Volume 96, Issue 61
Friday, January 17, 2003

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Werewolves and Angelina Jolie

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

Imagine a world where werewolves, vampires, demons and witches roam the streets, unbeknownst to the common populace.

Canadian author Kelley Armstrong hasn't only imagined it: she's laid it out on paper for all to see in her best-selling book, Bitten, and its recently released sequel, Stolen.

"I was really interested in the [horror genre] when I was young," Armstrong says. "In high school, I was the biggest Stephen King fan."

Armstrong lives in Aylmer, Ontario, just outside of London, with her husband and three children, and graduated purple and proud with a psychology degree from Western. She is currently a member of London's Fine Lines writing group, a non-profit group for people who share a passion for writing.

During her university days, Armstrong struggled to find her path; instead of going to graduate school for psychology, she enrolled at Fanshawe College in computer programming. Eventually working a nine to five job, she was able to concentrate more on her writing.

Armstrong, however, never believed the path she chose would land her with a bestseller and the admiration of blood-craving horror fans across the globe. "I've been writing since I was a child, but I never thought I would make a career out of it," she says.

Bitten and Stolen follow the trials and tribulations of Elena Michaels, the world's only female werewolf. Armstrong's werewolves have been described as a more chic and sexier version of famous horror author Anne Rice's vampires.

Although immensely intrigued with the genre, Armstrong says she didn't think she would ever write a book with a monster as the protagonist.

Furthermore, Armstrong says a clear transition has occurred in the genre, evidenced by Hollywood's move to slasher-type movies (Scream) as opposed to the monster-based horrors, such as Evil Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street.

"The monsters of the past don't scare people as much anymore," Armstrong says. "It's not so much about the monsters being evil now, as opposed to them being tormented."

Unfortunately, there was a time when horrors spurred emotions deep in the pit of the stomach and kept the audience staring at their ceiling for nights on end – books such as Stephen King's classics The Shining and Salem's Lot and movies such as the aforementioned Evil Dead and Nightmare on Elm Street. They seem to have been replaced by cheesy, formulaic "running-up-the-stairs-instead-of-out-the-front-door-borefests."

Armstrong, however, insists that she relishes her position in the genre for the time being. "I am having great fun creating these fantasies," she says.

And apparently people in high places are noticing the talent and horrific brilliance of the writer. Armstrong was nominated for the Best First Novel by the International Horror Guild and, in October 2002, Warner Brothers announced that Angelina Jolie was optioned for the role of Elena in the film version of Bitten.

Beware Billy Bob Thornton, werewolves are makin' a comeback.

Kelley Armstrong will reveal her writing secrets at the London Public Library tomorrow. To register, call 439-1771. The cost is $29.


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