Kelley Armstrong Interview
Posted by Michelle on February 14, 2008
If our forum is anything to go by, Kelley Armstrong is an author whose popularity is growing at a rapid rate. Her first book, Bitten, is about the only female werewolf, and her Women of the Otherworld series has grown from that. You can more about the books in Kell’s article.
Q. What inspired you to start writing paranormal? And why do you think this genre appeals to so many readers?
A. I’ve been fascinated by the paranormal since I was a child, so by now, I have no idea why I’m so attracted to it. As a genre, though, the attraction for me is the chance to write something fantastical that’s still within the realm of “normal”-at least in the sense that most people know what a werewolf or vampire is, and accept that more easily than they would a creature of my own creating. But because most people agree vampires don’t exist, I’m free to play with the conventions as I want, something I can’t do in, for example, crime novels.
As for why it appeals to readers, there are those, like me, who’ve always been attracted to it, but the market these days is huge, and I’ve heard many explanations for why – none of which completely works for me!
Q. Why did you choose to write strong female characters with supernatural abilities?
A. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Back in the mid-nineties, I decided to write a first person narrative about a werewolf, and when I write first person, my natural inclination is to stick to a female voice. Then, after Bitten, when the publishers wanted me to consider a series, I decided to do one with different narrators, with different supernatural powers. It was presumed they’d all be women, and I realized too late that by letting them use the “Women of the Otherworld” series name, I’d be restricted to women!
As for “strong,” I write them as they come to me. No one has ever told me to make them all strong, which is good, because the moment someone asks me to write a type of character or type of story, I freeze up. If they turn out strong and readers like that, then great-but I’d never want to feel that was a requirement for the series.
Q. How would you pitch your books to someone who hasn’t yet read them?
A. Ack! I am SO bad at this. People come up to me at signing and challenge me to “convince” them to try one, and I just can’t do it. I usually say something like “they’re supernatural thrillers in a contemporary setting” More of a bland description than a pitch, isn’t it?
Q. Do you think you’ll ever write anything that doesn’t involve the supernatural?
A. One hundred percent sure . Which is easy to say, because it’s done and awaiting publication Aug 07. It’s a crime series about a hit woman, not to replace this one, but to shake things up for me as a writer.
Q. How do you manage to juggle writing with 3 kids?
A. It’s my full-time job, so it’s no different than it’d be for anyone working outside the home with three kids. The plus, though, is that I have all the advantages of being a stay-at-home mom because I work from home. No worries about before/after school care, sick days etc. I’ll admit that these days I put in more than 40 hour week, but I still get more time with my family I ever did working from a corporate cubicle an hour’s commute away!
Q. Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
A. Not nearly as much as I used to. The problem is that, between research, editing my work and reading other people’s work (as a favour or to potentially provide a quote) I do a lot of reading. So it’s tough to do it for pleasure. Audiobooks are a good solution for me.
As a reader, my tastes tend toward crime and thrillers. I’m in the middle of Barth Anderson’s “The Patron Saint of Plagues” right now.
Q. Which book do you wish you’d written?
A. Any that hit the New York Times #1 spot Seriously, though, I don’t often read a book and say “I wish I’d written that” because the books I admire are beautifully written, and I just don’t have that artistic talent when it comes to words. My style is very plain and straightforward. So I admire those books, but know I could never write like that. What I will do is read a book and say “I wish I’d had that idea first,” which happens a lot.
Q. Your latest book, Broken, involves a letter that may have written by Jack the Ripper. Is that a piece of crime history that interests you?
A. Jack the Ripper is one of the more fascinating unsolved cases out there. The idea for the book came from skimming an article on the case, and seeing a mention of the missing letter. The mystery behind that and the “From Hell” designation were enough to have me writing it down as a future plot spark.
Q. In your forth-coming book you hint at more interaction between Jaime and Jeremy. Is something your fans have been asking for?
A. At this point, the number of readers wanting to see more of these two outweighs those who don’t. When a relationship was first hinted at in Industrial Magic, reaction was split 50/50. Gradually the “pro Jaime and Jeremy” side has picked up. But that doesn’t mean a relationship is forthcoming-just a resolution to the question. I’m influenced by reader response, but I’m more influenced by negative than positive-had 90% of readers said “no Jaime and Jeremy” you’d never see it even if that was my intention, but if 90% say “yes Jaime and Jeremy,” I wouldn’t put them together if I hadn’t planned to.
Q. You’re very involved with your readers, and many of us have enjoyed your online e-fiction. Do you think it’s important for a writer to include their fans in this way, or is it just something you enjoy doing?
A. I think every writer makes his/her choices regarding reader interaction and book promotion. I know authors who’ll do none of it, and their sales suffer for it, but they’re okay with that. It’s a trade-off. I know authors who are at conferences two out of four weekends a month, meeting readers and getting their name out there. Again, that’s what works for them. Getting out and promoting my books isn’t easy for me with young kids. And it’s not really what I’m good at anyway. So I do what I am good at, which is my online stuff. Running my own site, answering email, participating in my message board…all a substitute for getting out, traveling and meeting readers. And the eFiction is just another aspect…though, admittedly, it’s probably the one I enjoy most!
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