Friday, April 28, 2006

Guest Blogosphere Spotlight and Five Questions

We're spotlighting one of my favorite new authors: Kelley Armstrong.

In her website bio, Kelley laments her author photo and the dull bio. Decidedly not dull, in my opinion, are her Women of the Otherworld series. Werewolves, witches, vampires, sorcerers -- what more could you want??


Elena Michaels, the heroine of BITTEN, is a great character - smart, calculating, kick ass - how did you create Elena? Which part of her character came to you first? Did you, in your mind as you festered her out, see a vast difference in her personality pre- and post-bite?

Elena first appeared in a short story I wrote, so her character came to me as she was at that time--already a werewolf for years. When I created her, I envisioned a woman who would "fit" the werewolf skin and ultimately be comfortable in it, so I built her personality and back-story with that in mind. Elena post-bite is really not much different from Elena pre-bite. The main character development arc of Bitten is Elena coming to terms with that. She'd like to believe that everything in her personality that she's uncomfortable with (her temper, propensity to violence etc) is a result of being a werewolf, but being a werewolf only allowed her the freedom to express what she already was.

Paige Winterbourne (introduce in STOLEN and featured in DIME STORE MAGIC and INDUSTRIAL MAGIC) became stronger in DIME STORE MAGIC. Was Paige always a strong woman, merely overshadowed in STOLEN by Elena, Clay, Cassandra and others, or did she become strong once she was the featured character?

I had Paige's character development mapped out when I first introduced her. I wanted her to be a "character in need of life experiences"--a young woman who has all the tools to take on the leadership role she wants, but lacks gritty experience in the supernatural world. She clashes with Elena almost immediately--and clashes with Elena's lover even more--which leaves a poor impression of her, as seen through Elena's eyes. My plan was then to redeem Paige in the next book, when we see things through her eyes. One huge problem with that? If readers are left with a poor impression of a character, they're reluctant to follow her into her own story. Big lesson for me. What I find exciting and challenging as a writer doesn't always go over as well with readers! It worked out fine in the end, but I had to deal with a lot of "what are you doing?!" emails when people found out Paige would be narrating.

Tell us about your daily writing process. Do you write each day at a specific time? Do you focus on one manuscript or multi-task?

I have three writing days per week--those days when my boys are in kindergarten. So as much as I'd like a more laidback, unstructured approach to writing, right now, I work like mad during those three days, from the time the kids leave until they come home. By nature, I'm a multi-tasker, but that doesn't work for me with writing. I like to start a project and work on it, to the exclusion of all other writing projects, until that phase--plotting, writing or editing--is done. I get frustrated when I'm pulled off a project to do something else. I guess I'm immersed in that story and find it tough to switch tracks partway through.

Without spoiling anything (if possible), why did you decide to make Eve Levine the narrator of HAUNTED? (Eve died off screen in the midst of STOLEN and now she's doing damage in the Afterworld!) How different is she from Paige (black magic aside), and will the reader recognize some of Savannah's more...charming...traits?

Because I switch narrators every one or two books, I like to have them lined up a few in advance. So, while writing Stolen (book 2), I was already thinking of who'd follow Paige (for book 5) Eve was one ideas, but at the time, seemed like too ambitious a project--I was just getting my Otherworld universe in place, so the thought of creating a whole afterlife world too was daunting. Eventually, though, for me, "too ambitious" starts sounding like "challenging" so by the time I was into Dime Store Magic, fleshing out Eve though Savannah's memories of her, I knew Eve would be next. Eve and Paige share some traits in common--their quest for stronger magic, loyalty to loved ones--but Eve is very different, and definitely the most unrepentantly kick-ass character I've done. Savannah's harsher, less tolerant traits are certainly evident in her mother.

What's up next in your career? More Women of the Otherworld, I hope? And what about Cassandra? Will she get her own story soon?

This year's book is Broken (coming in late April) which returns to Elena. I'm contracted through 10, so there are a few more to come. Cassandra is slated for a spot in those next few books, probably book 8. She's been a tough one to work in. Vampires have been done so often--and so well--that I haven't wanted to take a shot at a vampire book until I feel I have a reasonably decent idea.



Kath said...

Hi Kelley! I was so thrilled when Jana told me that you were going to be featured here. I am going to tell you - I was the one who "discovered" you for her and a few of our friends (I'm a Canuck too!) I just LOVED Dime Store Magic, which I read last summer. It enthralled me. Lucas - *sigh* (I like Clay too, but he's a little...possessive for my tastes. I'm more into the cerebral hero). I enjoyed your other books a lot too, but Dime Store will always be my favorite, because it was my first. I am saving Haunted for this summer, when I can enjoy it at the lake, just like I did Dime Store Magic. I'm so thrilled to hear that we can expect at least five more books in this series. I adore it.

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