ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Vampires, ghosts and getting published
By Christopher Hodge
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
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
“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
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
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