Q&A with Kelley Armstrong, Author of City of the Lost

Read this exclusive Q&A with Kelley Armstrong, author of City of the Lost, and then make sure you're signed in and comment for a chance to win an advanced copy of Kelley's first Casey Duncan thriller!

This isn’t the first time you’ve written a female investigator; how is homicide detective Casey Duncan different from police officer Nadia Stafford?

Like Casey, Nadia has a murder in her past. In her case, she didn’t get away with it—never even tried. She openly shot a serial killer and suffered the loss of her job, media attention, public shaming, etc.

In the novels, Nadia’s a part-time hitman struggling not to justify her actions with the label of vigilante. Casey is a much better detective—smarter, more skilled, and more methodical. Nadia is outwardly more personable, more friendly, but more deeply damaged.

Read the first two chapters of City of the Lost!

When I create characters, I sometimes explore variations on a theme, and that’s what I did with Nadia and Casey—one seemingly similar moment in the past leading to two very different lives and characters.

In City of the Lost, Rockton is a place where people trying to escape their pasts can disappear. Can you tell us about what inspired Rockton?

I blame my agent. We were talking, and she mentioned hearing/reading that enough people go missing every year to populate a small town. That got me thinking, “What if there was an actual town where people went to disappear?”

What would be the hardest part about moving to Rockton for you?

Not having my laptop. Also, not having chocolate and decent coffee. I’d be fine with it overall. I’d just need a lot of empty journals to write in.

I know you’re a huge Shakespeare fan. Who do you think is one tragic character who could’ve gotten a happy (or, at least, less tragic ending) if they had moved to Rockton instead?

Tough question. So many of Shakespeare’s tragic characters were fighting to gain or keep power and position, and that need wouldn’t be satisfied in Rockton, where they could rise up and rule over…a town of two hundred people.

I’d say ship Romeo off to Rockton. Listen, kid, you obviously don’t have enough purpose in your life, falling in love with one girl after another, getting in duels, how about we send you to Rockton and get you chopping wood for a few years, see how that works out.

If you were stuck in an isolated town like Rockton, what books would you bring to keep you entertained?

I’m presuming my selection would be limited, so I’d want all new reads. I’d pick books that I’ve heard are very good and just haven’t had the time to read. Or, well, more accurately, books that I know are supposed to be very good, but that I haven’t been particularly inclined to read. Kind of like catching up on my literary homework.

What do you want your readers to walk away from this book thinking?

With any of my books, I want readers to walk away entertained—to feel it was a satisfying way to spend some time. If they find more to think about, that’s great, but the core purpose is entertainment.

Was there a specific album or playlist you listened to when writing City of the Lost?

I always write to silence. I feel a bit envious when other writers talk about coming up with playlists, but the only time I have music playing is as “white noise” in a café or on an airplane, so I can write instead of inadvertently eavesdropping on conversations!

See also: Murder Ballads: Alex Segura and Lisa Levy Talk Music and His Pete Fernandez Series

We love your title. What do you think makes these people “lost”?

They’ve physically removed themselves from the world, but they also all have a reason for needing to do so, something they’ve “lost” in their own lives. For those like Casey or Will, Rockton is about more than hiding—it’s about finding what they’ve lost and getting back to themselves.

Regarding the title, though, when my Canadian editor decided they’d keep this one, I did comment that “City” isn’t entirely accurate for a place with only a couple hundred people. It should be Village of the Lost, but that sounds like a whole different genre!

You were co-authors with Melissa Marr on The Blackwell Pages. Who is one mystery writer you’d love you write a book with?

If I’m going with a fantasy pairing, I don’t have to restrict myself to living authors, right? My choice, then, would be Patricia Highsmith. I love working with morally and ethically questionable characters, and she wrote some of the best examples of that.

Did any other books inspire or influence this book?

No books, but there is a television inspiration, which is actually name-checked in the novel. Deadwood. I loved the show and always wanted to capture that Wild West vibe in a contemporary novel. I rewatched the full series while I was writing City of the Lost.

Check out Kelley's Deadwood-inspired Daily Steal!

What would be your murder weapon of choice?

You know, I’ve never considered that. For me, it’s always about which weapon a character would choose to use or to carry. I suppose if I had to kill someone, I’d probably go with a bullet to the base of the skull, a CNS shot, as quick and painless as possible.

What are you currently binging on Netflix?

I just finished Jessica Jones. Thirteen episodes, which took me…two months to watch. For me, sadly, that is binging. I think the only show I’ve watched faster is Luther and only because the seasons are so short!

Comment below for a chance to win a copy of City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

City of the Lost Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2016/04/qaa-with-kelley-armstrong-author-of-city-of-the-lost-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) April 27, 2016. Sweepstakes ends 12:59 p.m. ET May 6, 2016. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

To learn more or order a copy, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at IndieBound!Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Books a MillionBuy at Amazon


Kelley Armstrong graduated with a degree in psychology and then studied computer programming. Now, she is a full-time writer and parent, and she lives with her husband and three children in rural Ontario, Canada.


  1. Laurence Coven

    A new series is always an exciting thing to look forward to.

  2. leftyonkey

    I love mysteries and would love to find a new series. I also blog about books at Baer Books of Facebook and Blogspot. Thanks!

  3. Laura Shangraw

    This looks like a great book.

  4. Elizabeth brown

    Looking forward to reading book 2, if there is going to be one. City of the Lost only took me 3 days to read, I loved it so much.

  5. Elizabeth brown

    Not sure why my name is in red I have registered

  6. Todd Henson

    I’m in. I really enjoyed the other posts related to this book and Kelley Armstrong. Love the outdoors and love reading great fiction set in the outdoors!

  7. Melissa Keith

    My husband, sister, and I would love this book. We read everything by Kelley Armstrong. Thanks for telling me about CITY. I enjoyed the first 2 chapters. Now I’d like to win and read the rest, please. 🙂 Thanks!

  8. Cindy Hipolito

    Kelley Armstrong is a ‘new to me author’. Would like to read her work. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Valerie Mallette

    Thank you for the chance. I read the first two sample chapters of City of the Lost and would love to read more of it. My sister and I are big fans of Kelley Armstrong’s other series, especially her Otherworld and Cainsville series and would love to read this new one.

  10. pearl berger

    This mystery sounds intriguing and Kelley Armstrong is a wonderful author. Thanks.

  11. Susan Meek

    I’ve always enjoyed Armstrong’s books and I look forward to reading this one. If I win, I’d be happy to share with friends; I love sharing my favorite authors!

  12. ellie lewis

    What a gripping novel and a most interesting interview.

  13. Val Stark

    I love the premise of this novel. I really want another Nadia Stafford story as well. Have been a Kelley Armstrong fan for years…Go Elena & Clay!

  14. Bonnie Karoly

    I’m intrigue that there could be a town for people to hide. I love thrillers and would love to read City of the Lost.

  15. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    Women are interesting! Yes!

  16. Laurent Latulippe

    I’m looking forward to reading this.

  17. Yvonne

    I really enjoy reading mysteries with strong female characters. I’m looking forward to reading City of the Lost. I haven’t read any of Kelley Armstrong’s books before so I think I’ll start with this one to get hooked!

  18. Dorothy Young

    I really enjoy reading mysteries with strong female characters. I’m looking forward to reading City of the Lost. I haven’t read any of Kelley Armstrong’s books before so I think I’ll start with this one to get hooked!

  19. Michael Carter

    A very interesting interview.
    Please enter me in this sweepstakes.

  20. Tim Tocher

    Looking forward to a great read!

  21. Susanne Troop

    Love to read!

  22. Judy Bryant

    Wonderful interview! I’ve recently moved, changed my life drastically, and need to zone out with this great book for a day or two.

  23. Eileen O'Keefe

    Have read the excerpts and they have me wanting to read the novel. Kelley Armstrong is one of my favorite authors. Her writing style, no matter the subject, just clicks with me. Ms. Armstrong stated she wants her readers to be entertained at the end of a novel; I can attest to the fact that her novels always are! I have never been disappointed.

  24. lasvegasnv

    looks different

  25. Alyson Widen

    Silence for a writing environment is conducive to no distractions. I love that you have a strong female POV in your thrillers and that they don’t always have it all together.

  26. suzanne51

    the cover art is terrific!

  27. Barbara

    Sounds like a unique, terrific premise!

  28. Suzanne Williams

    forgot to log in, the cover art is terrific!

  29. Greg

    Looking forward to this new series…

  30. Patti Short

    Sounds interesting!

  31. vicki wurgler

    love to win I have not read any books from this author

  32. ravensfan

    Would love to win this book.

  33. susan beamon

    Sounds like an interesting idea for a story. Where do all the people who vanish go?

  34. Darlene Slocum

    Unusual characters. Sounds like a good read!

  35. Dan Carr

    sign me up!

  36. Beth Talmage

    I enjoyed the interview so much that I am certain I’ll settle right into the book–the author’s voice seems very familiar to me. Thanks for the introduction, Criminal Element!

  37. Julie Daniels

    Great interview! I love Kelley Armstrong and can’t wait to read City of the Lost! I especially loved her answer about Romeo moving to Rockton!

  38. Julie Daniels


  39. Elizabeth

    I’ve haven’t read Kelly Armstong yet but want to. This beginning of a series would be a good place to start.

  40. Susan Hoover

    I love the idea of a city for the lost. If it has the atmosphere of Deadwood, I am going to try it.

  41. Caro Rogers

    Ah! An author I have not yet read. Will check her out.

  42. Saundra K. Warren


  43. Vernon Luckert

    Looks like an interesting read!

  44. Kyle Johnicker

    Always time for a good thriller!

  45. Sharon Strickland

    I love to read a good mystery and look forward to reading this new one by Kelley Armstrong

  46. Megan Wessels

    I am a third of the way through the e-book and I love it. The story is unlike any other Detective novel I have read due to the setting and circumstances driving the story forward.

  47. jacqueline hulse

    Loved the interview! Can’t wait to read the book

  48. Sara Mitchell

    I’m an Otherworld addict, but I’m really excited for Kelley to drag me back to my mystery-loving roots with this series! The excerpts have been very enjoyable.

Comments are closed.