Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Eleni-fest: chatting with Keri Arthur

Today we have fellow RWA Paranormal member, the amazing Keri Arthur as my special guest on Eleni-fest. Keri is a Dark Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance author, who has hit the New York Times Bestseller list with her Riley Jensen Guardian series (how cool is that?!).

My quick fan-girl moment *grin*, Keri is also my ‘writer of the moment’. That means one of Keri’s books is currently at all times (at the moment Beneath a Rising Moon, Ripple Creek series, book one). I’ve been hooked since reading Dancing with the Devil (Book One of the Nikki & Michael series) back in 2002.

Welcome Keri to Eleni’s Taverna and Eleni-fest!

I remember when I interviewed you for Hearts Talk when you received the 3-book deal with Bantam. Now you’re a NYT best seller!! Congratulations! What was it like when your books first hit the list? How has this changed your life?
Whenever a book hits a list--any list, not just the NYTimes--it’s a totally amazing feeling. I dance, I scream, I eat chocolate . And it’s a feeling that doesn’t get old. The biggest change it has made? I guess it’s the fact that selling to Bantam and making the lists (which meant my books were selling well) has enabled me to quit work and concentrate on writing full time.

There will be nine books in the Riley Jensen series. How did this series come about?  What was the original length of the series going to be?
The Riley Jenson series grew out of several books I’d written for ImaJinn. In both the Ripple Creek series and in Circle of Desire, you can see elements of the world building that appears in Riley’s series. The original idea for the cloning thread that runs through the first three books actually came from an article I’d read about cloning--it suggested that it might one day be possible to clone grannies! Needless to say, that was enough to spark my imagination (though cloned grannies never did make it into the series.) Originally, the series was only going to be three books, but by the time I’d reached the third, I knew Riley’s story wasn’t finished. And luckily for me, Bantam wanted more.

You are working on a second series for Bantam – Myth and Magic? How different is this from Riley?
The myth series features dragons and sea dragons, and is set in America rather than Australia. But there’s actually only going to be two books in the series now. I’ve switched to writing an offshoot of the Riley series (the working title is Dark Angels) and it features Risa, Dia’s little girl. It’ll concentrate more on the reaper and Aedh side of things, though vamps and weres will naturally appear. As will Riley and Rhoan.

What attracted you to the world of the paranormal and dark urban fantasy?
I can write weird things and get away with it  
(EK: can't argue with that reasoning)

How do you tackle world building?
I very rarely sit down and create a world before I start writing. Generally, the world develops as I get into the story. But then, my preferred way of writing is as a pantser, so actually thinking about the world before the story is written is rather foreign to the way I write.

You wrote a few series for ImaJinn which are being rereleased by Piatkus. Yay! Will you revisit any of those series? And how lovely is it to see those titles widely distributed and seeing them on bookshelves?
I keep getting asked if I’m ever going to go back to those worlds--particularly the unfinished Spook Squad series--and the answer is no. I wrote those books a long time ago, and the worlds and the characters are now foreign to me. In the case of the 4th Spook Squad, I can’t even remember where I was intending to take it--and that’s no way to finish a great series. I’d rather leave it as is than botch the story.

But it’s totally brilliant seeing them on the shelves here though. I knew when I sold to ImaJinn that I’d never see them on shelves here in Australia (or in America, for that matter), so it was a totally buzz when Piatkus said they wanted them.

The cover art of your books are great – US ones particularly more ‘ethereal’ and the new Piatkus ones, so cool. Do you have a say in them at all?
I’ve no say in them whatsoever--although I guess if I ever hated a cover, I’d get my agent to say so . I love the new Piatkus ones--so much that I asked permission to use the Bound to Shadows artwork when I redesigned my website. Piatkus are intending to re-release the entire Riley series next year with the new covers.

You know I’m a big Quinn fan. Who is your favourite character from your books?
Actually, I’m loving writing Risa at the moment…and the reaper in it is totally hot

What is in the near future for Keri Arthur?

Well, I’ve just finished the edits for Moon Sworn--the last Riley--and that should be coming out around June next year. After that, there’ll be Mercy Burns--the second dragon book--which comes out Jan 2010. From there on, it’ll be Risa’s turn.

How do you think your writing groups and associations have helped you in your writing?
I’m a big believer in critique groups, and I am part of one--the Lulus. We meet once a month to crit, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help. Of course, RWAust has been brilliant, and I’ve made a lot of fab friends who are always there to lend support when needed.

Do you have a set routine?
I do the same thing, day in, day out. I’m boring, really I usually read emails over breakfast, then I take the dogs out for their walk. Then it’s off to the gym for classes or to get tortured by my trainers (I have two PT sessions a week on top of classes). Then it’s back home for lunch. I write in the afternoons, and aim for 5 pages a day--unless I’m on deadline, in which case I’ll write whatever I need to each day.
(EK: I need a nap just reading that!)

Favourite author, book, tv show, movie?
Fav TV show is Supernatural--can’t go past the sexy brothers (and the angel they added in season 4 is rather nice too ). 
Fav movies--LOTR trilogy, Bourne trilogy, just about any romantic comedy ever made  
Fav Authors--I’ll read anything written by Dick Francis, James Herbert, Eloisa James or Jacqueline Carey. 
Fav book--would have to be LOTR

What do you love about being a writer?  
Getting paid for what I’d be doing anyway.

What was your ‘apprenticeship’(ie pre-pubbed years) like?
Well, considering I was writing para romance and urban fantasy long before the market even had a name for it, you could say I had a long, long apprenticeship And I garnered bag loads of less than inspiring rejections, but I kept going because I had to write. But there were lots--and lots--of times I thought I was never going to get anywhere.

Many unpublished writers believe that once you get the call, you’re in. What is your experience with this?
That the real work is only just beginning. Not only do you now have to produce a book to deadline, but you have to juggle edits, line edits, galley checks and promotion while you’re meeting that deadline. Plus do whatever else your publisher might want you to do.  And let's not even talk about the worry of sales and whether they’re good enough for the publisher to go to contract again…

You went to the recent RWAus conference. As a published author, did you still get light bulb moments?
I love going to conferences--it recharges the writing soul. And I don’t think a writer ever stops learning. I always come away with something--be it a light bulb moment or a new way to tackle an old problem.

You recently went to Conflux. How was that?
Conflux is a different type of conference to RWA, but it’s still great fun. They have panels rather than tutes, but there’s always a wide range of topics and I always come away having learned something new.

I’ve always loved the look of your website – back from the days you did it yourself and now you have a designer do it. What’s it been like to see the evolution in your work reflected on your website?
I actually went to a designer because I simply didn’t know enough about designing to get the look I wanted--and I didn’t have the time to teach myself. I think the website has grown as I’ve grown as a writer--but I have to say, I’ll be sticking with the current look for a while. I love it.

You are now part of the blogging team at Deadline Dames. How did this come about?
It came about simply because we all write in the urban fantasy genre and because we all share the same wonderful agent. I believe the idea was first suggested at the Romantic Times conference--during one of our many drinking sessions…

Do you keep the titles of your books?
Mostly, yes. I think there’s been 3 Riley novels that they requested a name change for, but generally I’ve been lucky.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a pantser who’s being forced to plot. Bantam now require a full outline of each book before I hand in the book. I have to say, it’s a rare occasion where the outline actually resembles the finished book.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I generally finish a book every three or four months (depending on how tight the release schedule is). I’ve already written two this year, and I’m hoping to finish a third.

You used to be a chef. Do you miss that at all?
Not one tiny bit. Hated the hours, hated working in the heat, hated getting burned all the time (because I’m short and the ovens were tall. Lol) I miss the people I worked with though.

What do you do in your ‘down time’?
Read books (I’m on a historical kick at the moment), gardening, go for drives to weekend markets, take photos.

Thanks Keri for joining us. It's always a pleasure chatting with you. 

Keri has kindly offered a copy of ‘Deadly Desire’ (or a copy of one of her ImaJinn titles) as a give away.                    

For your  chance to  win a copy of Deadly Desire, please leave a comment (you must be over 18)

If you want you can answer the following questions - do you read paranormal romance or dark urban fantasy? If so what do you love about them?

Comments will be open until 26th October.

Comments for the entry are now closed. Congratulations Louise D!

Good luck!

And thanks Keri for your generosity.

Don't forget to visit Keri's cool website to check out her books.


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