Kelley Armstrong Interview
Kelley Armstrong is a prolific writer of multiple series. Tomorrow, my review will focus on the second book in her Rip Through Time Series, The Poisoner’s Ring. I will also provide a summary of Rip Through Time. There are going to be spoilers (as minimal as possible) in the review (linked). Today, I took special care with this interview to not cause any spoilers, even though The Poisoner’s Ring is discussed. Also, although Kelley Armstrong has written multiple series, I will focus only on A Rip Through Time in this interview, summary, and review.
Today, Kelley Armstrong answers a Q and A for Novel Lives, and we are thrilled to have her here.
One of my favorite parts of this series is the mysteries. But beyond that, I love how you connect themes throughout both time periods. How do you create that thread and decide on which issues to utilize?
The comparisons rise organically, which is part of what makes these books so much fun. Putting myself in Mallory’s place, I react as she would to what she sees, which often draws a comparison between the Victorian world and ours. Sometimes she can reflect on how much things have changed…and sometimes, she had to admit how little things have changed. Once other characters realize she’s from the 21st century, it gives me the opportunity to have them say things like “I’m sure that’s been resolved by your time”—especially to social issues—and she has to reluctantly admit it hasn’t.
There isn’t any shying away from Mallory’s position. It is discussed readily throughout The Poisoner’s Ring. How she’s from a different time, and what that means for both the timeline she is in and her personality. Can you discuss how you’ve decided to handle this aspect of the book?
The “fish out of water” is the true joy of time-travel historicals. In a regular historical, the time period is all the narrator knows, so to call attention to the interesting aspects of it would be odd. However, with someone like Mallory, who is very much a modern Canadian professional, comfortable in her own time and place, going to Victorian Scotland is like going to an alien planet, one you’ve seen portrayed in fiction but not always accurately. She thinks she knows how to fit in…and she doesn’t. There’s a very real danger there, too. It isn’t as if people will just look askance at her. A woman behaving oddly in that period is likely to find herself in an asylum. That increases the stakes and means she needs to fit in—fast. It also means that, for her mental health, she needs allies who know what she is, people she can be herself around.
Thinking on the above, as character dynamics/arcs develop, I imagine that as much as she wants to go home, it would be increasingly difficult. Is there anything you can share on this?
I can promise that the issue is handled definitively in book 3, which I’m now editing. I was very aware that readers would want this addressed soon, but it couldn’t be addressed too quickly, or it dilutes the stakes and the choice that may need to be made.
Again, thinking of the above questions- is there any thought as to if she’ll end up back in her time, a different time, or have the ability to split between two?
Book 3 will get her back to her own time…and then she has choices to make, and while I can’t make that easy on her, I hope that it reaches a satisfying conclusion for readers.
You juggle a multitude of series at once? Just. How? Also, do you have a favorite?
I don’t really feel like there’s any juggling involved. If there were, I’d stick to one series or one genre. For me, mixing it up keeps it fresh creatively. No favorite—again, if I had one, that’s all I’d do. The joy comes in happily writing one thing and then switching over to something new so that when I return to the first, I’m happy to dive in again.
What/How did you get into reading and, subsequently, writing
I’ve been writing since childhood. I don’t remember ever not reading—it was something my parents encouraged from as far back as I can remember. I was an early reader and very quickly wanted to tell my own stories, so I’ve been writing for as long as I could put pencil to paper.
Do you have a contemporary colleague that is an inspiration?
I tend to be inspired by authors I know personally rather than ones I only know through their work. If I know them, then I see what they’ve gone through (personally and professionally) to either achieve a writing career or—often more importantly—to maintain it.
Is there a character you’ve recently read that you would love to experience their life?
Ha! My last four reads were all horror—sometimes, I switch genres with every book, and sometimes I stick to one for a while. So, no, I would not want to have experienced any of the characters’ lives, especially since most of them ended horribly!
What are the most difficult scenes for you to write? What is your writing process?
I love to write action scenes, but they also take the most time. They need to sustain a high level of tension while being interesting. As much as I love action movies, I fast-forward any sequence that seems to be action for action’s sake. I want to see the forward movement of either the plot or the character development within those action scenes.
I work best from an outline, even though my finished novel never completely follows it. Better ideas always come up while writing. The first draft is a very intense process for me, and I’m writing very quickly, and then I ease back into a more relaxed editing mode, which can take longer than the actual writing.
As an author, can you tell me something about the audiobook process, what it means to you, and how important the right narrators are (especially for a series)?
I’m an audiobook listener, so I’m very aware of how important it is to find the right audiobook narrator. A narrator can be extremely skilled and still not be right for a character. Finding a narrator who can bring the character to life is gold. Having the same narrator is important for a series, but having the same right narrator is even more important. That narrator becomes the voice of the character and brings so much to the story, expanding the readership. I’ve had the same narrator (Therese Plummer) for my Rockton series, now at 8 books, and with everyone, I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear she’ll be back. I think my audiobook readers would mutiny otherwise.
Kelley Armstrong Bio
Taken from her website, which is linked below
Kelley Armstrong believes experience is the best teacher, though she’s been told this shouldn’t apply to writing her murder scenes. To craft her books, she has studied aikido, archery and fencing. She sucks at all of them. She has also crawled through very shallow cave systems and climbed half a mountain before chickening out. She is however an expert coffee drinker and a true connoisseur of chocolate-chip cookies.