Kelley Armstrong

How did you become a writer?

I've been writing since childhood.  I was an early reader and very quickly wanted to start writing my own stories. In my twenties I started working on novels, and would sporadically send out query letters and sample chapters, but never got anything more than a form letter rejection. So I gave up and concentrated on improving. In 1999, I sold Bitten, which became my first published novel, but wasn’t my first novel.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

I've been a voracious reader all my life, and I'm sure every novel influenced me in some way, but the biggest conscious influences were Stephen King and Anne Rice. From King, I learned how to make the supernatural seem natural, and from Rice came the idea of making the "monster" the protagonist.

When and where do you write? 

I can write anywhere—I’ve learned to do that—but most of my work is done in a cabin at the back of our property. Complete quiet, no cell phone or internet to disturb or distract me. I do my best writing in the morning. Afternoons aren’t bad, but evenings are horrible. By seven, my brain is too tired for anything but business work.

What are you working on now? 

I’m editing a standalone thriller. I have one coming out in June (Wherever She Goes) and I’m putting the final touches on a follow-up before I deliver it to my publishers.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

My writer's block is two things.  One: fear. Fear that what I write today won't be as good as what I wrote yesterday or in the last book.  I get over that by reminding myself that nothing I write is cast in stone.  If it’s terrible, there's a nice "delete" button to fix that tomorrow!  The important thing is that I write something that day, or the fear will only get worse. The second reason for my writer's blocks? Not knowing where the story is going. If I don't know what happens next, I'm liable to sit there, lost and panicking, maybe realizing that I've written my story into a corner. That's why I always have an outline--so I always know what happens next.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Sadly, what I remember most is the bad advice, and I got a lot of that—people genuinely trying to be helpful by suggesting changes to my writing that probably worked for them, but led to some serious frustration for me. The best advice, then, would be when someone told me to follow the dictates of my own story and not worry about conforming to anyone else’s rules.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Keep writing. It’s boring advice, but it really is the most important thing. Do it for the love of story-telling, and likelihood of publication will rise exponentially as you perfect your craft.

Kelley Armstrong is the author of the Cainsville modern gothic series and the Rockton crime thrillers. Past works include Otherworld urban fantasy series, the Darkest Powers & Darkness Rising teen paranormal trilogies, the Age of Legends fantasy YA series and the Nadia Stafford crime trilogy. Armstrong lives in Ontario, Canada with her family.