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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Interview with ... Keri Arthur

This is an interview I conducted with Keri Arthur for a feature article in the Romance Writers of New Zealand's Heart to Heart magazine (Feb.2010 issue). I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed doing it!
Keri Arthur

Melbourne born and bred author, Keri Arthur grew up sharing her life with dragons, elves, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and talking horses. That fertile imagination set the scene for a career as an urban fantasy/paranormal author.
First published by ImaJinn in 2001, this DownUnder author now writes for Bantam Books. She’s received a "Perfect 10" from Romance Reviews Today and was nominated for Best Shapeshifter in PNR's PEARL Awards and was voted best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards for her books.
Her highly successful Riley Jenson Guardian series has hit the NYTimes best-seller list numerous times and her new Mercy Burns series will appear on the shelves in January 2011.

Hi, Keri, thanks for joining us here at Heart to Heart!
Thanks for inviting me. :-)

Your books delved into vampires and werewolves seemingly well before they became “popular”. Thinking back over your journey as an author, did that make it harder or easier to get where you are today?
It was harder. At the time I started writing paranormal romance and urban fantasy, the Buffy movie had just failed, Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde series and Tanya Huff’s Blood series had only just been released,  and Laurell K Hamilton had yet to unleash Anita Blake onto the world. All of which meant that publishers had absolutely no idea just how popular the genre would become, and therefore weren’t really interested in books of that type. Especially from an unknown author from Australia!
MOON SWORN, book #9 in the Riley Jenson Guardian series, will be on the bookshelves in mid-2010.

Is this where you wanted to finish the series? Was it time to move on to something new?
It was definitely where I wanted the series to end--the publisher actually wanted more books. But I figure Riley as a character has been through more than enough, and she deserved an ending. And to be honest, I wanted to write something new (and torture new characters. *lol*)

As a full time author how do you break up your day?
I’m actually a horrible planner, and I have a brain like a sieve, so I tend to forget things or do them at the last moment. I usually answer emails over breakfast and tend to do my blog/website either then or at the end of the day. I write every afternoon (I go to the gym in the mornings) and I aim for a minimum of 5 pages. I don’t actually have much in the way of meetings with my editor or agent--if my editor wants some information, she’ll email me and I do it straight away. I tend not to do much in the way of workshops and I only guest blog occasionally. I do Twitter and I am on Facebook, but I actually think some authors spend too much time concentrating on publicity, and not enough time on the actual writing.

Is changing publishing companies and finding an agent something you’ve dealt with in your career? What has been the most challenging for you in making this transition (between publishing companies)? What factors or sorts of issues should one consider if faced with this decision?
I haven’t actually changed publishing companies. ImaJinn still publish 13 of my books (they sold the English rights to Piatkus, which is why the books are now available here). But if you are considering changing publishing companies, read your contracts carefully--understand what rights you’ve given away, and realize there may be clauses and contractual obligations that could make the switch difficult. Especially if you didn’t have an agent when you signed the contract--agents may not always get better money for authors, but they sure as heck get better terms and conditions.

Which is why I always recommend writers get agents. Agents are worth every single penny you pay them - trust me! And yeah, it can be as difficult to get an agent as it is to get editor interest, but it’s worth persevering--especially if mainstream publishing is where you want to be. Although with the rights grab e-publishers are now attempting in their contracts, it still might be worth getting an agent--or at least a contracts lawyer--to look them over. You may be giving away more than you think.

Do you have any particular regrets or positive memories that have helped shape you as an author? Are there things you’d do differently given the chance to go back and do it again?
I think the many rejections I got during the long years it took me to get published taught me that perseverance pays off and that, in the end, you can get there, no matter what else happens. And you need perseverance to get through the sometimes demanding schedule publishers can hit you with. Are there things I’d change? Well, I sure as heck wish it hadn’t taken so long, but maybe if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

I can remember at an Author Chat at an RWAustralia conference you commenting on series, in particular the world building that goes with it. What processes do you go through when developing your series and characters? How do you keep track of arcing plots and details?
My process of developing series and characters begins by writing the book--I don’t pre-plot or plan, I just sit down and write. But once the world starts developing and I know it’s going to be a series, I starting keeping track of the world building and characters by creating files (on my computer and in a notebook) about each. Over a series, these notes become very important.

Do you think an author’s style changes over time? Has yours? Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Well, I don’t think authors ever stop learning their craft, so yeah, I think it’s logical that an author’s style keeps growing and changing. Mine certainly has--if you read DANCING WITH THE DEVIL (my very first book) and BOUND TO SHADOWS (the latest Riley), you’ll find two very different books. As for what challenges me as a writer--I still think sex scenes are the hardest thing to write (especially if you write a lot of them). I mean, there’s just so many ways to describe the basic act. *lol*

If you had to choose, which author would you consider a mentor?
I’ve never really had a mentor as such, but I would consider the crits groups I’ve belonged to over the years my mentors. They’ve helped guide me and advise me, and they’ve shown me what works and what doesn’t. I certainly don’t think I’d be where I am today without the help of my current group (The Lulus). They’re a fab (and talented) bunch of ladies.

Now, if I had to actually choose a mentor, I’d love either Dick Francis or James Herbert. DF because he writes fabulous characters and stories that drag you in from the very first line, and JH because he not only writes fab characters, but because he writes truly scary books.

You have a new book coming out in 2011. Can you tell us a little about Mercy Burns and what readers can expect from this series?
Mercy Burns is actually the long awaited sequel to DESTINY KILLS. It deals with Trae’s sister, and tells what she was actually getting up to when Trae was looking for her in the first book.
I was intending my dragon series to be much longer, but Mercy Burns will now be the last book. I think Bantam would prefer it if I concentrated on werewolves and vampires. *lol*

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
I’ve been asked some pretty weird questions over the years, so I don’t really think there’s anything I haven’t been asked!

Keri, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to answer our questions.
Thanks for having me! :-)

To find out more about Keri and her books you can visit her website .


  1. Interesting interview! Thanks for sharing Keri.


  2. Great interview, Kylie!

    Why am I only now discovering your blog? You'd have thought I'd have followed the links back from the SFR Brigade blog. Luckily, the Unsinkable Abigail Sharpe is way smarter than me and she pointed me here.

  3. Hi Angi - thanks for dropping in, glad you enjoyed the interview!

    Charlie, great to see you here! Good on Abigail for nudging you this way *grin*. Hope you enjoy the posts - there's some great guest interviews in the archives - Nalini Singh, Tracey O'Hara, Joss Ware, just to name a few.