Literatur-Community: Hello Kelley, you’re a professional authoress, but a lot of “newcomers” are quite disappointed when they get to know that you can’t live by writing alone. Do you have any recommendations or clues for these writers about how they can “survive” by writing?
Kelley Armstrong: I’m not sure I would advise anyone to expect to make a living writing. It’s very difficult. I usually tell young writers to get a career they enjoy that will allow them to earn a living while they continue to write. For some writers, that second career will be in another area of writing–journalism, editing, advertising. But this isn’t the sort of job that one can expect to leap into and make a living. Most authors I know (many with more books than I have) still work full or part time at something else.
Who is the first person who is allowed to read your books after you have finsihed the final draft?
Usually my agent, though if I’m under a tight deadline it will go to her at the same time as my editors.
Which method do you prefer for writing – by hand or by computer?
I do very rough longhand in a notebook, then fill it out when I transcribe it onto the computer. I’m very comfortable with computers, having been a programmer, but for writing the first draft, I like to curl up in a chair with a pen and notebook.
“Nobody’s perfect”, do you sometimes have any difficulties while writing about certain topics?
I love to write action scenes, but they can be difficult. They need to sustain a high level of tension while being interesting and original. An action scene should be a high point in the novel, but it’s easy to have them turn into a very boring list of action (“Sue did this and then she did this, and then she did this…”)
What was the reason why you decided to study Computer Programming after you have already studied Psychology? These are two completely different branches without an “interface”…
Actually, both psychology and computer programming have something in common. Problem solving. In high school, I was tested for aptitude and I scored highest in problem solving. Both these careers were mentioned as good choices for me. At the time, I was already programming computers, but I didn’t want to do it for a living (or so I thought) so I went into psychology. Then, when I was about to go into graduate school (working toward a PhD in psychology) I realized that path would mean I wouldn’t have time to write. So I switched to programming, which gave me a job I enjoyed while still having time to write.
One can read on your website that you’re a “full-time writer”. As this is a tough job – how do deal with that? Aren’t you tired throughout the day or lacking concentration?
A full-time writer only means this is my main job. I don’t actually spend 8 hrs a day at my computer writing–that would exhaust anyone. Unfortunately, writing is only part of a writer’s job. There’s a lot that goes with it–everything from editing to business correspondence to accounting. So while I don’t write for 8 hours a day, I work 10 hrs a day and often on weekends.
Which of your novels ist your favorite one and why?
Like many writers, my favorite is always the last one I wrote I’m always trying to improve, so I always feel that the last one was my best…so far.
Based on surveys it becomes obvious that most of the readers get their books by “Amazon”. How do you buy your books and why do you prefer this way?
I buy them in a bookstore whenever possible. I like to be able to see the books and support independent booksellers where possible. But I live in an area where the nearest bookstore is a 45 minute drive away, so that’s not always possible. If I’m not heading into the city, I’ll order them online from Canada’s major bookseller–Chapters/Indigo.
Obviously you love writing, thus, it hase become your hobby. Do you make a clear distinction between a hobby and a job?
I’m one of the lucky people who got to make her hobby into a job. I still try to see it as a hobby in some ways, so I don’t lose my love of writing. But it is different. I have a lot of freedom with what I write, but I still need to meet certain expectations–I can’t suddenly write a cowboy romance novel in the middle of my paranormal suspense series or my publishers (and readers) would revolt.
There are several processes involved when writing a book, starting from the basic idea to the final book in a book store – what is your favorite part throughout this processes?
My favorite part of the process is the first draft. I love seeing the story in my head unfold on the page. The planning and editing processes are enjoyable as well. It’s when it gets to the final proofread that I’m getting a little tired of the story and ready to start a new one!
Which compliment would be your personal’s best, offered by a reader?
The biggest compliment I can get from a reader is “I haven’t really read since high school, but I picked up one of your books and now I’ve started reading again.” For people who didn’t grow up reading for fun, their experience with it is often limited to school work, and those books aren’t exactly the most entertaining ones around. I love it when someone reads one of mine and discovers the joy of reading for pleasure.
What are the stages involved when you write a book? You start with the basic idea and then you…
It’s different for every author. We all find the process that works best for us personally. For me, I brainstorm an idea and run it past my agent, because she’s a great person for that–bouncing ideas off her and refining them. Then I do the first draft. I write the complete book very quickly without stopping to edit. When it’s done, I do an edit. Then it goes to my editors. They offer suggestions. I edit again. The book moves on to the copyedit stage then the proofread stage and, finally, I’m done with it…until it comes out and I have to promote it.
Let’s assume you were a part of your own novel. What would presumably be your first thought and action?
How do I get out of here? Seriously, I’m much happier writing my stories than I would be living them. My characters are always in danger, always fighting to stay alive and to protect their loved ones, chasing killers etc. It’s exciting to read about, but wouldn’t be as much fun to live through!
Please finish the sentence: “If I was a witch, I…”
Would start looking for those elusive housecleaning spells. In my fictional universe, magic is mainly for defense and offense, neither of which would help me much in my daily life. My unlock spell would come in handy when I forget my keys (which happens far too often) but most of the others would be useless to me. I’d like a spell for making dinner or folding the laundry.
Thanks a lot for the interview.Google+