Thursday, February 21, 2008
Lori G. Armstrong
Gerald So: What went into creating your P.I., Julie Collins?
Lori G. Armstrong: um...tequila? kidding. I'm thinking
Gerald So: :)
Lori G. Armstrong: The truth is, she came to me in bits and pieces.
Gerald So: You mentioned writing romances. Did that factor into creating Julie?
Lori G. Armstrong: God no.
Gerald So: :)
Lori G. Armstrong: Julie is the least romantic heroine possible.
Lori G. Armstrong: Not necessarily because she's cynical, but because love has kicked her in the teeth so many times that it doesn't seem worth it.
Gerald So: and yet she does attract romantic men (Martinez especially).
Lori G. Armstrong: Well, until she hooked up with Martinez
Lori G. Armstrong: As far as her character, there is some assumption with readers that Julie and I are one in the same.
Gerald So: Yes, that's my follow-up question.
Lori G. Armstrong: I know that happens to quite a few authors, where people -- readers and others assume experiences have to be based on fact. What I tell people is beyond us both being blue-eyed blondes living in South Dakota, the thing we have in common is our taste in music. She's one helluva lot tougher than I am. I don't court trouble, I usually avoid it.
Lori G. Armstrong: I don't smoke, my father didn't abuse me, my mother isn't dead and my brother isn't Indian...although, I do admit I have a foul mouth, in private anyway.
Gerald So: I see. Why do you think Julie is the courting-trouble type?
Lori G. Armstrong: Julie faces other people's troubles head on because she has a need to prove she's right. She's pretty good at avoiding her own issues.
Gerald So: I really sensed her fear of her father.
Lori G. Armstrong: Which is the issue. As an adult she doesn't want to be afraid of him, because she spent her young adulthood dealing with his violence.
Gerald So: My introduction to Julie was Hallowed Ground but I have Blood Ties on the TBR shelf.
Lori G. Armstrong: I try to make each book stand alone, but it is hard when you're writing a series character because you have to dole out pieces of them in each book. It's also true you don't know everything about the character when you first create her.
Judy Bobalik: I found you!!
Lori G. Armstrong: hi Judy :)
Gerald So: I thought the book stood alone, but I was interested to read Blood Ties, which is what you want. :)
Lori G. Armstrong: natually, then I want you to read Shallow Grave and preorder Snow Blind from Amazon. What I find interesting from readers who've started with Blood Ties and followed the books in order is they tell me they like Julie better with each book I'm aware she has some harsh edges and I don't think I've necessarily softened her.
Gerald So: Maybe readers are getting used to her.
Lori G. Armstrong: exactly.
Gerald So: I had that reaction to her rough edges that you mention.
Gerald So: but then you don't have to like everything about a character. It's intriguing, in fact, if you don't.
Lori G. Armstrong: Especially when the character makes choices we never would. I think it's a fine line, to keep her tough, yet...not.
Gerald So: go ahead and ask anything, Judy. If you want type a "?" first.
Gerald So: Yes, I know what you mean. It's believable because a lot of her toughness is more wanting to be tough. I get the sense that she psychs herself up to be tough; a lot of people do.
Lori G. Armstrong: We all make dumb mistakes but I think it's wrong not to allow those mistakes in a character, I mean, I'd rewrite things in my life if I could, so it's tempting to do it in fiction. I was on a panel at a conference once talking about kick ass females. All female authors
Lori G. Armstrong: and we were supposed to give our personal definitions of what "tough and kick-ass" were...and in Julie's case, it is tough in the most literal sense
Gerald So: I don't have a good definition for "kickass" :) Tough, yes. :)
Lori G. Armstrong: That's what was so interesting about the varied definitions.
Gerald So: who else was on the panel?
Lori G. Armstrong: All cozy writers...and me :)
Gerald So: incredible, and possibly awkward.
Lori G. Armstrong: A little, especially when my answer to what constitutes a kickass female character was, a woman who can literally kick your ass and isn't afraid to do it
Gerald So: :)
Gerald So: Who are some of your current favorite authors/characters to read?
Lori G. Armstrong: I just finished The Watchman by Robert Crais - excellent book.
Gerald So: I thought so, too. I like how he's explored Pike when so many other authors just leave their sidekicks alone (Hawk, etc.)
Lori G. Armstrong: I think that's what makes a believable sidekick - when they could carry their own story.
Lori G. Armstrong: Next is T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton and then Strangers In Death by JD Robb.
Judy Bobalik: This is very odd. I have no idea what I'm doing. Watchman was very good and T is for Trespass was fabulous.
Lori G. Armstrong: I tend to read mystery when I"m not writing it
Gerald So: Can you read other books while writing your own, or do you go into pure writing mode?
Lori G. Armstrong: It's never been a problem for me until this year, when I had back-to-back deadlines and NO time for reading at all. I didn't read anything from Oct. 1st until about 3 weeks ago. So I'm woefully behind, didn't seem to stop me from buying the books I wanted, my TBR pile is huge.
Lori G. Armstrong: Judy, what book are you most looking forward to buying at LCC?
Judy Bobalik: I was hoping that Craig Johnson's would be out but I don't think it will be published until June.
Gerald So: Lori, I've heard you mention Snow Blind is the *last* Julie Collins. Are you ending the series? I know you've got that new series to think about.
Lori G. Armstrong: It will be the last Julie book...for now. I'd envisioned the series 7 books total, because I do think series should have an end point.
Lori G. Armstrong: The first book in the new series is done and will be out in hardcover in April of 2009.
Gerald So: I see.
Gerald So: I like that there seems to be real progress in your books, not a bunch of cookie-cutter adventures that could go on forever.
Gerald So: Ahem-Spenser-ahem.
Lori G. Armstrong: I figured I need to tell what happened to Julie's brother, which I did in Shallow Grave.
Judy Bobalik: Lori, is shooting a bow like Julie does in the books, a personal hobby?
Lori G. Armstrong: No, I do like to shoot guns :) I'm not a crack shot, however. I did shoot a bow for research purposes and talked to quite a few bow hunters. I think it's harder, physically and mentally, partially why I chose it for Julie.
Gerald So: I've heard it takes a lot of upper body strength to shoot a bow.
Lori G. Armstrong: having her proficient with a bow, but not a game hunter, was a conscious choice. It really works muscles in the arms.
Gerald So: What's your writing process like? outline, no outline, etc.?
Lori G. Armstrong: Outline, definitely. I usually know the 8 to 10 high or low points, subject to change if I get into the story and it doesn't work, but I can't imagine winging it
Gerald So: I see.
Judy Bobalik: With the many books you write, I would think winging it could be confusing.
Lori G. Armstrong: You're right, Judy. I find the more I write, the more I need to outline. And usually I have to write at least the first chapter before I can outline anything.
Lori G. Armstrong: I had a romance book due the same time as Snow Blind, and I was half afraid cowboys were gonna show up in Julie's story :)
Gerald So: not too much of a stretch. :)
Lori G. Armstrong: I managed to keep them in their respective genres
Gerald So: We're a little over time. How much longer can you chat, Lori?
Lori G. Armstrong: I'll stick around if you've got other burning questions, Gerald and Judy.
Gerald So: Thanks. Any questions, Judy?
Judy Bobalik: Nope, none that I can think of.
Lori G. Armstrong: None?
Judy Bobalik: I alread asked my one.
Gerald So: I have one: Do you know at this point how the last Julie book will end? In other words, where you want Julie to end up. You don't have to give it away. I'm just curious in general.
Lori G. Armstrong: I thought I did, but faced with the possibility of not writing any more Julie books...I had to write Snow Blind a little differently than I'd planned.
Gerald So: I see.
Lori G. Armstrong: And it isn't giving anything away to say I don't kill her :)
Gerald So: Phew. :)
Judy Bobalik: Good. I don't like it when authors kill off there main characters.
Lori G. Armstrong: Don't you feel sometimes, that some characters should be killed off?
Gerald So: Yes, I can take it or leave it.
Lori G. Armstrong: Maybe not main characters, but secondary ones?
Gerald So: If their deaths are earned, I approve.
Lori G. Armstrong: but not gratuitous to shake things up
Gerald So: If you know the John Francis Cuddy series, I thought Nancy's death was well earned.
Judy Bobalik: No not gratuitous just to shake things up.
Lori G. Armstrong: I've heard readers say, if "so and so kills off this character, I'll never buy her again" which is sort of frightening, as an author.
Gerald So: Yes, that seems a little extreme. I always like to see where the author takes things after a character's death.
Lori G. Armstrong: The potential for change is immense in a life-altering event, and not being able to use it seems like cheating, especially in crime fiction where main characters are on the fringe and death should be expected.
Gerald So: I agree. I'm too much of a fan to say I would boycott any author if a character died.
Gerald So: On the flipside, if a character never gets hurt, things become ho-hum. I want every book to be meaningful, but the longer a series goes, the more attached readers become to characters.
Lori G. Armstrong: Or if they're getting hurt all the time. I had a reader say to me that Julie couldn't take that many punches in the stomach in real life.
Gerald So: True.
Judy Bobalik entered the room.
Gerald So: welcome back, Judy.
Gerald So: Lehane's Kenzie and Gennaro seemed to take an awful lot of punishment.
Gerald So: I wanted them to take self-defense classes.
Lori G. Armstrong: They were getting beat up right and left. But at no point for me did it stretch into the realm of disbelief
Gerald So: Me neither. I just wondered why they didn't take steps between books not to get beaten up. :)
Lori G. Armstrong: They had that hope maybe this next case *wouldn't* be like the last one.
Gerald So: I suppose you're right. And I think maybe Patrick didn't want to train for fear of lashing out physically against someone the way his father did at him...
Lori G. Armstrong: In some ways, I think that's why Julie is eager to fight and she doesn't back down, she wants to prove she's no longer a victim and can take care of herself just fine.
Gerald So: Good point.
Gerald So: Thanks again for chatting, Lori. See you on the list.
Lori G. Armstrong: Thanks for having me :)
Gerald So: Most welcome. Have a good night.