BR: Please tell our members as little bit about yourself and ONE thing (about yourself) that none of your fans would know about! There is not a lot of ‘accurate’ information about Kelley Armstrong on the web.
KA: I’m the author of the "Women of the Otherworld" paranormal suspense series and "Darkest Powers/Darkness Rising" young adult urban fantasy series, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. I grew up in Southwestern Ontario, where I still live with my family. I’m a former computer programmer, but I have escaped my corporate cubicle and hope never to return.
As for something about myself that my readers don’t know, by this point, that’d be really tough, mostly because I’ve had similar questions asked often enough that everything of mild interest is already out there J So I’d need to resort to the random and mundane, like “My favourite vegetable is asparagus.”
BR: You are probably asked this question, with every interview, but the answer is always of interest to our members. How and why did you become a writer? Who or what was your inspiration into the field of writing?
KA: I've been writing since childhood. I was an early reader and very quickly wanted to tell my own stories. 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. So I gave up and concentrated on improving. In 1999, I sold Bitten, which became my first published novel, but wasn’t my first novel.
I think what inspired me was the opportunity to tell my own stories. As a child, I started writing because I loved reading, and writing meant I could make up the stories I wanted to hear. Part of that still holds true today...although I'm no longer the only one reading them!
BR: Describe a ‘typical day’ for Kelley Armstrong. Do you have a routine that you follow? Are there specific things that you do to get the creative juices flowing?
KA: A typical writing day starts at about 5:30. I work until I get my kids up, then send them off on the bus at 7:30. I usually write most of the morning and into the early afternoon, then spend the rest of the afternoon doing business stuff. I stop when the kids return…or try to, if my schedule allows.
If I’m not travelling I do most of my writing in my office, which is comfortable, but not too comfortable. For me it has to be an efficient work environment where I can work without distractions. So it’s in the basement, where it’s quiet and there isn’t a window or anything to drag my attention out of the story.
WOMEN OF THE OTHERWORLD SERIES
BR: The Women of the Otherworld Series, has such vibrant, funny and independent women…..Elena, Hope, Paige, Jaime, Eve and now Savannah.
a) Are any of these women, compilations or characterizations of ‘real’ women?
b) Do you consider yourself, similar in nature or attitude, to one of your female characters? Male characters?
c) What inspired you to write the Women of the Otherworld series?
KA: All my characters have a trait or two in common with me. That just makes them easier to write. With Elena, she's my age, from my geographic area, with my education level, etc, which made it easy for me to get into her head as my first narrator. Paige and I share a common interest in computers (I was a programmer) so I could easily write that part of her life and personality. Eve and I both have daughters around the same age, so that part of her character came naturally. But no character (primary or secondary) is actually modelled after myself or anyone I know. They're all a collection of traits from many sources.
Elena is closest to me in what I call the "socio-economic factors." Same age, same educational background, similar careers (writing), grew up in the same geographic region... That made it easier for me. After that I branched out more. Personality-wise, though? We have some traits in common, but not a lot.
The inspiration for Bitten came from an X-Files episode. I enjoyed the show, but I didn't like their portrayal of werewolves and wrote a short story about a female werewolf of the type I preferred, which I later turned into Bitten.
BR: The Men of the Otherworld anthology, reveals plenty of background information regarding the early years with Jeremy, Clay and Malcolm, as well as some of the other pack members. Was it difficult to write about Jeremy’s relationship with Malcolm? Have you considered writing a story about Jeremy and Malcolm-the early years?
KA: I knew their backstories while writing Bitten, so these were easy to write. At one point, I’d written a short story from Jeremy’s point of view, about Malcolm, but it didn’t really add anything to either character, so I put it aside and have no idea where it is now!
BR: Karl Marsten, was originally one of the ‘bad guys’ in the earlier novels, but you have ‘redeemed’ his character, with a mate (Hope Adams) and a child (on the way). What was your decision to pull Karl from the ‘dark side’ or had you planned to redirect his pathway from the onset?
KA: He was supposed to die in Bitten—at first near the beginning, then at the end. But I decided he was a character I could do a lot more with, so I kept him, though it was 6 books before I found another spot for him.
BR: Jaime Vegas is one of the most intriguing women in your series. Independent, headstrong and sexually sure of herself, yet you paired her with Jeremy Danvers, a quiet, reclusive, reluctant alpha. The match is perfect. Their chemistry was explosive in the novel, No Humans Involved. Tell us something about your decision to put together this couple.
KA: What’s important to me is that a character chooses the partner who is right for her. While Jeremy and Jaime are less compatible on the surface than my other couples, they complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses well.
BR: Kristof Nast, Eve Levine and Savannah. In the anthology, Tales of the Otherworld, the novella Bewitched, tells the story of Kristof and Eve’s relationship. It was difficult to read about the Nast family control and interference in the relationship between Kristof and Eve, especially, knowing that Kristof was never aware of his only daughter. Many women, in today’s world, still suffer rejection by their lover’s and family for similar reasons. Was it difficult to write this storyline? What was your inspiration for this story?
KA: I think the thing that makes difficult backstories easy to write is that I know that things turn out well eventually :-) I can write the painful parts and feel the character’s pain, but I can also look forward and know it’ll be okay—and know that readers already know this as they’re reading the backstory. As for my inspiration for this one, it’s the same as with the werewolf ones—I already knew Eve’s whole story when I first created her character.
BR: Clay, Elena, Jeremy, Antonio and Nick are some of the more popular characters in the Otherworld series. All werewolves, all the time (smiles). You wrote a small online story regarding Nick and his encounter with a werewolf stalker, and have revealed a small amount of information regarding Nick’s conception and Antonio’s first love. Why have you never written a novella regarding Nick’s parents? Have you considered writing a love story for Nick?
KA: Writing that novella would be harder, because I know it didn’t end well. It’s still painful for Antonio and there’s no way to “fix” that for him now. As for Nick, he’s not interested in a long-term partner right now :-)
BR: Speaking of love stories, you have said that you find it difficult to write sex scenes....that you do not write erotica. Do you consider sex scenes necessary in adult story lines? Comments?
KA: As an adult, I like to read stories with a romantic subplot. So when I write, that's what comes naturally. The erotic component varies with the characters--in keeping with what I imagine for them. They aren’t necessary for every character or plot line.
BR: Savannah and Adam….Spellbound….finally. Their ‘relationship’ throughout the series has been fraught with so much angst: Adam oblivious to Savannah’s feelings: Savannah’s inability to express herself to the man she has been in love with for so many years. Why did you wait so long, to write a love story involving Adam and Savannah? Had you planned on the Adam/Savannah pairing from the beginning, when the characters first me in Stolen? Will we see the culmination of this long awaited match with your final book in the Otherworld series?
KA: I’ve never been completely certain where this was leading. I’ve allowed the characters to develop and see where it goes. The age difference really is a big issue. It helps that Adam isn’t exactly “old” for his age, maturity-wise, but Savannah needs to do some maturing herself to close that gap. Whether that happens…remains to be seen!
BR: You said recently your goal was to eventually end the series with Savannah. Why end with Savannah and not the werewolves, who were your original characters?
KA: I’d always planned to cap the series with a Savannah trilogy. I chose her because she’d grown up in the series and is the most connected to all the other narrators. Elena and the others will be in the final book.
BR: The Otherworld Series, will soon be coming to a close, but you have said, that you will continue to write some short stories, anthologies, novellas and compilations of some of your previous online stories and e-reads. HIDDEN (release date December 2011) will be your next novella in the Otherworld series. What can we expect from Elena, Clay and the twins? Jeremy and the rest of the pack?
KA: I just finished an Elena/Clay story and I’m working on a Jaime/Jeremy one. There will be more to come as I see what holes I’ve left in the series.
BR: You had introduced several potential new storylines with the revelation of Noah, Reese and the Russian werewolves in Frostbitten. Now that the series is drawing to a close, there does not appear to be any possibility of their stories. Will you write a future novella involving the young adult werewolves?
KA: I have a Reese story planned, and there’s a Nick/Noah/Reese one coming out in an anthology next year. Plus there’s always the possibility of a future novel, if an idea strikes and won’t go away.
BR: WE have heard that your final installment in the Otherworld series is titled Thirteen and is to be released July 2012. What is the significance of the title “Thirteen?” And will there be a reunion in Thirteen of all of our favorite characters, say perhaps, at a wedding? :-)
KA: It’s book 13 in the series, so we decided on that as a title. It’s different enough to help readers realize this is a significant book, not just the next in the series. All the characters do return in it.
NADIA STAFFORD SERIES
BR: How did you come up with a complex character like Nadia Stafford?
KA: I'm always looking for a challenge in characters--creating one who isn't necessarily the obvious, lovable heroine. That is indeed divisive for readers, though, so I always know I'm taking a risk. But I'm not really interested in the easy heroines. With Nadia, I wanted to develop a character who could reasonably be a hit woman, which definitely isn’t easy!
BR: The tension in Nadia and Jack’s relationship is sometimes palpable, and can keep the reader frustrated, banging our heads against the wall, asking ....come on? Comments? (smiles)
KA: No comment :-)
BR: You have said, that the Nadia Stafford series will end with the third novel. Will the reader see the relationship between Nadia and Jack into fruition? Did you ever consider Quinn as Nadia’s main man?
KA: Nadia’s choice will depend on which one provides more of what she needs. Which isn’t the answer you wanted, is it?
BR: Will you give us any information about your third and last installment in the Nadia Stafford series? Have you chosen a title?
KA: I’m at the stage of discussing it with my publisher. I’d had some thoughts of just doing an ebook original on my own, but…they’d rather I didn’t go that route. So it’s under discussion and hopefully we can come to an agreement, so there will be a third Nadia in the near future.
THE DARKEST POWERS/DARKNESS RISING SERIES
BR: You have written both adult contemporary and young adult story lines. Which type of ‘genre’ is more difficult for you to write? What are the different guidelines before a YA novel crosses the line into an adult novel?
KA: The only real difference is the age of the characters. However, while I cover a lot of narrator ages in my adult series, teens ARE a lot different. There’s the language of course—making the characters sound like teens. But the bigger issue is, well, the issues. When I’m writing adults, whether they’re 25 or 45, they’re dealing with a similar set of issues (jobs, finances, marriage & children) Teens are at a different place in their lives and the characters need to reflect that.
BR: Is the marketing strategy any different for your YA books than for your adult series?
KA: Marketing to teens is a little different, but with YA, a decent portion of the audience is adult, so the marketing of the series overall doesn’t change significantly. I’m just more careful not to “forget” the teen component of the audience. For example, teens are more likely to be on Facebook than Twitter, so I make sure all the YA Twitter announcements are duplicated on the FB page. I also had a separate site done for the YA. All the books—including the YA—are on my main site, but I’m careful about not wanting to sound like I’m pushing my adult books on my younger teen audience. So those books have a separate site, too (www.DarkestPowers.com) which is the one the publisher uses in marketing.
BR: The character of Maya is adopted. You have handled the situation with grace and the portrayal of her adoptive family is a pleasure to read. So many writers have chosen to manipulate the storylines of adoptions with abuse and neglect. What was your mitigating factor in writing the adoption storyline into the novel? Did you research adoptions before writing this series?
KA: Having her be adopted solved a few problems with her backstory. I can’t say too much about that, because it would be a major spoiler for those who haven’t read the book, but let’s just say that if these were her birth parents, they’d be responsible for something that was done to her, and that would have added a layer of conflict that I already dealt with in the Darkest Powers trilogy, with Chloe. Here, I wanted to avoid that. I also wanted to show a solid, loving adoptive family. Growing up, all the kids I knew who were adopted had good experiences. I don’t see enough of that in fiction. For research, I had to look into a few issues with Native adoption, but otherwise, I went with what I’ve seen with adopted friends.
BR: You have said that you are currently writing a NEW adult series (with supernatural elements) to be released following the closure of the Otherworld series. Will you give us any hints as to the premise or the supernatural beings involved with the series? Are the main characters strong, independent women, similar to your other series?
KA: It’s called the Omens & Shadows series and will begin in 2013. I haven’t said a lot about it so far—I know readers are still focused on the Otherworld series. It’s almost 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. Lighter elements, though—omens, portents, second sight and Celtic folklore rather than werewolves and witches.
BR: What other books are you currently working on? Have you considered co-authoring a book or series?
KA: I’m trying middle grade next, having recently sold a Norse-myth-based trilogy that’ll be co-written with Melissa Marr.
Who would make a better alpha…Jeremy or Elena? Jeremy at this point.
Boxers, Briefs or Commando? Boxers.
Dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Dark.
Favourite (favorite) restaurant? Any good steak house.
Favourite (favorite) food? Chocolate chip cookies.
Who cooks at home? You or your husband? Mostly my husband these days.
Jeremy or Antonio? To write about? Jeremy. Neither would suit me otherwise :-)
Clay or Nick? Writing? Clay. Neither otherwise.
Who do you believe is the stronger female character: Elena, Eve or Jaime? Depends on the situation being faced :-)
Who is your muse? Er…pass.
Are any of the female characters similar to Kelly Armstrong? If so, who? None!
Are any of the male characters similar to your husband? If so, who? Ditto—none. I’m always been very careful never to base characters on people I know.
Winter in Canada or winter in Florida? 50/50
If you could go any where in the world for a romantic evening, where would you go? Someplace I’ve never been.
What do you do when you are not writing? Reading, watching movies, cooking, hiking, camping and just hanging out with my family.
Red or Pink roses? Red