Interview with Kelley Armstrong!
Several weeks ago, I featured Kelley Armstrong’s THIRTEEN, the conclusion to the Otherworld series, as a review article on New Stories, Old Book. Kelley’s Otherworld series is packed with fantastic action and Biblical influence, as well as characters that span over all thirteen novels and unique voices for each. Kelley was kind enough to grace us with an interview for our blog, and I’m so pleased to welcome her as she shares her thoughts with us on Biblical elements in fiction, New Adult as a category and…. *drumroll* …news about the BITTEN tv show based on Kelley’s Otherworld series!
Nola: THIRTEEN is the conclusion of the Otherworld series, though you’ve mentioned we might see more from the world in the future. As the creator of so many characters, do you find it hard to leave some of them behind, or do you feel that many have told enough of their story already?
Kelley: I’m not tired of the characters, but this was where I planned to leave the story, so it seemed wise to do so…before I did get tired of them! Still, it would be hard to leave them behind completely. I have plans for some short stories and, if I get a really good novel idea in the future, I left things open enough for that.
Nola: Are there areas of the Otherworld world you feel are not yet explored, such as other characters within the angels’ realm of duties?
Kelley: There’s a lot more I could do with Eve’s part of the world. We really haven’t seen much of her working as an angel—there are references to jobs and missions, but I haven’t had an opportunity to explore that as much as I’d like.
Nola: The Otherworld series features books from so many perspectives that some received mixed reviews, with readers wishing for more horror instead of mystery and vice versa. Personally, I think the blend is what makes the series so universal – something for everyone, and every book with a different balance of elements. Which genre pricks your interest as an author the most: horror, paranormal, or mystery?
Kelley: Growing up, I read and wrote in so many genres that I seem to naturally insert whatever elements work for a given story. There aren’t any genres that I strongly prefer over the others. However, I know there are readers who do have a preference, which can make it difficult in a series that doesn’t consistently emphasize one or another. I get the most complaints about romance—either readers complain that some books that have too little…or that some have too much!
Nola: In terms of Biblical references, we at New Stories, Old Book are major advocates that adapting Biblical stories or characters to fit into a fiction should not be perceived as a literal re-telling of the old stories. We’re fans of the Bible and love to see authors (and TV shows, etc) use the stories to spark their creativity. In Thirteen, Eve Levine is an ascended angel who battles evil (with a super cool sword), rather than a gentle guardian spirit. Will we see more stories in the future that help sculpt this very unique world of angels and their role as soldiers against demons?
Kelley: I’m always looking for more ideas for Eve stories. When I first introduced her story in Haunted, I did worry that I’d offend readers with strong faith backgrounds (both for my version of angels and my reimagining of the afterlife.) I had remarkably few complaints, though. Most readers of faith seem to understand that it’s a fantasy novel. So that’s never held me back. It’s just a matter of finding more plots for her!
Nola: I’ve found most readers are fairly understanding about fiction as fiction and not meant to be “blasphemous.” Are there any other religious/spiritual connections we haven’t seen from you yet and can expect to see in the future?
Kelley: Not in this series. I do have a co-written middle-grade book coming out in May that deals with Norse Mythology. That’s also a challenge, particularly when writing for children, whose parents may be uncomfortable with them reading about gods and goddesses from religions that are not their own. It does seem to be a little more palatable than the supernatural, though. I was speaking at a school recently, where I was asked not to talk about the paranormal because parents had expressed concern (on hearing what I wrote.) I suggested discussing the Norse book, and pointed out the conflict with that (‘pagan’ religion) but apparently, that was fine. Just no ghosts and werewolves!
Nola: As the age-category of New Adult fiction is emerging with major force, do you hope to see New Adult branch from contemporary into genre fiction? How does this shift affect the way you categorize your own fiction?
Kelley: I gave a workshop at Romance Writers of America’s national conference a couple of years ago talking about the need for New Adult fiction and predicting a growth in it. For a while it seemed as if the genre wasn’t going to take off, but I’m finally hearing more about it. While I wouldn’t want to see it have its own bookstore section, separate from adult fiction, I think there’s a market for books fitting this category (literary or genre.) I know with my last Otherworld trilogy (Waking the Witch, Spell Bound and Thirteen) because the heroine is twenty-one, the publisher made a few tweaks to the cover and description to also appeal to a crossover older YA audience, which I consider the “New Adult” audience.
Nola: Your novels appealed to the 18-26 category even before the term “New Adult” was tossed around. The characters are a variety of ages, bringing in a variety of readers who can experience the story from unique perspectives. As the category grows more strongly established, do you think we will see a clear division between your Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult work?
Kelley: No, I don’t see any division between the New Adult and Adult right now. With the YA, I do make changes (profanity, level of violence, sex) but I don’t do that in the New Adult, so the only difference is the age of the main characters. Also, unlike the YA, while the main character may be 21 or 24, she’s surrounded by others of all ages. I’d prefer to write adult books that sometimes have New Adult age protagonists, rather than split and say “this is my NA series and this is my adult one.”
Nola: You know I have to ask it, even if it’s a long shot! Bitten, the series by Space TV based on the first novel in the Otherworld series, is set to film in spring and air in fall, and your fans are absolutely bouncing off the walls for any more information than that. It must be the most exciting evolution of the series ever, for you. Do you have any new details to share with us?
Kelley: I have details. For the longer version, there’s more on the show here: http://tmblr.co/ZRIYLtbzaqQw and on the latest news here: http://tmblr.co/ZRIYLtb_UiKV But the short version is that it’s on schedule to start filming in April and hit the small screen this fall. They’ve done the initial auditions for Elena and are into callbacks for that role, while moving on to auditions for Jeremy and Philip (presumably leaving the toughest—Clay—for last).
Thank you so much for joining us today, Kelley, and for being such a lovely woman and fantastic author! We are really honored to have you here on our blog, and can’t wait to see what you put out next. We’ll be sure to make announcements and post links here when readers and fans can expect to see something new!
We’d love your comments below!