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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Interview with Kelley Armstrong, Author of The Reckoning (Darkest Powers Series)

Today I am thrilled to be interviewing Kelley Armstrong, author of the wildly popular Young Adult paranormal series, Darkest Powers. Kelley stopped by to talk about the final installment in the trilogy, The Reckoning- Let's get started!

The Reckoning, the third installment in the Darkest Powers trilogy was recently released this month. Can you share with us any teasers regarding this conclusion to the YA urban fantasy series?

Well, one problem with a trilogy is that the further along it gets, the harder it is to write a summary without giving away serious spoilers for those who haven’t read the first books. I will promise that the kids are not nearly as safe as they hoped they were at the end of The Awakening (really, what fun would that be?) And I promise that all the questions readers have asked will be answered, including the romantic one.

As a necromancer, Chloe Saunders is able to raise the dead by summoning their spirits and slamming them back into their dead bodies. If you could have any supernatural power of one of the Edison group teens, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to be a werewolf because I think it would be amazing to experience life—temporarily!--in a different form. The secondary characteristics would be cool, too, but those "extras" also make it hard for werewolves to blend, so if I was being very practical, I'd go with spell-casters. Their powers take work to learn, but overall they have fewer drawbacks. Necromancy would fall a lot further down my list. Too many complications, which makes it great to write about, but not nearly so great to experience.

If the Darkest Powers series was to be made into a movie, do you have certain actors you envision in the lead roles or do you think unknowns would be best suited to play them?

I’m horrible at the “fantasy casting game.” I learned that with my adult series when readers started asking who I’d envision in the roles. When I was having a trailer done for The Awakening, they wanted to know actors who resembled the characters, and I had to ask readers for their thoughts! With mainly teenage characters, I’d be okay with having known actors in the roles because, by that age, most aren’t known enough to be typecast, and I know studios prefer names. If I had my choice, though, I’d go with unknowns.

On your website, you’ve been offering online novellas (free serialized short stories or fiction collections) for your Otherworld series. What made you decide to start the novellas and what sort of response have you gotten from fans in regards to them?

These days, authors are expected to have a website before their first novel comes out. When I started (which was only 2001) that was rare, so I didn’t launch mine until my second novel was released in 2003. When I did, I was advised to think of ways to get readers coming back between books. One idea I came up with was the online novella (or e-serial.) It worked better than I ever expected. After 5 years of them, though, I decided that was enough online material for the adult series for a while. But I did love doing them, so when I started the YA, I decided to write at least one for it. It’s been going very well, and I’m hoping to do more.

In addition to writing the Darkest Powers Trilogy, you are also a best-selling author in the adult market. What about writing a YA series attracted you and in your opinion, is it more challenging to write fiction geared toward teens than it is to write for adults?

I had an idea inspired by my second adult novel, but it was about supernaturals just coming into their powers. In my world, that happens at puberty, which wouldn't work in a series with adult characters! That idea was in the back of my mind as I began getting emails from readers I considered a little too young to be reading my other series. Put all that together and I decided it was time to try writing my YA idea.

The biggest challenge was that I'm a whole lot older than my main character. As a teen, I hated it when adults tried to write in a teen voice and it was painfully obvious that they were on the wrong side of thirty. Having a daughter in the right age group made that easier--I had a living subject to study and a built-in focus group.

Rather than primarily limiting yourself to a single type of supernatural creature your novels have incorporated many different types of characters, including, but not limited to witches, demons, werewolves and ghosts. Out of all your characters, are there certain ones that are the most difficult to write for, and conversely, the least difficult?

The easiest are definitely the werewolves, because that’s where I started and that’s where I spent years writing and rewriting the first book, working through the mythology I was creating for them. Likewise, the ones I’ve written the least are the toughest. For example, I’ve done very little with shamans. Because I don’t have a shaman main character, I don’t have the type as well-defined as the others, which means I shy away from writing them even as secondary characters, which only makes the situation worse—I’ll never get comfortable with them if I don’t write more of them!

In addition to writing novels, you’ve contributed stories to various anthologies-the latest being your offering in The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire. Your story in this novel is about Kat, a teenage girl on the run with her vampire foster mother Marguerite. Any chance that this story could become a full length novel?

Kat is getting more stories, but they’re short stories right now. Without giving too much away for readers who haven’t read that anthology, her “supernatural type” is very popular, and I’m being asked for short stories about that type. I decided to do them about a recurring character (Kat) who will likely make her way into the book series, because she is part of the Edison Group experiments. She might get her own novel or she might just appear as a secondary character.

If you could inhabit the life of one literary character and dive into their world for just one day, who would you choose and why?

Hmm. This won’t be a terribly original answer, but I’d have to pick one of Jane Austen’s characters—any character. It’s a fictional universe that I’ve entered many times as a reader and I’d love to step in and see what it was like to live it.

On your website it says that The Reckoning will be “the last in the initial Chloe trilogy. Book 4 in the "series" will move to different teens in the same world, subjects of another Edison Group experiment.” At this point in time, is there anything new you can tell us regarding Book 4? Also, do you have any plans to embark on another YA series in the future?

The first trilogy was about Project Genesis, which tweaked the existing supernatural types. The second trilogy will be about Project Phoenix. I haven’t said much about it, but I’ll give a bit of a spoiler here—the name symbolizes rebirth and in my adult series (which is set in the same universe) there are supernatural types that have become extinct. That might suggest what the Edison Group was experimenting with

I don’t have any plans right now for a new YA series. With the second trilogy, I’m expanding on the universe for this one—bringing in new characters and new situations—with plans to merge the two, so that should keep me busy for a while.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Kelley!

About the Author: Kelley Armstrong lives in rural Ontario, Canada, with her family and far too many pets. She is the author of the bestselling Women of the Otherworld series; the highly acclaimed Darkest Power young adult series and two adventure novels about a hitwoman, Exit Strategy and Made to be Broken. For further information visit her Official Website.

If you are a fan of the series, or have been wanting to check it out, be sure to check back tomorrow for your chance to win a copy of Book 1, 2 or 3!


Kate said...

Great interview! I absolutely love Kelley Armstrong's adult and YA books, it was great to get some insight! :)

cait045 said...

I am excited for the Project Phoenix and more stories on Kat I really enjoyed her stort story.

Eleni @ La Femme Readers said...

Nice interview, I have the first book on my shelf but haven't read it yet, hopefully I get to it eventually :)

The Graef Family! said...

Great interview!! I've been wanting to read this series. Kelly Armstrong sounds super nice. I'll have to check this series out.