March 4, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 80  

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Vampires, ghosts and getting published

By Christopher Hodge
Gazette Staff

This Saturday, the London Central Library will be hosting “How to Get Published: An Editor and An Author Tell All.” The seminar will feature Brian Henry, a veteran book editor of 21 years, and Kelley Armstrong, author of the novel Bitten.

Both will be on hand to answer questions ranging from how to write a query letter to how to get an agent. However, Armstrong warns that there are no quick-fix tips that will guarantee a beginning writer a spot amongst the top best-selling authors — that type of success must be acquired through hard work.

“‘How do I get published?’ is a very basic question I’m asked,” Armstrong says. “I don’t think most people like to hear my answer. There are no easy tricks. Enthusiasm is important and a willingness to learn the craft and put a lot of work into it.”

Armstrong’s own rise to success is an inspiration for aspiring authors. A Western graduate, she initially placed writing a distant second behind seeking a “real job.”

“I had been writing since I was a child,” Armstrong explains. “But I never sat down and considered it a career choice — it was always just a hobby.”

She says her decision to seriously pursue writing did not come until after she had graduated from Western and was considering a master’s degree in psychology. It was then she had an epiphany.

“I was starting to get ready for my master’s and I thought, if I ever want to pursue writing, I simply won’t have the time to do it if I don’t do it now,” Armstrong says.

So, rather than continue on her original path, Armstrong took a detour. She enrolled in computer programming at Fanshawe College and landed herself a “normal job,” which allowed her to set aside enough time to develop her craft as a novel writer.

Armstrong emphasizes that success is only realized after a great deal of hard work.
“In the early years, everyone gets rejected,” she says. “I got a few short stories published but realized that I had a long way to go.”

Her determination eventually paid off. She perfected her craft, found a publisher and published Bitten, the story of a female werewolf trying to survive in the modern urban jungle. Success soon followed, more books were written and talk of a movie deal began to circulate.

Warner Brothers has even gone as far as to option Angelina Jolie to play the lead in the movie adaptation. Armstrong admits, however, that as a recently emerged author, this type of success is often a trade-off between financial rewards and control.

“They take [your work] and they give you money,” she says. “And you need to ask yourself the question, ‘Am I willing to sign over creative control for money?’ When you’re further along in your career you can exercise more creative control, but not at this point — not this early on.”

In the meantime, Armstrong has enough on her plate to keep her busy, including the release of her latest novel, Dime Store Magic. Having enraptured herself in the world of werewolves and witches throughout her books, one question remains: has she, even for a second, contemplated the possibility they might actually exist?

Armstrong laughs at the thought. “I’m a reluctant skeptic — right down to ghosts.”

Kelly Armstrong will be appearing at the seminar “How To Get Published” this Saturday at the London Central Library. For more information, contact Bev Irwin at 439-1771.



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