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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interview with Kelley Armstrong

If you're a fan of paranormal then you have undoubtedly read Kelley Armstrong - one of the Urban Fantasy pioneers. Her series is epic and extraordinary, and currently standing at 12 books deep (with a final 13th slated for 2012)

In this interview I ask some tough questions, about the future of 'Otherworld' and the reappearance of Chloe!

So, without further ado, I present to you - Kelley Armstrong!

Q: How were you first published - agent or slush pile?

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 Within a couple of months I went from being unpublished to having multiple book contracts. Definitely agent for me then. I don’t think I could ever have been plucked from the slush pile!

Q: ‘Bitten’ was first released in 2001 – which means you’re one of the pioneering supernatural authors who really got the ball rolling with vampires and werewolves! Were you already a fan of all things paranormal, or did you start reading in the genre after you got the idea for ‘Bitten’?

I've been interested in the paranormal since early childhood. I often jokingly blame Scooby Doo for setting me on the path, but that was probably my first exposure to werewolves, vampires and things that go bump in the night.

Q: Why ‘Women of the Otherworld?' I know you released the wonderful ‘Men of the Otherworld’ anthology in 2009, but what was it initially about the women’s supernatural stories that held more interest for you over their male counterparts?

It was more of a natural decision than a conscious one. With first person narrative, I'm most comfortable writing it from a woman's point of view. I've always been wary of taking on the "voice" of someone too different from myself--in gender, age, socioeconomic background etc--so when I started this series, I didn't consider using a male voice. I've done it since--with other works—and have for years just called it “The Otherworld.” The official title changed with the latest contract, though it was a quiet change :)

Q: With each new ‘Otherworld’ installment the universe grows. From werewolves to vampires, demon to necromancers. Are there any supernatural species that we haven’t met yet, but are still waiting in the wings?

With only one Otherworld book to go, I've hit the point where it really is too late to add more supernatural types. Instead, I’ve begun to explore that in the spin-off YA series (with a plot about resurrecting “extinct” supernatural types.)

Q: ‘Otherworld’ is one of the best ensemble paranormal series. Apart from your protagonist narrators, the books also offer a plethora of beloved secondary characters, and quite a few of them have strong fan-followings. What’s the likelihood that you’ll ever give Nick or Antonio a full-length book? Or even newest pack members, Reese and Noah?

The Otherworld will end (or go on hiatus) with book 13. I do hope to write more stories—and maybe even a future novel or two—but I’m ending the book-a-year schedule. If I do write more, though, you can be sure I’d do more with the secondary Pack members.

Q: Savannah Levine is a veteran of the ‘Otherworld’ series – having first appeared in book #2, ‘Stolen’. But you let her ‘cook’, so to speak. You didn’t pull a soap-opera time lapse and have her suddenly grow up in order to narrate. How hard was it for you to keep putting off writing her story and wait for her right moment?

I’ve long planned to end the series with a Savannah trilogy. I wasn’t sure exactly how old she’d be, though. At one point, I figured 19 or so, but as I drew closer to that age for her, I realized she wasn’t ready.

Q: ‘Spell Bound’ ends on such an emotional and drama-packed cliff-hanger. Things are stirring in the Otherworld, and Savannah is certainly gearing up for a showdown! Can you give us a little itty-bitty hint about what’s to come in the next book?

I’m going to answer that with a quote from the book that one of my editors pulled out as a good summation. “Anything you thought you knew about our world? Forget it. Someone has tossed out the rulebook. Ghosts can cross the divide. Hell-hounds can manifest. Demi-demons can possess living children And it’s not going to get any better until it’s over.” As you might guess from that, 13 is my Otherworld upheaval book, when everyone comes together to fight the biggest threat they’ve faced.

Q: You are currently contracted through to book thirteen (to be released next year). And you’ve said that three factors will determine whether or not you continue beyond the thirteenth installment – the readers, your publisher and whether or not you’re willing to write more. How are those factors looking at the moment? What’s the likelihood that we’ll get a book fourteen, or more?

I’d always planned to end at 13, but when I did my last contract, I’d begun to think maybe I’d go farther—hence that comment. I later realized that I really should end it when I’d planned to. Better to end on a high note rather than several books after I’m out of ideas.

Q: In 2008 you released the extremely popular ‘Darkest Powers’ YA trilogy. What prompted you to cross-over into the Young Adult market, and what has been the biggest challenge in changing your audience?

I had an idea inspired by my second adult novel, Stolen, but it was about supernaturals just coming into their powers, which in my world happens at puberty. That wouldn't work for an adult series. That idea was in the back of my mind as I began receiving an increasing number of emails from readers I considered too young to be reading my other books! So I decided to give my YA idea a try.

The biggest challenge was that I'm a whole lot older than my main character. As a teen, I hated it when adults tried to write in a teen voice and it was painfully obvious that they were on the wrong side of thirty. Having a daughter in the right age group made that easier--I had a built-in focus group.

Q: You’ve given a very good reason for not having much overlap between the ‘Darkest Powers’ and ‘Otherworld’ series’ (even though they’re based in the same universe and minor references have been made). You don’t want the adult ‘Otherworld’ characters swooping in and saving your ‘Powers’ kids. Why do you think that it’s so important for children to be their own saviors in the YA genre?

It’s important for any protagonist in any book to be their own saviors. They can have help. In fact, I prefer it if they do have help, which is more realistic. Ultimately, though, the protagonist should be instrumental in solving their own problem, regardless of whether they are a child, a teen or an adult.

Q: You’ve hinted on your website that you might not be done with Chloe and Co., even though her ‘Darkest Powers’ trilogy concluded and you’re now in the thick of ‘Darkness Rising’. Are you thinking of pulling Chloe, Derek, Simon and Tori out for a cameo – or another full-length book?

They will definitely get another book. They’re reintroduced in the last book of the Darkness Rising trilogy (book 6 overall) and I’m contracted for 3 more after that.

Q: You’ve also written a fantastic non-supernatural series in ‘Nadia Stafford’ – about a hit woman. The second book came out in 2009; do you have any plans to write more?

I’m planning to write the third one soon, probably as a direct-to-ebook project. My current schedule is so jam-packed that I’m reluctant to add another traditionally published book, but I do want to finish the story and character arc. Self-publishing in e-book might be the best way to do that.

Q: You’re one paranormal author whose really embraced the graphic novel extension of your book series, with ‘Becoming’ and ‘Hidden’. What’s the appeal of graphic novels for you and your storytelling?

Of all the forms of storytelling I like novels the best, because it's the least restrictive. But I'd go nuts if I couldn't write anything except novels. I have to mix it up with other forms, because it keeps me challenged and keeps things fresh. Graphic stories give me a rare chance to see my world come to life visually.

Q: 2013 is shaping up to be a very interesting year for you and your readers! You have two new books slated for release – ‘Omens and Shadows’ and ‘The Blackwell Pages’ (with the incredible Melissa Marr). Are these both serials or stand-alone? Are they YA or adult? And most importantly – can you tell us a little bit about the plot for one or both?

Omens & Shadows is a cross between the Otherworld and my Nadia Stafford books, which means the plots are more heavily mystery, but unlike Nadia, there are some paranormal elements. They are lighter elements, though—omens, portents, second sight rather than werewolves and witches.

The Blackwell Pages is a middle-grade trilogy based on Norse mythology. The main characters are pre-teens, distantly descended from the dead gods.

Q: Favourite book(s) of all time?

I usually say that my favourite is Pride & Prejudice, but only because I have so many that it's hard to choose one! Others include Watership Down by Richard Adams and anything by Stephen King.

Q: Favourite author(s)?

Like favourite book, my favourite writer changes all the time, but the one who was my favourite for the longest length of time is Stephen King. I've been reading him since high school.

Q: What advice do you have for budding young writers?

Keep writing. It’s boring advice, but it really is the most important thing, I think. You need to love writing and keep at it, always practicing and writing new things, even if you don’t get published quickly (most authors don’t)


  1. Thanks so much for asking all these hard hitting q's!

    Kelley`s was one of the first Paranormal series I read and I LOVE it SO freaking much!

    Im a HUGE fan!


  2. Awesome interview. It's always good to get to know more about authors :)

  3. What a great interview! I love Kelley Armstrong's books and have been collecting and reading them since 2005.

    I always did wonder why Chloe and co never had any contact with the pack and I know when reading them that I wanted them to come into contact with them and help them. Now I know why!

  4. Great interview. Can I just say how super happy I am to hear we will be getting a third Nadia Stafford book. This series is so good and seriously under valued. I love the characters and how they straddle ethical lines.

  5. I need to get me some K. Armstrong. Been reading a lot of good reviews on her books. So many books so little time!

  6. Great post! Great review!

  7. I love the Otherworld series but I wasn't aware of all the other things Ms. Armstrong has going on - wow, I'm going to have to check it out. Great interview!

  8. Fantastic interview. I've enjoyed Ms. Armstrong previously before, and I am looking to getting back into the Otherworld series.


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