Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest New York Times Best-Selling Author, Kelley Armstrong, a prolific fantasy and crime author with a global following.
Kelley is widely acclaimed for her 13-volume Women of the Otherworld Series, whose characters inspired the TV series Bitten, and her Nadia Stafford crime novels.
She is also the author of the hit e-serialized crime novel City of the Lost, three bestselling young adult trilogies, and the stand-alone YA suspense thriller, The Masked Truth.
Norm: Good day Kelley and thanks for participating in our interview.
Why do you write? Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books?
Kelley: I love telling stories. It really is as simple as that. If there is a goal for my fiction, it is to entertain. Readers can find messages if they want to, but I don’t deliberately insert them—I leave that for literary fiction.
Norm: What do you consider to be your greatest success (or successes) so far in your career?
Kelley: To me, my greatest success is the fact that I got published…and that I’ve stayed published for fifteen years now. That alone is an accomplishment. I see many talented writers who never get their foot in the door, as well as many who get a start, but aren’t able to find the readership they need to stay published.
Norm: Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Kelley: For ideas, half the time I don't even know where they originate. They come from everywhere: newspaper and magazine articles, a chance comment, a blurb for a new movie or just random “what if” thoughts. For information, research. Tons of research.
Norm: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Kelley: I’m constantly learning new things as I research my books. There is always something I don’t know and need to look up, and the answer is often both surprising and useful. I recently wanted to research the Welsh version of Halloween (Nos Galan Gaeaf) for a short story, and the sheer breadth of the customs gave me entirely new idea for my story.
Norm: Could you tell us about people or books you have read that have inspired you to embark on your own career as a writer?
Kelley: Susie Moloney definitely inspired me, not personally, but through her own success. I was writing my first book (Bitten) at the time that her very successful second novel (A Dry Spell) came out, and suddenly, in the news, I was seeing a Canadian woman who wrote supernatural fiction. It helped me think that my 'dream' might not be as far-fetched as I thought.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive? As a follow up, what are common mistakes you see aspiring writers make?
Kelley: The best advice I ever got was to keep writing—to expect rejection and not to see unsuccessful projects as failures but as practice. That’s what kept me going until I sold my first book.
I don’t know that I’ve ever had destructive advice. I’ve just had advice that’s wrong for me (don’t use prologues, don’t write in first person etc).
One mistake I see aspiring writers make is not crafting an engaging opening chapter. They info-dump as much as they can on the world and the characters rather than hooking the reader and getting the story moving forward.
Norm: What helps you focus when you write and do you find it easy reading back your own work?
Kelley: I don’t have a problem with focus. I’ve been doing this long enough that I just have to open my laptop and fire up Scrivener, and I’m ready. I love reading back my own work because that’s editing—it’s my chance to make it better.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing and do you have a specific writing style?
Kelley: I’m sure my environment and upbringing had some impact on my writing, but it’s not readily apparent. My style is very casual, conversational, which is why first person works best for me.
Norm: Could you tell our readers a little about your most recent book Betrayals?
Kelley: It’s the fourth book in the Cainsville series.
If readers are interested, I would strongly suggest trying the first book (Omens) instead.
The basic concept for the series is a privileged young woman discovers she’s adopted…and the child of convicted serial killers. She flees the media and ends up in a very strange small town with connections to her forgotten past.
Norm: Why have you been drawn to fantasy thrillers and what is a fantasy thriller? Does it have a particular form?
Kelley: I've always been fascinated by stories with a paranormal angle. Fantasy has such a capacity for creativity--the eternal "what if?" of storytelling. A fantasy thriller is simply a thriller with fantasy elements. The main plot is mystery—each of the Cainsville novels features a murder that the protagonist must solve—but there are also fantasy elements—in this case, Welsh folklore, omens, portents and second sight.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Kelley: MY WEBSITE and covers all my work, including opening chapters of each book.
Norm: What is next for Kelley Armstrong?
Kelley: I’ve started a new thriller series, as Cainsville winds down (book 5 will be the last.) I’m currently editing the second book of that—the first one, City of the Lost, came out earlier this year.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Kelley: I think you’ve covered everything! Thanks for the interview!
Norm: Thanks again and good luck with all of your future endeavors