While at RT, I had the chance to talk with Keri Arthur and I so took it. There was so much I wanted to know regarding Riley, but of course, at that point in time, Keri couldn’t tell me much. Well, her answers were all the same – read Moon Sworn – but we did manage to have a pretty good conversation aside from all that.
This week, Keri is celebrating (and I’m mourning) the release of Moon Sworn, the final novel in the Riley Jenson series. So check out our conversation and then head to the bottom – there’s a copy of Moon Sworn up for grabs.
Shape-shifting werewolf and vampire Riley Jenson is through with death—causing it, solving it, surviving it. Her soul mate, Kye Murphy, is dead—and at Riley’s own hands. Not even the seductive embrace of her vampire lover, Quinn, can fully ease her mind, for she has begun questioning everything that makes her Riley—including her job at the Directorate.
Now, the ritualistically slain bodies of ex-cons have started turning up. Reluctantly, Riley takes the case, but something even worse is waiting in the wings. A vicious enemy from her past is determined to strip Riley of everything that gives her life any meaning: her lover, her brother—and even her own identity. Can Riley survive this ultimate assault? All she knows is, she must fight one last time to find answers, before everything goes dark forever.
Literary Escapism: Why Riley? What was it about Riley that drew you to her and want to tell her story?
Keri Arthur: She’s that way because I wanted to write something that was sexy and fun, someone who wasn’t afraid of her sexuality. She’s all that and more.
Literary Escapism: You didn’t plot her out or anything?
Keri Arthur: No, god no. I never plot books out.
Literary Escapism: Are you one of those authors who talk to your characters in your head or is she…
Keri Arthur: They talk to me in my head.
Literary Escapism: Is she happy she’s not getting any more books?
Keri Arthur: Oh yeah, totally thrilled.
Literary Escapism: So can you say Riley is getting her happy ever after?
Keri Arthur: Oh I can’t say that.
Literary Escapism: I didn’t think you would, but I thought I would try.
Keri Arthur: Look at the title of the book. That will tell you something.
Literary Escapism: Yeah, but Kye is not around anymore. That is what is throwing me. Especially when the title was changed; it gave me hope when you changed it because I thought that meant there was another book after MS.
I have to wonder, since creating your world in Full Moon Rising, has there been anything you’ve regretting starting or wish you had started sooner? Was there something that worked out great in Full Moon Rising or Kissing Sin, but wished you had done differently?
Keri Arthur: No.
Literary Escapism: Nothing? Everything worked?
Keri Arthur: Considering I’m not a plotter, I’m more than happy with the way things worked out. Could I have done some things better? Yes. But I think every author would say that about their books
Literary Escapism: How did Rhoan and Liander’s personalities come about
Keri Arthur: I’ve worked with a lot of gay guys and I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum of the gay guy. And you often see over-the-top representation, but you don’t often see the normal gay guy – the every day couldn’t tell they were gay guys. And that’s what I wanted to share. A relationship that was happy, where each partner was working their way through the problems. It just happened to be two guys rather than male/female.
Literary Escapism: So they didn’t just show up, you wanted that type of relationship.
Keri Arthur: Yeah. Plus their relationship is basically what Riley wants. She sorta can’t get.
Literary Escapism: There was Kellen, and unfortunately Kade and then Kye…
Keri Arthur: Well Kade was never really a serious contender, he was just a fun bedmate.
Literary Escapism: Yeah, but if he hadn’t been who he was, though, it could have been interesting between the two I think.
Keri Arthur: Could have been, but it was never going to happen.
Literary Escapism: Are we going to hear any backlash from Kade…not necessarily backlash, but anything…
Keri Arthur: No. Not from what I’ve written so far. Although there is another horse shifter in the Risa series, but they are not related.
Literary Escapism: I mean, do we get any kind of reaction as to what happened from what happened in Bound by Shadows.
Keri Arthur: Oh yeah.
Literary Escapism: Because she’s friends with Sable…
Keri Arthur: Oh she is not friends with Sable. She doesn’t know Sable and you jump a couple of months in Moon Sworn, so you get Riley’s take on what happened, but not anything really more.
Literary Escapism: Ahh, because Riley is still in that dark place where killing the whole soul-mate thing…
Keri Arthur: Yes.
Literary Escapism: Throughout the entire series, Riley has gone from being herself and fully rising to what we’ve seen in Bound by Shadows; what has she been like during this development. You say she talks to you, has she been annoyed with some of the obstacles that you’ve thrown at her?
Keri Arthur: Well, she doesn’t talk to me in that way. I sorta see things about her and hear conversations in my head, but she doesn’t actually talk to me. That would be a bit crazy.
Literary Escapism: Not necessarily. It’s only crazy if someone else hears it.
Keri Arthur: Well, this is true. I’ve been happy with the way Riley has developed or gone downhill.
Literary Escapism: So she hasn’t fought it or anything?
Keri Arthur: There’s been a couple of times where she’s gone in a different direction than what I’ve planned.
Literary Escapism: For good or worse.
Keri Arthur: For worse actually. Something that happened went a little darker than what I planned, but I started writing and it actually just flowed and it seems right, so I kept it in.
Literary Escapism: Has there been any part of Riley’s world that you wanted to expand on, but for some reason haven’t yet, or will we see that in Risa?
Keri Arthur: Risa. Yeah, the whole Aedh side of the story, which is what Quinn is – he’s half-Aedh. I’ve wanted to expand on that and that’s partially why I’m going on to the offshoot series. I would like to expand on all that…and the reapers.
Literary Escapism: Is Risa going to be at the same level as Riley or will this be several years down the road?
Keri Arthur: It’s several years down the road, Risa is in her late twenties
Literary Escapism: Oh, so this is not a young adult then?
Keri Arthur: Oh no no no no. It’s going to be much the same as the Riley series – sex and violence.
Literary Escapism: That works. Will we see Riley, Rhoan and Liander…
Keri Arthur: And Quinn
Literary Escapism: They all show up? Just in the first one or are they going to be in…
Keri Arthur: I expect they’ll be in the second one too, I’ve only just started the second one, so…
Literary Escapism: Is the directorate involved in Risa or is this going to be a completely…
Keri Arthur: Director Hunter, the woman in charged of the directorate, is involved. The directorate itself not really. It’s all the vampire council and the director.
Literary Escapism: So we’re going to see more of the vampire council because it’s only hinted at in Bound by Shadows.
Keri Arthur: Yes. It’s going to be the vampire council and the cazadores, which is what Quinn was for them.
Literary Escapism: So Risa is going to be in the same world, but nothing we’ve seen yet.
Keri Arthur: No. You haven’t seen the Reapers yet and the Reapers are cool.
Literary Escapism: Are they good or evil or bad?
Keri Arthur: No, no they are good.
Literary Escapism: You’ve already told me that you won’t tell me whether Riley will get her happy after, so I’m not going to ask that question, but will Rhoan and Liander? Bound by Shadows gives them the hope to expanding their family. Will we see them having a happy ending?
Keri Arthur: You’ll get an answer to that question, yes.
Literary Escapism: Will Riley be showing up in any novellas in the future? Or do you have any plans to expand any of the characters besides what would show up in the Risa series?
Keri Arthur: Not at the moment. I can’t say never because you just don’t know. I’m concentrating on the Risa’s series right now.
Literary Escapism: Is there anything you can tell us about Risa’s series that hasn’t made it out yet? You’ve said there are Reapers and the Vampire Council, but is she going to see any other shapeshifters in there?
Keri Arthur: Oh yeah. She shares a flat with a werewolf who is a firestarter and a horseshifter who is a witch.
Literary Escapism: A few of my readers were wondering, will are there any plans for another Nikki and Michael book?
Keri Arthur: No.
Literary Escapism: I haven’t read the series, but I’m assuming it ended on a…
Keri Arthur: It ended on a happy note and I couldn’t think of anywhere else to take them as a couple, so I thought leave it there rather than just write another book for the sake of writing another book.
Literary Escapism: Did you leave it open so if something were to come to you?
Keri Arthur: Yeah. It’s open enough that if I did get another idea, I could continue on; but they got their happy ending basically.
Literary Escapism: Will you have the chance to finish the Damask Circle series?
Keri Arthur: That’s a series I can go back to any time. It’s only the world that connects the books, there’s different characters in each novel.
Literary Escapism: Is it more paranormal romance than urban fantasy?
Keri Arthur: Yes, it’s paranormal romance.
Literary Escapism: I will be honest, I got hooked on the Riley series and I didn’t realize that there were the Damask Circle, Nikki & Micheal, the Spook Squad…
Keri Arthur: The Spook Squad is one I haven’t actually finished yet. There is suppose to be four books in the series. There were a couple of years between the second and third book, I had a lot of trouble writing the third book because I had already begun writing Riley by then and I can’t finish the fourth book. I’m out of the characters and I’m out of the world. I’d rather not write it than write it badly. I do get a lot of complaints, because people get to the third book and say Hello? Where’s the rest of it?
Literary Escapism: No one will have that problem with Riley, correct?
Keri Arthur: Oh no. No one will have that problem with Riley.
Literary Escapism: Are you an author who focuses on one series at a time or do you have other projects going on?
Keri Arthur: Oh no, there’s the second dragon book coming out in January.
Literary Escapism: Myth and Magic?
Keri Arthur: Mercy Burns. Destiny Kills is the first one and Mercy Burns is the second one.
Literary Escapism: That’s one that has been sitting on my shelf glaring at me. Too many books, so little time.
Keri Arthur: Yes that is a problem.
Literary Escapism: Plus the three year old.
Keri Arthur: And the baby on the way..
Literary Escapism: And the baby on the way. The baby on the way doesn’t take up any time right now. It’s the three year old that takes up all the time.
You have all these series, which one was the most fun to write?
Keri Arthur: Riley.
Literary Escapism: Why was Riley the most fun?
Keri Arthur: Because I could do anything with her. I did some terrible things to that girl and it didn’t matter. It was a book I wrote because it was something I wanted to write. I wanted to explore a character who wasn’t afraid of her sexuality and who could do anything. She was a blast to write.
Literary Escapism: She was a blast to read, I know that.
Keri Arthur: Hopefully Risa will follow in her tracks. Risa is a different character, but she’s fun.
Literary Escapism: Risa is Dia’s daughter and Dia was a clone.
Keri Arthur: Right.
Literary Escapism: Now is any of that going to come back to haunt Risa or has she been affected by any of that?
Keri Arthur: Not really. She’s going to be more Aedh than anything else. She does have some of Dia’s capabilities – seeing the dead, walking the gray fields and stuff like that.
Literary Escapism: So she won’t have any issues with the cloning people will show up at all then?
Keri Arthur: Well not at this stage, but who knows. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.
Literary Escapism: Is she the only clone baby?
Keri Arthur: Yes, Dia is the only one who survived.
Literary Escapism: Misha, we all know what happened to him.
Keri Arthur: I could’ve cried when I did that to him.
Literary Escapism: That was very surreal almost, all of a sudden it was bam!
Keri Arthur: I quite liked him as a character. I thought about continuing him on as a character, but then I thought kill him off.
Literary Escapism: He was redeemable.
Keri Arthur: He was.
Literary Escapism: Even though he was in on it with Talon, he didn’t seem redeemable.
Keri Arthur: Yeah, he wasn’t. He was mad.
Literary Escapism: Misha, on the other hand, was still redeemable.
Keri Arthur: He did love her, in his own way.
Literary Escapism: Which series would you recommend they start with?
Keri Arthur: Riley. It’s my best writing today.
Literary Escapism: I haven’t read the other series yet, besides Myth and Magic – I already own that one, which one should I go to next?
Keri Arthur: Well, the Spook Squad, even though it’s not finished, it’s all about the cloning and stuff like that. I really like that series.
Literary Escapism: Is it Riley’s world?
Keri Arthur: No, it’s a totally different world. Nikki & Michael is quite good, but that is the first series I wrote.
Literary Escapism: That doesn’t mean anything?
Keri Arthur: You can tell. My sex scenes in that series were not quite as good. They were okay but over the years, I learned how to write them better
I learned how to write them better. You know, because up until that series, the Nikki & Michael series, I really hadn’t written sex scenes. I think the more you write them, the better you get at them.
Literary Escapism: The imaginary world you have created, how do you separate that from your every day life? When you’re writing, you writing that’s it, or can you go out into the world and say this is an interesting little scenario, how can I use this later on?
Keri Arthur: I think you always take it someplace where, in real life, that you can include; like the start of Risa. I live on the top of a mountain range, I was driving across the mountain and there was fog and it looked like there were creatures in the fog and this line just came to me – I’ve always seen the reapers – and that’s the start of the Risa book. Just because of that whole thing. It just came to me and I used it in the book.
Literary Escapism: What are the reapers going to be? Are they visual, corporal or what?
Keri Arthur: They can gain flesh. They are an energy creature, but they can take on flesh.
Literary Escapism: Are they kind of like Wild Huntish?
Keri Arthur: No, they are soul guides. They are there when you die and they escort you to heaven or hell.
Literary Escapism: Where did the idea of the reapers come from? Are you pulling from folklore or legends?
Keri Arthur: Well, reapers are soul guides. That’s what they are in all the myths. I’ve just taken the myths and twisted them do what I want.
Literary Escapism: You have quite a few series in the urban fantasy genre. What was it about it that drew you to it? Have you always wanted to write in it?
Keri Arthur: I’ve always written fantasy, but I had a lot of trouble with the high fantasy. I wasn’t good enough for the world building, so when I discovered this whole urban fantasy, where I could use the real world that’s around me and yet populate it with all these fantastic creatures – brilliant, that’s where I am.
Literary Escapism: I would have to disagree about the world building after reading Riley. There are times I would love to be able to find…there’s no way I’m going to be able to find a werewolf club.
Keri Arthur: No, it’s sort of situated in real places, and you can twist that easy enough; but having to build the whole world by yourself…
Literary Escapism: I can see that. I like being able to go find something.
Keri Arthur: If you have a base to build on and you can go on from there.
Literary Escapism: Has there been any part of the Riley series that had gotten you stuck, or any novel in general? Like writer’s block?
Keri Arthur: I had a lot of trouble writing the sixth book.
Literary Escapism: How did you get out of it?
Keri Arthur: I just kept going. Just sit down and write. You can fix it up later.
Literary Escapism: Did you have to do a lot of fixing up?
Keri Arthur: Yeah, that one had a lot of revisions going back and forth between my editor and myself.
Literary Escapism: How many books are you writing at one time?
Keri Arthur: Usually one book at a time.
Literary Escapism: But you can have more than one book coming out in one year?
Keri Arthur: Yeah, it takes me about 3 months to write a book.
Literary Escapism: That’s all?
Keri Arthur: Yeah.
Literary Escapism: That’s short.
Keri Arthur: That’s the first draft. Then I take a couple of months to rewrite and edit it, ship it off to friends to read and then they comment.
Literary Escapism: When you’re not writing, what are you doing? Are you reading? What are you reading?
Keri Arthur: I’m always writing, but I do go to the gym in the morning and I write in the afternoon and I watch tv at night and that’s my life.
Literary Escapism: So you don’t read any books but you’re own?
Keri Arthur: I tend not to do a lot of reading. I love historicals. I read a lot of Eloisa James, but I don’t tend to read a lot in my genre. Well, I write urban fantasy, so I really don’t want to read it. I want to read something different. I read mysteries and horror – James Herbert and Stephen King Well, the earlier Stephen Kings.
Literary Escapism: What has been some of the response you’ve been getting as to why this is the last novel? Have they been asking why?
Keri Arthur: Yes. Everyone is asking why. They keep saying you can go on, but it just feels like a natural place to end it. I’ve done enough to the girl. How much more does she have to survive before it gets unbelievable I think is the question. She’s gone through a lot.
Literary Escapism: Especially considering she didn’t want to be where she was from the first. How does Jack come into play. I’m assuming he doesn’t want her out that easily. I mean, with all the testing they did in the first half.
Keri Arthur: They are still testing.
Contest Time! We have a copy of Moon Sworn to give away. All you have to do is answer this question: What are you going to miss about the Riley Jenson series?
As always, there’s more ways of getting your name in the hat (remember, these aren’t mandatory to enter, just extra entries):
- +1 for each place you post about today’s contest on your blog, social network, or anywhere you can. Digg it, stumble it, twit it, share it with the world. Wherever you share it, make sure you add a link to it along with your answer.
- +1 to any review you comment on, however, comments must be meaningful. Just give me the title of the review and I’ll be able to figure it out from there.
- +1 If you are a follower of Literary Escapism on Facebook and/or Twitter
- +10 Purchase any of Keri’s novels through LE’s Amazon store or through the Book Depository sometime during this contest and send a copy of the receipt VIA email for your purchase to: jackie AT literaryescapism DOT com. Each purchase is worth ten entries.
There is one thing I am adding to my contests now…the winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.