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Interview with author Kelley Armstrong
Posted By Flames On November 3, 2005 @ 5:32 pm In Interviews | 2 Comments
I’ve been writing since childhood, but my “career” was launched when a writing instructor recommended my novel, Bitten, to an agent. She offered the represent me, and it’s been smooth sailing since then.
My biggest piece of advice is: practice, practice, practice. Sounds simple, but I know too many new writers who have written very little considering how long they’ve wanted to write. They’re busy learning, not wanting to write too much until they know more about the craft. You need to write, and write a lot. Learning is great–taking courses, reading books–but you’ll learn more from them if you do it as you go.
It’s a series of interconnected paranormal suspense novels. The first two (Bitten and Stolen) are narrated by a werewolf, the next two (Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic) by a witch and the fifth (Haunted) by a ghost. With #6, I’m back to my werewolf narrator, Elena Michaels.
Not a lot of research on the paranormal parts. I do most of my research on the other aspects of the novels–wolf behaviour, witch hunts, demonology, historical murder cases…whatever the current story is about.
New narrators are always a challenge because I write this series in the first-person. That means when I switch narrators, I need to develop a new “voice” for them, a way of speaking to the reader. The challenge is to make sure they don’t all sound alike! Of my characters, vampires are the toughest “race” to write for me. Vampires are so common in fiction. They’ve been done so often and so well that it’s difficult to bring anything new to the genre.
My werewolves are the easiest, probably because I’ve been working with them since the first book. The more recently I’ve “explored” a race, the tougher it is, because I’m still fleshing it out. With the werewolves, though, I have their mythology down pat.
Every year I do an online fiction “offering” with free monthly installments. For the first two years, I did novellas, posting a chapter a month. Both were prequels to my werewolf novels. This year, I’m doing short stories, one a month, on topics or characters chosen by readers. Right now I’m polling for the topic of my 2006 offering, which will be a novella again. It’s a fun way to offer readers free stories, from my world, between the published books.
Ah, that’s a tough one. I find most retailers consider it a genre, while readers think “mood”…and can’t understand why my books get shelved in the Horror section. To the booksellers, if it has werewolves, ghosts, etc, it’s obviously “horror.” But there’s nothing “horrifying” about my books–beyond the occasional disturbing plotline or scene. I tend to side with the “mood” view. Horror, to me, should be scary. By that token, my books are urban fantasy, but do I want them in the fantasy section of the bookstore, with LotR-style books and high fantasy? No, because everyone else in my genre is over in Horror. I always joke that I don’t care where I’m shelved, as long as it’s in the same section as Laurell K Hamilton…I could use some of her readers.
I’ll recommend the classics. In particular, Dracula, Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. These form the basis for what we think of when we consider vampires, “monsters” and shapeshifters, and they still have plenty of chills for modern readers, embedded in well-written stories.
I’m just starting book 7 in the Otherworld series. I’m also finishing a crime novel that I’ve sold as part of a two-book deal to–hopefully–launch a new series (in addition to the Otherworld, not as a replacement).
Check out www.kelleyarmstrong.com  for the latest news on upcoming novels and online fiction.
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URLs in this post:
 www.kelleyarmstrong.com: http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/
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