Jane Virgo interviews our Conflux 8 Guest of Honour.
Keri Arthur, author of the New York Times bestselling Riley Jenson Guardian series, has now written more than twenty-five books. She’s received several nominations in the Best Contemporary Paranormal category of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and has won RT’s Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy. She lives with her daughter in Melbourne, Australia.
Writing involves many hours in front of a computer, yet you are also a mother and a woman who needs ‘me time’ just like the rest of us. How do you manage a work / life balance?
I’m lucky in that my daughter has grown up, I’m able to write full time, and can set my own schedule. I usually spend the mornings at the gym, I do lunches with friends every other week (and with writer mates once a month), and I go shopping. Regularly—and it usually involves buying shoes. 🙂
I write most afternoons, from about two onwards, and have a set minimum of 5 pages a day. At the moment (because I’m going overseas for RWAmerica and NY Comic Con) I’ve had to up it to 50 pages a week, otherwise I’m not going to make my deadline.
You where at the forefront when several genres collided and finally fused into what became urban fantasy. What was that like?
It’s been a frustrating journey, I can tell you that. When I first started writing back in 1990, urban fantasy didn’t really exist as a genre (there were a few urban fantasy novels around, but they were generally tucked under the fantasy banner), and no publisher really wanted it. Especially from an unknown Aussie author. Then authors like Mercedes Lackey, Laurel K Hamilton and Tanya Huff proved there was a market for such books, with Hamilton hitting the bestseller lists part way into her Anita Blake series. Of course, proving there was a market and actually getting published in that market were two entirely different things. It took me ten years to get accepted by a very small US e-press, and another five to be published by Bantam Dell. Then the twilight books hit, as well as the True Blood TV series, and the genre really took off. Mainly because both succeeded in introducing the genre to a much wider audience—and one that would never normally have read anything labeled fantasy let alone anything dealing with vampires and werewolves.
How do you feel about fanfiction set in your worlds?
I actually don’t care, as long as people don’t try to profit from the stories they write (ie, use my world and characters, then change the names and sell it publishers as an original novel)
What is the place of marketing in a writer’s career?
You know, I’ve never been convinced marketing works for most authors. I’ve never done all that much marketing, other than having a website, blogging semi regularly, and being fairly active on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. I do the occasional guest blog post and book signing if I’m asked, but I don’t do launches, and I don’t go out of my way to seek publicity. And yet my books have done fairly well (7 have made it onto the NY Times bestseller list so far.)
There has been instances where books have had huge promotional budgets and sunk faster than the Titanic, and other books that have had little spent of them that have hit the bestseller lists. I’m a big believer in word of mouth selling books, not budgets.
Of course, sometimes big promotional budgets do help. Just look at 50 Shades of Grey. You can’t read a newspaper or watch the TV without seeing some article on it.
You are popular with both speculative fiction readers and romance readers. Do speculative fiction readers ask you different questions to romance readers?
Speculative readers tend to want less sex scenes, romance readers tend to want more <g>
What would you do on the last day on the end of the world?
I’m a fan of ‘Inside the Actors Studio’ hosted by James Lipton. Each show, Lipton asks his guest ten questions, which I’d like to ask you now.
What is your favorite word? – Tea. Because I’m addicted to the stuff
What is your least favorite word? – Can’t. Especially when used by those who won’t even try
What turns you on? – A good looking man. Or a man who can cook. Both would be a dream come true
What turns you off? – BO. Seriously, how hard is it to use deodorant?
What sound or noise do you love? – Rain on a tin roof.
What sound or noise do you hate? – Babies screaming. Makes me want to go hug them.
What is your favorite curse word? – Fuck—it can be used so many ways 🙂
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? – I’d love to be a photographer
What profession would you not like to do? – Chef/cook. Been there, done that, hate it.
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? – Come on in, the tea is mighty fine and the chocolate is on tap
More about Keri and her books is available on her webpage.