As you all should know very well by now, I have a sick obsession with Kelley Armstrong. I just want to kidnap this lady and have her write Women of the Otherworld stories for me nonstop. Creepy? Sure. But I love her. She is, by far, my favorite author in the entire world, and I want each and every one of you to know about her, her books, her TV show, her everything. If you haven’t read her stuff before, do so. If you don’t plan to…don’t even bother talking to me. I’m SO excited to be hosting her new YA fantasy, Sea of Shadows, as our book of the month this April. Seas of Shadows was AMAZING. I didn’t even know that she could write high fantasy….but oh my goodness. I loved it!
Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. All efforts to make her produce “normal” stories failed.
Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She’s the author of the NYT-bestselling “Women of the Otherworld” paranormal suspense series and “Darkest Powers” young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate. The darker the better.
Cats or Dogs?
Can’t pick. I have both and love both for their individual traits.
Favorite television show?
Hardcopies or Ecopies?
Hardcopies. I have an e-reader for travel, but it doesn’t quite feel like reading.
Favorite series of all time?
None. Weird, I know, but I don’t ever think that way about celebs. I appreciate them for their acting or their singing etc. The last crush of that sort I had was when I was 10. Shaun Cassidy. Don’t ask.
Drink of choice?
Can you tell us about your book, Sea of Shadows, in 15 words or less?
Twin girls guard the Forest of the Dead, where convicts are exiled. Things go wrong.
This is your first time doing high fantasy. How much more difficult was it than the rest of your works?
I’ve read high fantasy since I was a teen, so this is the book I’ve always wanted to write. The fun part was the research—it’s based on medieval Japan. The tough part was toning down my very contemporary voice. I had to accept that it would still sound somewhat contemporary while making every effort to adjust my voice.
How long did it take you to write Sea of Shadows?
The first draft took about six months. Then I spent over a year editing it (while working on other projects.) The first in a new series always requires the most work.
What was your favorite scene to write?
The thunder hawk fight. There are two sections to it. The first was great action-packed adventure. The second started with a “hiding in the cave” scene that had some of my favorite character work and interplay.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
As I mentioned, the thunder hawk scene has two sections. They think they’ve escaped it…and they haven’t. Between those sections the two characters were walking and talking and there was some interplay there that I really liked. However, it was too much time between those action scenes, which felt jarring. So most of it got cut.
What is one of your favorite quotes from SOS?
That’s tough when it’s been half a year since I last read it. I always tell myself I need to make a note of quotes when I’m doing my proofs. I mentioned the thunder hawk scene above, so I’ll give a line from it. Not a great one, but it’ll do. “It was a shame to waste such a face and physique on such a surly—and, yes, exceedingly difficult—boy.”
The ending…oh my goodness! That ending! Is there anything you can tell us about the next book?!
It picks up a few days after that ending. Moria is, not surprisingly, growing frustrated with what she perceives as a slow response on the part of the emperor and decides to take action herself, which launches them into their next adventure.
Do you think that you would survive in the world you created in SOS?
I think I could. It’s not a dystopian society. The medieval aspects would definitely take some getting used to, but it would be interesting. I’m not sure I’d care to live there, but I’d visit.
Are we going to see some steamy scenes between Moria and Gavril or Ashyn and Ronan in the next book?
One of the problems with my YA is that I throw my characters into so much action and adventure that there’s really not a lot of time for steamy make-out scenes. They’re too busy trying to stay alive! There are a couple of those in Empire of Night. There’s more steamy stuff in the third book, where I go beyond where I have previously in YA. That’s all I’ll say
Who was your favorite character to write about in SOS?
Moria. My favourites are rarely the narrators, because I’m writing from their point of view. But with this book, it’s dual POV and third-person, so I was able to step back a little and see and develop the narrators from more angles. I love Ashyn, but Moria wins in this contest, which may be part of the reason Ashyn feels overshadowed by her sister. Poor kid. I think, though, that I relate to Ashyn a little better, which means the connection there is too close to say I also like her better.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Tons! I’m writing the third in this trilogy now. I just finished the third in the Cainsville series and the third in the Blackwell Pages trilogy. I still have a few Otherworld projects on the go, due out late this year (an anthology, a graphic novella and a prose novella.) I’m also part of a Canadian-based project with seven authors writing from a shared premise, which gave me the chance to write a YA set in Quebec in the sixties—a real departure from my usual work.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
Good question! I’ve been in editing hell, as happens every winter—I have three books on similar production schedules. So I haven’t read anything other than my own work in a while. A pre-crunch favourite of mine was Robin Wasserman’s The Waking Dark. Great Stephen-King-style horror in a YA, and as you might guess from Sea of Shadows, I’m a horror buff.
Is there anything else you’d like to say before you go?
Just thank-you for the interview. I hope readers will give Sea of Shadows a shot. HarperCollins will post a massive sneak peek—as they always do—so readers can check that out free.
I would just like to say that I am super proud of myself for not hounding KA about The Women of the Otherworld series or the Bitten TV show. It took all my self restraint. Go me!