variety of reasons. I can’t give away any of the secrets, but Kelli keeps them coming right up to the end of the story.

All the family and relationship drama is packed into a long weekend, so things get pretty intense. But it’s not all feuds and fighting, there are funny scenes, a bit of sadness, emotional upheaval, introspection, and danger. I hope readers enjoy the book.


Q: Sounds intriguing! Anything else you want to add?

This is Kelli’s fourth gay romance. The other three are: Four Days with Jack, A Secret Match, and Killer in Wolf’s Clothing. They all sound interesting and have spicy love scenes, so I can’t wait to check them out.

In case readers are wondering, Kelli’s romances span all genres (contemporary, historical/fantasy, gay, paranormal) and range from mild to super-hot. She would like me to encourage everyone to read more about them on her site: and mention that she’s also published mysteries, thrillers, and horror stories. Her site has a contact form and links to her social media.

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts with readers. This was fun!

Happy Pride Month and Best Wishes,

Eric Warren




Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 20+ romance novels, and 6 mystery/horror ebooks. Her romances span many genres and settings, and she likes to scare readers with her horror and mystery stories.

Kelli released her fourth gay romance, A Thousand Summer Secrets, in April 2024. This tender contemporary romance takes place over a summer weekend, where two friends reconnect while seeking love and acceptance.

She published The Route 9 Killer, a mystery/thriller set in Central NJ, in early 2023.

Follow Kelli on her Facebook author page: and visit her website/blog for a full title list and social media links.