I am beyond excited today because I had the marvelous opportunity to interview Kelley Armstrong, the author of Omens [my review], The Women of the Otherworld Series, Nadia Stafford series, Darkness Rising [my review] & Darkest Powers Trilogies. That is correct, this woman is a writing powerhouse and if you haven’t read something by her already you need to rush out and pick up one of her books! Here are a few of her more recent releases.
and coming in April 2014
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Kelley! – Thank you so much for joining us here at My Shelf Confessions. I am such a huge fan of the Otherworld series. I was both relieved and sad at the same time that it ended! I love series fiction, but it is also wonderful to meet new characters and worlds! I am already deep in love with Cainsville…and Gabriel #blush.
– So let’s hear your hard pitch of OMENS in 140 characters or less. Yep, thats right – Twitter style.
OMENS is about a privileged young woman who discovers she’s adopted…and the child of convicted serial killers.
– OMENS did have that fantasy element in there but I felt it was much heavier on the mystery/suspense side. I admit I didn’t know what to expect when reading the synopsis because I haven’t picked up a book from Dutton previously that had fantasy elements in it – when I see their name I think Mystery/Thriller/Suspense/Crime – which of course OMENS definitely fits into. Do you know if that’s the feel you are going to continue to go with for this new series?
It is. Dutton did publish my last three Otherworld books, but one reason I was thrilled to move to them was that I anticipated a more mystery-heavy follow-up series. And I do want to be very clear about that, because I worry that readers will grab OMENS expecting another Otherworld-like urban fantasy. The Cainsville series has one foot in urban fantasy and one in mystery. There will be more paranormal elements in future books, but never the typical werewolves/demons/vampires. The plots will be far more heavily weighted to mystery than action. I love fight scenes, but I’m writing plenty of them in my middle-grade and new YA trilogies, so I wanted to do something else here!
– It must have been extremely hard to part with The Otherworld. Is Cainsville planned to be a long series as well? Or are you just tootling along with it and seeing how the chips fall?
It was hard to leave it, especially when I wasn’t tired of the world or the characters. But I think that’s the time to go—before I get sick of them and have more books under contract! With Cainsville, I’m contracted for three books. I saw it as a trilogy, but by the time I finished book 2 (Visions), I realized I’d need a few more books to tell the whole story. I don’t envision it running as long as the Otherworld, though. I’m not sure I’ll go that long with a series again.
– Sometimes characters annoy me just as if they were real people. I literally want to reach out and whollup them upside the head. Any of your character’s behavior ever annoy you and how do you react?
My characters make bad choices all the time. But those choices have to be the only ones they can make, given their personalities, background etc. Since I’m the one who created those personalities/background for them, I can’t really get annoyed with them! I know that I have them on a path that will help them eventually make better decisions and in the meantime, when they screw up, it’s a necessary part of the journey. It’s like watching my kids make mistakes as I guide them toward better choices.
– Admittedly, I did try to google definitions for a few of the words in OMENS. I was only marginally successful at that. What is some of the fun research you did for this new novel?
Oh, there was so much. Far more research with this book than any I’ve done for a while. While I can’t divulge some—or it would spoiler those terms you looked up—here’s a partial list: Welsh myth, general Celtic lore, Druidism, omens & superstitions, gargoyles & chimera, architecture (lots!) Chicago (city, culture, history), Illinois penal law, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini, the Cottingley Fairies, black shucks & other fetches, ravens, MKULTRA & pre-civil-rights CIA history. There are no real spoilers there—I often need to research incorrect guesses that my characters will make. One interesting note regarding the research. When I was discussing the book with my Canadian editor, Anne Collins, I discovered that she knew all about MKULTRA, because she’d written a book on sleep-deprivation experiments in Montreal that were funded by the CIA, in conjunction with MKULTRA. I found the book and read it, and while none of that McGill connection made it into OMENS, it was fascinating stuff that I’ll use elsewhere.
– What is your favorite fantasy creature? And if you could be one yourself what do you see yourself as?
I would love to be a werewolf and experience life in a different form. The secondary characteristics would be cool, too, but those “extras” also make it hard for werewolves to blend in, so if I was being very practical, I’d go with spell-casters. Their magic takes years to learn, but as supernaturals, their lives have fewer drawbacks.
– Have you experienced any oddball crazed fan moments? Me fainting from being starstruck in front of you doesn’t count…I haven’t made it to Canada yet.
I don’t ever get any odd ones—or none that I’d consider odd. The most awkward ones are when someone brings a book for me to sign…and I didn’t write it! It’s usually an urban fantasy book, with some similarity in the author’s name (Kim Harrison, Keri Arthur) It doesn’t bother me, but the person who brought the book always slinks off, embarrassed, and I feel bad. I also feel bad when someone tells me, after an event (via e-mail, Twitter etc) that they got a book signed and really wanted to talk to me, but were too shy to say anything. Talk to me!
– Do you have a special ritual or activity you do to celebrate when you finish a final draft on a novel?
I’m never completely sure that a draft is final. There’s a set process that I go through with my editors—major edits, minor edits, copyedits, proofs—but there’s always the chance they could send it back for one last round, and if they did, I’d dive back in without hesitation. For me, a book is never really done. It’s just reached the stage in the process where I need to turn it over, and if I’m given the chance, I’ll keep tinkering and tweaking forever!
– I know you must have one…a burning question that you wish someone would ask you…what is it? Or better yet one of the best questions ever asked (See how sneakily I stole their question without even knowing it?? #slygrin)
There are always aspects of a book—usually research aspects—that I hope readers will ask about…and they rarely do. With research, I have to be careful not to dump everything interesting into the book, so I have lots of little tidbits I’d love to impart—you could probably tell that from my answer to the research question! When I do events, I always jumpstart the Q&A with swag, so for anyone who ever comes to see me at an event, ask me something about the research and I’ll be very happy…and you can get a prize in return.
– Is there a topic that you feel you would never write about?
There is a category of subjects I wouldn’t write about, namely anything that’s too close to home, that might make family or friends think I lifted material for a novel from the more difficult parts of their lives. I still deal with general subjects that people I know have experienced, but I’m careful to keep the specifics very different. I wouldn’t want anyone I care about to think I mined their lives for book material.
– Oh yes and of course – because we are having a themed month of Vamps vs Zombies…Whats your plan should the Zombie Apocalypse breakout? Whatever you do be sure to stock up on the delicious salt supreme canned not quite meat SPAM. I think that stuff lasts forever…
I will befriend the zombies. I’ll promise to record their story in a flattering light for future generations. Then, once I have their confidence, I will betray them. Or take over and lead them. I haven’t decided yet.
– This question must have been expected – what books have you got lined up in the cannon for us? I’m sure the YA fans out there are wondering if they can expect any Cainsville YA books.
I’ve recently released my first interactive story, which is set in the Cainsville universe. That came out from Penguin in late July and is called Cainsville Files. This November, I’ll wrap up the Nadia Stafford mystery trilogy with Wild Justice. Next year sees the release of Odin’s Raven, book 2 in my Blackwell Pages trilogy—middle-grade adventure written as K. L. Armstrong (co-written with Melissa Marr as M.A. Marr) As for YA, no Cainsville teen books planned right now. I mentioned earlier that these books are light on action and that I’m doing a lot of action elsewhere—in the middle-grade and my new YA. That new YA is the Age of Legends trilogy, which launches next spring with Sea of Shadows, a high fantasy based on medieval Japan.
– The lucky 13th question – since we are all about confessions – tell me you have a juicy off the wall confession for us?? For instance, I used to have all my purchased books shipped to my workplace so that I could smuggle them into the house later without my husband knowing.
Book-related confession: when I was a teen and buying books with my own money, length was as big a factor as anything else. I wouldn’t even look at short books, because they weren’t worth the investment, and if choosing between two books, I’d always take the longer one. Today, I’ll confess it’s almost the opposite. While I still won’t buy a book that’s too short—I feel like the author wasn’t interested enough in the story—I shy away from long books, too. If it’s 800 pages long, I’ll get partway through, get busy with other things and forget where I left it! I hate admitting that length play a factor, but it does.
I have to admit I was beyond excited when I realized I would be able to interview you! I did a little #SQUEE-ing for joy. So thanks for answering my questions!…now snap to – back to the writing cave for you!
Thanks! Great questions. Lots of new ones, which I love getting. You even asked me about research J
For those of you who are interested Kelley Armstrong has an iPod/iPad/iPhone app out Cainsville Files. Check it out – I know I plan to buy it! It’s an interactive choose your own adventure story that is a prequel to OMENS!
#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong begins her new series with Omens, featuring a compelling new heroine thrust into a decades-old murder case and the dark mysteries surrounding her strange new home.
Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.
But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.
Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.
Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.
I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. My earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, mine would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to my teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make me produce “normal” stories failed. Today, I continue to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in my basement writing dungeon. WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK