Best-selling author Kelley Armstrong answers my questions about writing, werewolves and the Women of the Otherworld and tells us more about her upcoming books…
Hi Kelley, thank you for being on “Veronika Asks” for the October special! First, would you please introduce yourself to our readers? How would you describe yourself in three words?
I’m the author of the “Women of the Otherworld” paranormal suspense series, “Darkest Powers” YA urban fantasy trilogy, and the Nadia Stafford crime series. I grew up in Ontario, Canada, where I still live with my family. A former computer programmer, I’ve now escaped my corporate cubicle and hope never to return.
How would I describe myself in three words? Averse to normality.
“Frostbitten”, the tenth novel in the “Women of the Otherworld” series is on stores this month. Can you tell us more about it?
It returns to my first and most popular heroine, werewolf Elena Michaels. Together with her husband, she goes to Alaska to warn a young werewolf that he’s in trouble…and gets into a whole lot of trouble herself.
Can we have a few tiny spoilers about the 11th “Otherworld” book? Some hints, maybe…
It’s done, so I can give a few hints <grin> The narrator is Savannah Levine, who has grown up over the course of the series, having first appeared in Stolen at the age of 12. In book 11 (Waking the Witch) she’s 21 and gets her first investigation.
And in December 2009 comes out “Angelic”, a short novella (in limited edition!)… What is it about, why a novella and why in limited edition?
I don’t get a lot of opportunity to publish novellas and I have a lot of ideas that just aren’t novel length. The requests I get are for anthologies where they want a specific theme, meaning I can’t use one of my ideas! With Subterranean Press, I get the chance to write about anything I want–in this case, it’s an Eve Levine story. They do a fancy hardcover edition with four original full-colour illustrations, which is why it’s a limited edition. I did a short story for them last year and was thrilled with the result.
Why did you choose to write about witches, vampires and werewolves? How was the “Otherworld” series born?
I love writing paranormal fiction. I’ve been fascinated by the supernatural since childhood. When Bitten sold, the plan was to follow up with another stand-alone supernatural thriller. Then my publishers suggested turning it into a series. I loved the idea, but couldn’t imagine a whole series on Elena so I introduced other supernatural types in Stolen.
You’re now a New York Times bestselling author. Do you remember how it all started? Can you tell us more about your “Want my book published” quest?
I’ve been writing all my life. In my twenties I started working on novels, and would sporadically send out query letters and sample chapters, but never got anything more than a form letter rejection. When I finished Bitten, I had an instructor look at it, to see how well I was progressing. He offered to recommend it to an agent, and things happened very quickly from there. Within a couple of months I went from being unpublished to having multiple book contracts. So it was a long empty road, with a very quick stop at the end!
How do you explain such a success? Why do you think paranormal novels are so popular nowadays?
I wish I knew! I’ve heard many theories floated, but I suspect it’s just the cyclical nature of the medium. Paranormal books come into fashion, then fade out, and after they’ve been gone a while, people are hungry for them again.
How do you work? Do you have a few rituals or habits that help you?
I don’t really have any rituals or habits. That’s a necessity for me. With a full household of husband, kids and pets, I need to be able to jump into writing at a moment’s notice. If I could only write at certain times, under certain circumstances, I’d be in big trouble. My basic routine is to start when they kids go to school and work (writing, editing, outlining, etc) until they come home, then get things like business done after dinner and on weekends. It’s not a regular 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday job–I can say that much!
What do you think is the perfect “paranormal fiction” cocktail?
I’m not sure there is one. I know what works for me as a reader–fast-pacing, high action, humour, light romance and good world-building.
If you had a magic wand, how would you use it?
That’s one of those questions that requires a big answer, like the kind they give in beauty pageants. Bring world peace, end world hunger…
I see there’s a Role Playing Game devoted to the “Otherworld”. If you could live in the “Otherworld”, who would you be?
Which character? None. LOL There’s not one of my characters I’d trade lives with. Now, if you forced me to become one, I’d pick Elena, mainly because we share a lot of superficial qualities–same age, similar educational background, Canadian, married, kids.
Is there a book you wish you’d written?
Oh, there are lots! At least a few times a year, I pick up a book and think “I wish I could write like that.” I know my strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and I envy anyone whose strengths are my weaknesses.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished my fourth young adult novel, and I’m currently proofreading the third–The Reckoning–which comes out in May.
Do you want to add something (or perhaps wish a happy Halloween to our readers? While we’re at it, do you celebrate it and how?)?
Yes, a huge Happy Halloween to all. It’s always been a favourite holiday of mine. I used to decorate my parents’ house with a front yard cemetery, tableau in the garage etc. Unfortunately, where I live now, we’re lucky to get one trick-or-treater a year–it’s a rural area and religiously conservative (many kids don’t go out for Halloween)
Finally, the “Nothing-to-do-with-books-question”: you’ve found $100, how will you use your newly acquired money?
Books of course!
Author & Book: Richard Adams, Watership Down
Movie & TV show: The Princess Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Music: Just regular top-forties rock/pop
Place to write: Curled up in a recliner
Quote or Motto: Mae West quote: When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.
“Tea or Coffee?”
Tea or Coffee? Coffee.
Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Home with books and DVDs
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? Mountains
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megapolis? Hmmm, prefer rural life, but if it had to be urban, I’d go with the big city
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Weepy Drama? Not really keen on either…
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Both. I like travelling for business/pleasure, but I don’t like moving permanently
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? Couch potato
Leader or Follower? Leader (I’m bossy)
Shy or Easy-going? Shy
Serious or Funny? Both
Thank you, Kelley!
You can learn more about Kelley Armstrong and her books at http://kelleyarmstrong.com/