Queen’s Park is filled with smiling faces of the crowd that Toronto’s annual Word on the Street has drawn. White reading tents are scattered throughout the lawn and streets, as local authors and readers come together to celebrate their passion for books. Joining in this celebration is author Kelley Armstrong whom takes a few minutes out of her busy schedule to enjoy the sights and answer a few questions on her work and Toronto.
Kelley Armstrong is a Canadian success story in the publishing industry. Over the past decade she has become aNational, New York Times and Globe and Mail best selling author- a record that’s sure to have captured the attention of her favourite author Stephen King. Raised in Southern Ontario, Kelley is familiar with the popular tourist sites of Toronto, including the Royal Ontario Museum and Queen’s Park. “I love, love, love Queen’s Park,” Armstrong claims, “Queen’s Park is a great place to write and the museum is a great place to hang out.”
It comes as no surprise that she uses Toronto as the setting for many of her novels, including her first release, Bitten, the first in the Women of the Otherworld series. While there were those who didn’t feel that this was a wise decision according to Armstrong, “I was told ‘please change all that to the U.S. or you will never sell it,’” Toronto’s downtown circuit truly comes to life in Bitten, through Kelley’s detailed descriptions of infrastructure and her consistency in name dropping known landmarks, including the University of Toronto.
Since her first release in 2002, Armstrong has written a total of 16 novels, two of which are mysteries set in rural Ontario. Armstrong’s novels work as roadmaps for those who are unfamiliar with Canada and its landmarks, “For me, not knowing Canada all that well, I felt as though Kelley showed me places I should visit and get to know,” writes Ms. Nailor, a local Chapters employee who was born in the U.S. and casual acquaintance of Armstrong’s.
According to Armstrong the young adult genre is a great emergence in popular fiction. “Young adult is really strong right now,” she states after winning the Best Canadian Read award at the first Teen Read Awards the previous evening. The event was held at Six Degrees in Toronto’s downtown and presented by Indigo Books and Music Inc., whom state in their October issue of Insight that the young adult genre has grown by 150%, making it the second largest category after adult fiction.
With these numbers it’s safe to claim that Toronto teens and adults are no stranger to the genre and Armstrong’s work. Her most recent release, The Gathering, the first in a new young adult trilogy, is set on Vancouver Island and is now on shelves.
When asked to describe Kelley’s personality Nailor writes, “down to earth… with a sincere sort of interest in people and her world,” a sentiment that many fans who meet Kelley would agree with. Considering the love she’s shown our great city it’s no wonder we love her back.
Check out the interview that started it all.