Kendra Elliot & Melinda Leigh
June 2, 2024


Kendra Elliot & Melinda Leigh

Kendra Elliot has sold twelve million books, hit the Wall Street Journal top ten bestseller list more than a dozen times, and is a three time winner of the Daphne du Maurier award.

She is an International Thriller Writers’ finalist and a Romantic Times finalist. She grew up in the lush Pacific Northwest but now spends most of her time on a warm beach wearing flip flops.


#1 Amazon Charts and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author Melinda Leigh has sold over 14 million books. As a fully recovered banker and a life-long lover of books, she started writing as a way to preserve her sanity while raising her kids. Melinda’s debut novel, SHE CAN RUN, was an International Thriller Award finalist. Since then, she has garnered numerous writing accolades, including two RITA® Award nominations and an induction into the NJ Romance Writers Hall of Fame.

Q. What inspired you to write Echo Road?

Melinda: We’d often talked about doing a novel together with some of our established law enforcement characters, but Kendra’s characters are on the West Coast and Melinda’s are on the East. We were at a conference and the presenter was describing an investigation which involved law enforcement between two distant states. We looked at each other, thinking the same thing. And instantly knew how to bring our two characters together.


Q. You both are good friends in real life and have written series together before, but this is your first co-authored thriller. What was the experience like writing one novel together?

Kendra: It was really good! We’d discussed the book for a few years and by the time we could sit down together and write, we knew what we wanted to do. We brainstormed and outlined what was to happen for a few chapters, assigned them, individually wrote our chapters in Scrivener, and then pasted them into Google Docs so the other person could review. We wrote our chapters from our own character’s POV.

We rarely had disagreements about content. Working together, you have to be flexible and willing to change what you write. Unless one of us felt VERY strongly about something, we hardly ever suggested changes to the other’s pages. After writing 20 novellas together, we knew how the other person wrote and knew we could rely on each other to get it right. I think our main question to each other was, “What would your character do or say here?”


Q. Can you share more about the dynamic between Mercy and Bree? What was it like to have their two very disparate worlds collide in this book? 

Melinda: Both Mercy and Bree are confident in who they are and what they do. They’re also cautious and skeptical of people they don’t know. They didn’t immediately welcome the other’s help in their cases. They both held back information and viewed the other character with side eyes. They had to learn the other person was trustworthy and knowledgeable. We thrust them into situations where they were forced to rely on one another, and they slowly grew to admire and even like the other person. The novel is as much about growing a friendship as it is about murder. Our agents were thrilled with how we grew the dynamic between the two women.


Q. What sort of research did you have to do (if any) to bring these crimes to life while writing Echo Road

Kendra: We attended a conference several years ago that gave us the inspiration and general concept for this book. Given that we both write crime fiction, we regularly research police procedures and keep up-to-date on advances in forensics. Mystery readers know their forensics! It’s important to be correct with the details.


Q. Were there any scenes that were particularly difficult to write? Do you have a favorite?

Kendra: I think the black moment was hard. It’s always hard in any book, but in ECHO ROAD we wanted it to really tear down the characters and make them face unimaginable situations. We slowly worked our way through it, adding twist after twist. It’s so much easier to have two brains working on a scene. This long scene is definitely one of my favorites. I also like our hospital scene with the two women; it shows how far their friendship has come.

Melinda: The black moment was hard, but the first meeting of our characters also presented a unique challenge. We needed to be realistic, stay true to the well-known characters, and leave plenty of room for their working relationship to grow into mutual respect and then a friendship. Finding just the right note required some discussion. But we’re very happy with the result. Their initial suspicion of each other feels natural and presents as one of the obstacles they need to overcome to effectively work the case.


Q. Is there anything that long-time fans of your respective series will be surprised by as they read Echo Road?

Kendra: I don’t think so. My fans know Mercy Kilpatrick inside and out, and she is true to her character in this book. I think they’ll enjoy seeing her in a New York setting instead of the usual rural Oregon.

Melinda: My readers have had eight books to get to know Bree Taggert very well, and she remains true to herself in this bonus installment. The two unique elements are the complexity of the case and the friendship that develops between Mercy and Bree. We’re hoping readers enjoy both the new and familiar elements.


Q. What’s next for you both? Do you think we’ll see Agent Kilpatrick and Sheriff Taggert together again?

Melinda: We each have two individual releases. Melinda’s Bree Taggert is in TRACK HER DOWN and BEYOND HER REACH. Kendra has AT THE RIVER and THE NEXT GRAVE. It’s tough to fit time to write together between our individual projects, but we would love to write another book with Bree and Mercy.

We’ve also discussed writing a novel with two of our other popular characters–maybe Morgan Dane and Ava McLane. And we’ve created a series concept with brand new characters to write together.

Kendra Elliot & Melinda Leigh's Latest

Echo Road - Elliot and Leigh

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.

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