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We are writers mainly from Australia and New Zealand who write speculative fiction with romantic elements. Be it fantasy, paranormal, dark urban fantasy, futuristic and everything in between.

Saturday 30 July 2011

Darklight On... Keri Arthur

my apologies for being late with this post.

Welcome back Keri to the Darklight On!!

Please tell us a little about your road to publication.

God, how long do you have? lol I was writing fantasy and paranormal romance in the late 80's, early 90's, way before there was a real demand for it. You could say I was well ahead of my time. :)

Though I'd written a number of books by the early 90's, it wasn't until I wrote Dancing with the Devil that I thought I finally had a book strong enough to publish. This is the book that I entered in a major fantasy comp run by Random House Australia (I think it was the George Turner Prize, but I'm not 100%--god, it was 20 years ago! lol) It was a finalist, but didn't win. I was later contacted by the editor, who said it had come down to a choice between me and the winner, and the judges had thought that while there was a market for my sort of book in Australia, it was dominated by American authors, and they couldn't see an Australian making an impact. So I totally gave up on the Aussie market, and headed to the US. Which was no easier.

I sent it out to lots of agents and editors, and lots of rejections followed. Although Laurell K Hamilton's books were on the rise in popularity by then, the genre hadn't yet hit its stride and to be honest, I think an unknown author from Australia was just placed in the too hard basket. It got to the stage where I really had no where else to submit, so I decided to try e-publishing. Now remember, this was 1998. The e-book market had yet to explode, the kindle wasn't even a twinkle in amazon's eyes, and there were probably only three or four e-publishers around. I sent a query to Hard-Shell, who were the 'big' e-publishers on the block back then, (they were e-pub only) and one to Imajinn, who were e-book and trade, and the new boys. Both got back to me with a request pretty quickly, so I sent them off. ImaJinn also rejected fairly quickly, but the editor said if I was willing to make rewrites according to her comments, she'd look at it again. So, I rewrote it and sent it back. She loved the rewrites and wanted to publish me, so I got straight back to hard-shell, told them the situation, and asked whether they were still interested in the e-rights or not, giving them a deadline to reply. It took them nearly 3 weeks to get back to me (and only after numerous emails) by which time I'd signed away the electronic and print rights to ImaJinn. I figured if they couldn't be bothered replying, I wasn't going to leave my writing career in their hands.

I ended up publishing 12 books and 1 novella with ImaJinn, and even by today's standards, they sold really well (up until Bantam bought the US rights for all the books last year, I was still earning mid four figures each royalty half). In about 2003 I started writing Full Moon Rising

I knew from the very beginning that this book had a bigger feel about it, and that if any book was going to break me into the US mainstream, this would be it. But again, rejections followed, although this time, they were good ones. Then I queried one agent who loved it, worked with me on it, but in the end decided she just didn't know where to place it because it was so cross genre. Which was somewhat depressing, but I refused to give up. I was then given a recommendation to the Irene Goodman Agency, and queried Miriam Kriss without too much hope. She sent an almost immediate request for the whole book, so I sent that off (again, without much expectation). So it was rather a surprise when she got back to me several days later saying she wanted to see the second book (which by that stage I'd finished) and that she wanted to represent me. Happy dancing ensued. Two weeks later, Full Moon Rising had been sent out, and we had ourselves an auction between three publishers. Bantam won, and I ended up selling a total of 11 books to them, seven of which hit the New York Times list.

And I've just sold three books to NAL.

What was your reaction when you first hit the NYT Best seller list?
Shock. Total shock. Then a lot of screaming and dancing. And then I went out and purchased some shoes to celebrate :)

Your latest release is Mercy Burns. Can you describe this book for us?
Mercy is the second book in the Myths and Magic series. Basically, in the first book--Destiny Kills--the hero Trae was looking for his sister Mercy before he got caught up with Destiny. Mercy Burns tells us just what, exactly, his little sister was doing.

You’ve had some fantastic covers. Do you get a say in how they look? Also I find it fascinating the difference between the US and UK covers. Have you any favourites?

I have no say in how they look--I can make slight changes, though. For example, the original concept for Darkness Unbound to me made it look like it was an inspirational. They wouldn't change the base design, so I requested they use darker colours and wings, and we ended up with the current cover. As for my favourites--I adore what Piatkus did for the last three or four Riley books. In fact, I used one of the covers as the basis for my website.

You recently went to both the RT Convention and RWA Nationals. How did you find these?
They're two very different beasts. RT is about fans, RWAm is about writers and business. I only went to New York because it was New York, and it gave me a chance to meet my editors--old and new--while writing it off on tax. RT I love, although this year it seemed more writer orientated than reader, and to me, wasn't as good as usual. If they keep heading that way, I probably won't go any more. Next year I'm actually tackling Comic Con for the first time

What is your writing routine like?
I write a minimum of 5 days a week, 5 pages a day, in the afternoon, after I've gone to gym. I also tend to write on the weekend if there's nothing else going on, and generally, I finish a book (first draft) every 3 months.

How do you go about writing your series?
I'm naturally a pantzer, and the first 4 Riley books were actually written that way. By the 5th book, there were far too many plot threads for my brain to remember, and after a major rewrite of the 5th book, I realized I had to at least do a vague outline. So, that's what I did, and still do. For the Dark Angels series, I actually have a 5 book outline (although it'll now be 6 books at least). Each book has about a third of a page of story plot in it. I can't write much more than that, because if I get too detailed, the story feels told to me. If my editor wants a full outline, I tend to do them after I've finished the draft (I'm usually fairly ahead of my deadlines. Right now, I'm writing book 4 of the Dark Angels series, and the first one isn't out until September!)

What’s the latest book you read?
I'm currently reading Burn the FatFeed the Muscles in an effort to budge the last bloody stubborn 10 kilos! But I've also got Jenna Black's Dark Descendant. I love her books, and not just because she's a fellow dame :)

You were recently nominated for the Lynne Wilding Meritorious Service Award. Congratulations. How did you feel when you heard?
Surprised and honoured!

Thanks Keri once again.
You can visit Keri on her website, and find her on 

Mercy Burns is out now!
Her upcoming books are Darkness Unbound (September 2011)
and Darkness Rising (October 2011)


  1. Always inspirational reading your story to publication and beyond, Keri. I can remember meeting you in an author chate session back in 2001 (my first RWA conference and I think there were about a dozen in the chat session). Paranormal hadn't taken off but it was great to meet someone else who wrote in that genre!

    Looking forward to seeing you at conference. :-)

  2. Kylie I was at the same chat.

    Keri, you are such an inspiration. Looking forward to the Dark Angel series.

  3. Hi :)

    Thank you for the wonderful interview with Keri!

    Thanks to Keri Arthur for sharing too.

    All the best,
    RK Charron

  4. Like Eleni I find you one of my inspirations. You, along with the other DarkSiders have been so welcoming and supportive. It always keeps me sane knowing someone else has a similar process and take on getting stories down. Thanks Keri for sharing. Looking forward to catching up at conference.

  5. RK, thanks for dropping in. Great to see you here.

  6. great interview, and Keri you're someone we all aspire to be =))

  7. You guys are making me blush! :)

  8. Great interview Keri. Wow, you're definitely ahead on those deadlines (:


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