Missed our Q&A with Kelley Armstrong? Read & catch up here! 

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Questions from the Community

@Lucia Gonzales​: I want to ask Kelley about her favourite workspace. Where do you feel you do your best work and what is the space like?

Kelley Armstrong

My fave workspace is the cabin in my back field. We live out in the country, and we built a "writer's shed" at the far back of the property.

@Clara Eastwood​: I saw that Kelley studied psychology as well. Has that influenced how you think about writing your characters?

Kelley Armstrong

Psychology is a huge help in character building. It's my main tool for developing three-dimensional characters--what type of impact would a background or current environment have on a person.

@Naila Brown​: I want to ask Kelley Armstrong what inspired the transition from writing fantasy to mystery/crime? was it difficult to adapt your writing style to that type of genre?

Kelley Armstrong

It wasn't a huge switch. Most of my fantasy novels were what I called supernatural thrillers/suspense, with heavily mystery-based plots (who killed someone, who's behind a threat etc) It was just a matter of stripping out the fantasy and pumping up the mystery, and I started the transition with Cainsville (lighter paranormal, more traditional mystery plots)

@Akeel Shah​: What advice would you give to someone who plans to write a short story; what are the ingredients, for example, of crime fiction?

Kelley Armstrong

Best advice for someone who wants to write short fiction is to read lots of it. It has a unique structure. I write 3-4 a year for anthologies, and they really are a very different form of storytelling. Crime is particularly tough--getting in crime+clues+detection in so few words. Try reading one of MWA's anthologies (Mystery Writers of America)

@Lucia Gonzales​: I'm curious also how your writing skills developed.... At what age do you think you really found your 'voice'? Or... 'style'?

Kelley Armstrong

I've been writing since I was a child, so I've always had a voice, and I think it's stronger (for better or worse!) because I started so young. However, I only gained confidence in it in my 30s--after I was published and had a few novels under my belt. An author's writing voice can make their work sound "not like other writer's" and when I was young, I thought that was a bad thing. It's not :)

@Maryam S​: What inspired you to become an author?

Kelley Armstrong

I was an early and voracious reader, and I just seemed to naturally start telling my own stories. That never went away.

@Lucia Gonzales​: Who are your favourite authors?

Kelley Armstrong

All time favourite would be Stephen King, not surprisingly, given what I like to write :)

@Maryam S​: What were your first ideas for your career path?

Kelley Armstrong

I didn't really have a career path plan beyond "get published" LOL That was the biggest hurdle. I wrote 4 books before it happened

@Vanesa Bazo​: Hi Kelley, of all the books you have written, which character do you think is the one that describes you better?

Kelley Armstrong

None of my characters are a lot like me. All my main ones have about the same amount of myself in them, in different ways. For example, my first one, Elena from Bitten, was my age, also Canadian, also a writer (journalist in her case, which I never did) but everything else was different, though she--like others--got a subset of my personality/values etc ;)

@Clara Eastwood​: Which character are you most proud of writing? What do you consider a well-rounded character to be?

Kelley Armstrong

I'm not sure that I'm proud of any of my characters, per se. I can, though, sometimes be pleased by the way they developed, particularly if they went from a very flat character (in my first draft) to character vibrant enough to be a reader favorite. Gabriel from Cainsville is one of those. Sometimes, I know a character isn't working, so I do a ton of backstory and development, and I'm gratified when it pays off!

@Maryam SWhat course did you take a uni?

Kelley Armstrong

My bachelors is in psychology and I also have a diploma in computer programming--I switched gears to the latter because I wanted a career that would give me time to write and coding came very easily to me

@Maryam S​: What are the main important things you keep in mind when writing?

Kelley Armstrong

The most important this, I believe, for me to keep in mind as I write is that my goal is to entertain the reader. I want a reader to put the book down at the end and feel it was an enjoyable and satisfying way to spend their time

@Anushka P​: How did it feel to have your book become a tv series? Do you have much of an input on the series?

Kelley Armstrong

It was a fascinating process! I didn't have any input in the TV series, but it was interesting seeing it develop and seeing reader reactions to it!

Jenn 📚☕ : Can you tell us a bit about writing your latest book, This Fallen Prey? And is the town of Rockton inspired by a real life town?

Kelley Armstrong

Rockton is hugely inspired by the Canadian north in general, if not by any specific town. I love the Yukon (where it's set) and it's one case where I wanted the setting to be a character in itself. The idea of the series is "mysteries set in a hidden town in the Yukon where people go to disappear" and that's both a rich storytelling world and a challenging one.

@Lucia Gonzales​: Are there elements of people you know in your characters?

Kelley Armstrong

There are elements of people I know in my characters, but no one is every strongly based on anyone I know--that seems like a bad idea LOL No matter how good a character is, they must have flaws, too, and no one wants to see their own flaws on the page!

@Naila Brown​: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Kelley Armstrong

Good question! I've learned a lot about myself as a reader--the tropes that I gravitate to. I've also learned a lot of surprising things in my research. Whether it's fantasy or mystery, they both need a lot of research, and I'm always adding in tidbits. Sometimes I have to clamp down on that urge, or the interesting research bits interfere with the story!

Jenn 📚☕: Has your experience with programming helped with structuring your novels and building the framework?

Kelley Armstrong

People always wonder how my programming background could help my writing at all, and it really does, especially with structure, as you said. Coding requires planning and structure and also editing--getting your code into the most elegant form. I use all that in writing.

@Anushka P​: How do you feel about plot/character changes in the tv series vs the books?

Kelley Armstrong

I had no problem with plot changes. They needed to change that for the medium, and I wanted them to make the best show possible. The character changes were harder for me LOL I totally understand that the writers and actors wanted to put their own mark on them, though, and it taught me that apparently, I'm far more invested in my characters than I am in my plots!

@Nina Dreamer​: Hello Kelley Armstrong, I used to write short stories and I love that , I'm an international student and I'll be studying in uk for next year , I would also want to have a part time job in this field, like a writer assistant or something like that ..could you please advice me first what to expect once in uk for me as an international student? And Is it possible to find a part time job in writing? Thank you ! ☺️

Kelley Armstrong

I could give you advice if you were coming to school in Canada, but I'm afraid I can't help for the UK! I'd be asking the same thing :)

@Mohamed Abdihakim Mohammed​: Hi, Kelley Armstrong, was just wondering: do you feel like genres such as fantasy writing are well equipped to fight off sexist and regressive tropes?

Kelley Armstrong

Yes! Fantasy and science fiction have had a long history of fighting sexist and regressive tropes, which is why it's frustrating to sometimes see elements today arguing against diversity in SFF. Through SFF, writers have dealt with issues that were, historically, harder to put into a non-genre novel--showing racism etc. We're also seeing more diversity (in both writers and writing) in SFF today though we have a ways to go in that.

@Naila Brown​: When did you first realise you wanted to become a writer?

Kelley Armstrong

I always knew I wanted to write, but I also knew "author" was a very tough career to get into, so I never actually said that's what I wanted to be. I just hoped maybe someday :)

@Sophia 🌸​: Do you have a lot of unfinished projects? If so what do you find helps keep you on track when writing?

Kelley Armstrong

Before I was published, I had tons of unfinished projects ;) I still have some, but usually that only happens when the book/story isn't working and I need to put it aside. I did that with one book a couple of years ago and recently figured out the problem and returned to it. As for keeping me on track, I usually only focus on one project at a time and I have weekly word goals. Being a former programmer, my project management skills are very good :)

And a final message from @Kelley Armstrong​:

I think I got to them all. Thank you so much for having me on. Great questions & happy writing to all!

You can find out more about Kelley and her work here:

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