AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kelley Armstrong

What was the genesis for “Bamboozled”? Any plans to continue writing in this world?

I’ve always joked about writing a werewolf western. This was my chance. I would love to write the origin story for these characters. I’ll have to gauge the interest for that.

Have you ever considered writing across time periods but within a consistent world? Example: Jayne Ann Krentz’s “Arcane Society.”

That’s what I did here. It’s set in my Otherworld universe, which is contemporary paranormal. I used the same world for this story, which certainly made the world building easy.

You’ve said that you’re “60% plotter, 40% pantser.” Did the writing of “Bamboozled” follow that general trend or diverge?

With short fiction, it’s usually more 80% plotting for me. Otherwise I’ll get off on a tangent and double my word count! Because they’re so much shorter, though, the plotting is in my head, rather than a formal outline.

Can you talk about the language and dialogue choices you made? Your story is refreshingly free of some Western dialogue clichés.

This was the toughest part for me, and it’s why I always shy away from writing anything historical. One, my voice is very casual and contemporary. Two, I can tie myself up in knots worrying that I’m using words and phrases that post-date the story. I spent more time fussing with that in “Bamboozled” than actually writing it… and I’m sure I still messed up plenty. I started by using a slightly more formal diction. Then I made notes of a smattering of words I wanted to replace with period slang and researched the best choice. Finally, I noted all the words and phrases that might be too contemporary and checked them at an online site that measures frequency of use by year. Like I said, I’m sure I still make mistakes, but I definitely tried to avoid them!

Any new projects you want to tell us about?

Lots of new projects! In the last year, I’ve wrapped up all three of my series and launched two new ones with a third for 2014. In adult fiction, I have my Cainsville modern gothic series, starting with Omens. In YA, my high fantasy trilogy starts in April with Sea of Shadows. And in middle-grade, I have a co-written (with Melissa Marr) Norse-based fantasy adventure trilogy, starting with Loki’s Wolves.

What is the appeal of “weird west” fiction? Why do writers—or you yourself—write about it? What do you think readers like about it?

For me, the appeal is easy—Westerns plus fantasy, two of my favourite genres. I think Westerns are a hard sell these days, and one way to get around that is to combine them with other genres. So many readers say “I love Westerns!” but they can’t name the last one they read unless it was a crossover.

What are some of your favorite examples of weird westerns (in any media), and what makes them your favorites?

In TV, Firefly. I will admit that I didn’t watch it when it was on TV—yes, I’m one of those who contributed to its low ratings by tuning in only after it was cancelled. I wasn’t sure “Western in space” was my thing, but it definitely was. For a couple other quickies, I’ll go with Jonah Hex for comics and, in video games, Red Dead Redemption with the Undead Nightmare zombie add-on.