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An Interview with Kelley Armstrong

Sunday, Jan 18, 2009 at 3:01pm

Kelley Armstrong, author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series of fantasy novels, will be at our Grant Park location for the launch of her latest book: Men of the Otherworld. Her stories are known for their strong and complex female heroines. Her latest book takes readers into the heads of two werewolves, Clayton and Jeremy. Kelley was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions in a brief email interview.

CG: How did you get your start as a writer? Did you labour in the short fiction market, or did you always intend to make it as a novelist?

KA: I've been writing since childhood. I did indeed start in short stories--they were the easiest form to tackle at a young age. I never grew up intending to be a writer. It was a dream, but in my family (quite rightly, I think) it was considered a hobby, not a career choice. As I reached my twenties, I began seriously thinking it'd be nice to write part-time. I sold my first novel at 30, and moved into full-time writing a couple of years later.

CG: According to your website, you didn't initially intend for the Otherworld to blossom into a series after Bitten was published. How much of the world building of which you reveal in Stolen, such as the existence of witches, demons, and vampires, was decided upon before you wrote the first novel?

KA: Only the werewolves. Stolen is a bit of a cheat. In Bitten, I have Elena (and apparently everyone else) believing they're the only supernaturals. Then in Stolen she "discovers" the truth--that there's a lot more out there--and the older characters had apparently heard such rumours. I could say I planned that all along, but I'd be lying. It was rapid back-pedaling when the publishers wanted a series and I didn't want to do a werewolf-only one.

CG: The Otherworld series is unusual in that you often shift narrators from novel to novel, rather than focusing entirely on one character. Could you explain to our readers why you've chosen this route?

KA: That was decided as soon as the publishers asked for a series. I discussed it with my agent and said I didn't want to do umpteen novels with the characters of Bitten. I love them, but after a few books, I'd been struggling to find fresh threats for them to face! It would get very repetitive very fast. So we came up with the idea of the wider supernatural world, and creating characters in Stolen I could spin off to as narrators. That has meant infinite possibilities for the series. I just returned to my werewolves for #10 and it was as much fun as #2. I wouldn't be saying that if it was book 10 of the werewolves!

CG: In addition to your novels of the Otherworld, you've tried your hand at crime fiction with Exit Strategy and now Young Adult Fantasy with The Summoning. What difficulties, if any, or changes did these deviations from your normal routine present?

KA: The challenges (good and bad) of the Exit Strategy series are that I need to work within the real world (well, as "real-world" as a novel about hit-men can get!). That's always fun, but it's also nice to return to the Otherworld, where I can just make stuff up. The YA was easier than I thought. The biggest challenge, as I expected, was getting into the head of a fifteen-year-old narrator. Having a daughter that age helped, though, and I found it surprisingly easy to conjure up my own teen years, and remember what it was like.

CG: Vampires have appeared in your novels but you have yet to use one as a narrator. Can vampire fans expect to see a novel about Cassandra, the vampire who debuted in Stolen?

KA: She will, but I keep putting it off because I don't have the right story. I find vampires the most difficult supernatural type to write. They've been done so often--and so well--that it's tough to contribute anything I think is fresh enough.

CG: In your latest book, Men of the Otherworld, you showcase the origins of your werewolves, Jeremy and Clayton. Your novels have all featured female narrators. Do you intend to write a novel from the point of view of one of your male characters?

KA:Three of the four stories in Men are actually older ones, from years of doing e-serials for readers. I added a new one for the collection and all my proceeds from the book go to World Literacy of Canada. But I do hope to use those stories to prepare my readers for a novel from a male point of view. With my latest contract, I was clear that I wanted to scrap the "Women of the Otherworld" title and any restrictions it carries.

CG: Men of the Otherworld introduces creatures from Japanese mythology. Have you considered expanding the Otherworld further beyond western mythology to include creatures and legends from other regions?

KA: I'd like to. One problem is that I've hit the point where I want to be careful not to add too many new types to the series. Not too quickly, at least. I still have current races I haven't really explored readers are constantly reminding me.

CG: In recent years, werewolves, vampires, and demons are as likely to be the heroes as the monsters in fantasy fiction. What do you think of this role reversal?

KA: I think it speaks to a shift in our interest in supernatural creatures. While they can still work as horror villains, there are far scarier things in the world than vampires. Readers seem to now be interested in the fantastical aspects of legendary creatures--what would it be like to be one? It's a form of fantasy that the average reader can relate to, having grown up with the idea of vampires, werewolves, etc.

CG: Many of your contemporaries in Urban Fantasy are seeing their creations take life in other media. Do you have any plans to translate the Otherworld from prose to comics or film?

KA: Not right now. With films, it's a matter of Hollywood coming to the author. I had that with Bitten, but the movie died in development as they often do. With comics, I'd be more interested in doing original ones than seeing my books translated, and translations are the preferred form right now, so instead, I'm writing a story arc for Joss Whedon's Angel comic series.

CG: After nine novels and many short stories do you find it difficult to keep the Otherworld accessible for new readers? What steps do you take to ensure the series remains open to new readership?

KA: Changing narrators makes this naturally easier. There's a good chance that the first book a reader picks up will be the first one narrated by that character (the last 3 have all been like that). Although other characters appear and past events are mentioned, it's the beginning of the true story for that character. I just need to be careful to fill in enough background on those characters and past events to keep new readers from getting lost, without having so much that it bores long-time readers. My editors are invaluable for helping with that--reminding me to add an explanatory line when I forget.

Categories: Interview, SciFi & Fantasy, Mystery & Crime, Romance

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Exit Strategy

- Kelley Armstrong

Trade paperback $10.99 - Add to Cart
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Popular fantasy author Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series) makes her first foray into crime fiction, with the debut of a series of non-paranormal novels featuring female assassin Nadia Stafford.

Nadia Stafford is one of the world's few female contract killers. A former cop, drummed out of the force because of a scandal, she is an expert at disguise and cool under pressure. But when fellow hitman Jack arrives on the scene, Nadia's very private existence is seriously challenged.

A series of victims are being murdered seemingly at random all over the country--different areas, different walks of life, different MOs. There is nothing to tie them together except a random page torn out of a single book: Helter Skelter. But does the Helter Skelter killer--as the hysterical media now dub him--have a real connection to Charles Manson? Or is there something even more sinister at work?

Is this, in fact--as Jack believes--the carefully planned exit strategy of a fellow professional killer, determined to leave the life, but equally determined to clear up an old mistake? And, if so, which is the real victim?

Now, the highly suspicious and secretive hitman community will have to break their cover--at least, to each other--and help take down this killer before the cops and the Feds discover his true connection to their own secret, exclusive society...

The Darkest Powers Series, Book 1

- Kelley Armstrong

Trade paperback $16.95 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $15.26

After years of frequent moves following her mother's death, Chloe Saunders's life is finally settling down. She is attending art school, pursuing her dreams of becoming a director, making friends, meeting boys. Her biggest concern is that she's not developing as fast as her friends are. But when puberty does hit, it brings more than hormone surges. Chloe starts seeing ghosts-everywhere, demanding her attention. After she suffers a breakdown, her devoted aunt Lauren gets her into a highly recommended group home.

At first, Lyle House seems a pretty okay place, except for Chloe's small problem of fearing she might be facing a lifetime of mental illness. But as she gradually gets to know the other kids at the home-charming Simon and his ominous, unsmiling brother Derek, obnoxious Tori, and Rae, who has a "thing" for fire-Chloe begins to realize that there is something that binds them all together, and it isn't your usual "problem kid" behaviour. And together they discover that Lyle House is not your usual group home either...

The Awakening

- Kelley Armstrong

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Book II in the Darkest Powers trilogy takes us deeper into a world where the supernatural intrudes on the everyday with riveting effect.

If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl - someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I'm as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment - not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a group of people who call themselves The Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I'm a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control: I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

I'm running for my life with three of my supernatural friends - a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch - and we have to find someone who can help us gain our freedom back before The Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

Dates From Hell

- Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands , Kelley Armstrong

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She thought her date was out of this world. Actually, he was not of this world . . .

We've all been on bad dates, nightmare dates, dreadful experiences that turned out to be uniquely memorable in the very worst way. But at least our partners for these detestable evenings were more or less . . . human!

Now Kim Harrison, Lynsay Sands, Kelley Armstrong, and Lori Handeland -- four of the very best writers currently exploring the dangerous seduction of the supernatural -- offer up dating disasters (and unexpected delights) of a completely different sort: dark, wicked, paranormally sensual assignations with werewolves, demon lovers, and the romantically challenged undead. Sexy, witty, chilling, and altogether remarkable, here is proof positive that some love matches are made someplace other than heaven.

Blood Lite

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The Horror Writers Association Presents


..a collection of entertaining tales that puts the fun back into dark fiction, with ironic twists and tongue-in-cheek wit to temper the jagged edge.

Charlaine Harris reveals the dark side of going green, when a quartet of die-hard environmentalists hosts a fundraiser with a gory twist in "An Evening with Al Gore"...In an all-new Dresden Files story from Jim Butcher, when it comes to tracking deadly paranormal doings, there's no such thing as a "Day Off" for the Chicago P.D.'s wizard detective, Harry Dresden...Sherrilyn Kenyon turns a cubicle-dwelling MBA with no life into a demon-fighting seraph with one hell of an afterlife in "Where Angels Fear to Tread"...Celebrity necromancer Jaime Vegas is headlining a sold-out séance tour, but behind the scenes, a disgruntled ghost has a bone to pick, in Kelley Armstrong's "The Ungrateful Dead." Plus tales guaranteed to get under your skin -- in a good way -- from

Janet Berliner Don D'Ammassa Nancy Holder Nancy KilpatrickJ. A. Konrath and F. Paul Wilson Joe R. Lansdale Will LudwigsenSharyn McCrumb Mark Onspaugh Mike Resnick Steven SavileD. L. Snell Eric James Stone Jeff Strand Lucien Soulban Matt Venne Christopher Welch

So let the blood flow and laughter reign -- because when it comes to facing our deepest, darkest fears, a little humor goes a long way!

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon

- P N Elrod

Trade paperback $25.99 - Add to Cart
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What newly married couple doesn't dream of a romantic retreat where they can escape the world for a while--but what happens when supernatural forces intrude on their wedded bliss?

Nine of today's hottest paranormal authors answer that question in this all-star collection of supernatural stories. Can a vampire-hunter enjoy her honeymoon when she's just learned that her new hubby is a werewolf? How can newlyweds focus on their wedding night when their honeymoon suite is haunted by feuding ghosts? And what's a wizard to do when a gruesome monster kidnaps the bride on her way home from the wedding?

With so much otherworldly mayhem awaiting our newlyweds, will they ever get around to the honeymoon itself? Find out in...My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon.

* Kelley Armstrong

* Jim Butcher

* Rachel Caine

* P.N. Elrod

* Caitlin Kittredge

* Marjorie M. Liu

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* Lilith Saintcrow

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