By Ashley Janes
Photo Credit Kathryn-Hollinrake
Morinville – Bestselling author Kelley Armstrong will be speaking at the Morinville Community Library from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26. Well known for her Women of the Otherworld series and her best-selling Darkest Power trilogy, Armstrong is embarking on a fall national tour to deliver author talks about writing and publishing popular fiction. In the following interview, she discusses her inspirations, past success, and future endeavours:
Q: Some authors have explained that inspiration is like a bolt of lightning, an idea for a book just pops into their head one day and they start writing. Others have said their thoughts have to cook like a stew until the story is the perfect temperature, and only then will they begin to write. In what way did your first book, Bitten, come to you? Was it lightning or stew, or something entirely different?
A: The idea was sparked by an X-Files episode on werewolves. I didn’t like their interpretation (a man-killing wolf-like monster) and for a writer, that’s inspiration. I decided to try my own interpretation of the folklore, with an emphasis on their wolf nature.
Q: The same year you published the ninth title in your Women of the Otherworld series, you began writing your Darkest Powers trilogy. What inspired you to begin writing YA fiction? Which classification, Adult or YA, has posed the greater challenge for you as a writer? Which, would you say, is more fun? Do you differentiate, or is writing the same for you in either classification?
A: 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, and that wouldn’t work for an adult series. That idea was in the back of my mind as my preteen daughter began asking about my adult books! So I decided to write a YA series set in the same fictional universe.
There was an early challenge with writing from a much younger point-of-view, but that passed quickly. I don’t prefer one over the other—each is a welcome change of pace.
The only real difference is the age of the characters. When I’m writing adults, regardless of the age, they’re dealing with a similar set of issues (jobs, finances, marriage & children) Teens are at a different place in their lives and their characters need to reflect that.
Q: Although genre fiction is very popular in Canada, not many of the authors on our hot shelves are Canadian. However, the Darkest Powers trilogy and accompanying literature has elevated you to the status of Bestselling Author. In fact, I mentioned that you were coming to speak at our library to an employee in a bookstore and, within minutes, the entire staff was asking me for the event details. Will you talk about what earning the status of Bestseller has meant for you as a Canadian fiction writer?
A: It does give me what I call the hometown advantage. We like to see Canadians do well on the international stage—especially in the US. It’s nice to be a national bestseller, but I find that even within Canada, my New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller credits seem to impress people more. While I think that’s more common in genre fiction than people realize, Canada tends to emphasize literary fiction, meaning that I know many local genre writers who aren’t really promoted as being Canadian. I have a separate Canadian publisher, and I think that makes a big difference. They’ve been very good at getting my nationality out there, and it’s really helped my profile.
Q: Your success with writing YA fiction obviously hasn’t dulled your interest in producing adult fiction as well. You continued to produce Women of the Otherworld novels until 2012 when you completed the series with Thirteen. This past August, you released Omens which is the first book in the Cainsville series and has already earned a high 4.09 rating on Goodreads. Moreover, this November the third book in your popular Nadia Strafford series called Wild Justice will hit the shelves. Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from Wild Justice? About what we can expect from all your upcoming work?
A: Wild Justice is the final book in my neglected Nadia Stafford trilogy. I call it neglected because it’s taken 6 years to finish, which is slow by genre fiction standards! The success of the YA series slowed that one down. I finally got a chance to wrap up the dangling storyline. It’s my one series with no fantasy elements—it’s about a Canadian ex-cop turned hit-woman.
I’ve recently released my first interactive story—the Cainsville Files—which is set in the same universe as Omens. Next year I’ll launch my new YA trilogy with Sea of Shadows, a high fantasy based on medieval Japan. And next year also sees the release of book 2 in my Blackwell Pages trilogy—middle-grade Norse-myth adventure written as K. L. Armstrong (co-written with Melissa Marr as M.A. Marr) After that, I plan to slow down! This year, I just really wanted to wrap up the Nadia trilogy properly, and I wanted to write the Blackwell books while my sons were still at the right age to enjoy them.
Q: Thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to answer these questions today. Before you go, any chance you might give us a sneak peek into your author talk at the end of the month?
A: I’ll be chatting about my career—how I started writing, how I got published—as well as giving some insight into the publishing process—titles, cover art etc. I’ll talk a bit about what I have coming up and do a reading. Then I’ll throw it open to questions and the audience can ask me anything about my books, career or writing in general.