I recently got the honor of interviewing new author, Erica Cameron – who’s book “Sing Sweet Nightingale (The Dream War Saga)” – was just released at the beginning of March. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the book (click here to see the review) – and was very pleasantly surprise that it wasn’t a “typical” paranormal story; it went deeper into the dreamworld, where the things of dreams and nightmares live…And looks at this gorgeous cover – how could you not want to read this awesome book!
So, without further ado – my first author interview:
When did your interest in writing begin?
I should have known as early as middle school that I wanted to be a writer. In eighth grade my language arts teacher told us to pair up and create a picture book. I’ve always hated group assignments, so I asked her if I could work on my own. Instead of a picture book, I turned in a 40-page mystery novella. (What can I say? I was reading a lot of my dad’s James Patterson books back then) That story was laughably bad, but how many eighth graders write stories that long? The problem back then was that I didn’t really acknowledge authoring as a possibility. They don’t talk about that as a career. Journalist, maybe, but no one ever mentions the people who write all those books in the library. It wasn’t until college that I took creative writing classes and truly considered that career path. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I realized I couldn’t see myself doing anything else! From 2007 to 2010, I worked on a couple of different projects and attempted to find an agent. While I got some interest, I didn’t find anyone willing to sign me. In 2010 I wrote Sing Sweet Nightingale and that’s where my actual career began.
Have you based any characters off real people?
Consciously? None. I actually try to avoid that if possible. Even as far as naming characters after people I know. Honestly, I don’t want to have to worry about what the person who actually exists thinks about what the character I’ve mimicked after them has done! And that doesn’t only apply to mimic characters. If I know someone really well, I will probably never use that name in a book. Obvious exceptions kind of have to be made for more common names like John, Kelly, Mark, and Elizabeth.
How/ where did you find inspiration?
This is one of the best and worst questions to answer because my answer doesn’t help much. It’s incredibly non-specific!
I can and have gotten inspiration from the most random of things. My friend and I wrote an entire contemporary novel based on the idea of two people meeting at an airport and a random act of kindness. I conceived an entire fantasy world around the question, “what would a world based on aggression look like?” Another story idea came out of an almost-accident I witnessed while driving one day. The important part of all of this is the questions. Coming up with stories is asking questions and one thing I’ve realized is that the more you ask questions, the more questions you find out in the world that you want to answer. That right there is the key to inspiration as far as I can tell. Always ask questions.
What are your favorite/ least favorite parts of being an author?
I have a feeling that the answer to this question will change a lot over the years, but here is my answer for now:
Favorite: It’s kind of a tie. First, the editing process because that’s when the story becomes all polished and shiny and wonderful but I still don’t have to worry about reviews and expectations and all of that. Second, meeting and talking to readers about the book! I still can’t get over how cool it is that anyone has even read this thing I’ve been working on for the past three years!
Least Favorite: The moment of the editing process where the word “cut” comes into play. It’s usually one of the later rounds of edits and I hate that part. Seriously. Also, marketing and self-promotion. I’m so not good at all that!
How do you come up with the character’s names?
I love names! As far as finding them goes, I have a fantastic baby name app on my phone. I also use a lot of census sites to find interesting and uncommon first and last names. How I give each character their name changes a lot, though. Sometimes I look for names that mean a certain thing to reflect a trait or ideology I want the character to have. Sometimes I give the characters names based on something that would be important to their family. Sometimes it’s a little more metaphorical and a representation of dueling parts of their personality. There are lots of different reasons why my characters have the names they do, but one thing you can be sure of is that there is a reason.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spare time is about as common as unicorns! 😉 When I have it, though, I read a lot. I also have a weakness for movies. My other creative hobby is making jewelry! Nothing complex, but I like sparkly things and it tends to be cheaper to make my own. Other than that, it was a standing joke at my old office that I’ll go anywhere as long as there’s good food. 😀
How long does it take to write a book – start to finish, with all the editing and all?
Honestly, I don’t know! Are we talking about my personal editing process or the official editing? Either way, I’m still not sure I know. Some books I can write in six to eight weeks. Other books I’ve been working on sporadically for a year or more. I’m not fantastic at self-editing so my editorial rounds are usually pretty quick. But when working with my agent or my editors, we can trade notes and versions for months before we work out all the kinks. Every book is different!
What is to come for Mari and Hudson…can we get a little “sneak peak” (and how many books are you planning for the series)?
I wish I could say!! I will tell you that the series will probably take a shape most people won’t expect, but I can’t say more than that! The cover and the blurb for Deadly Sweet Lies will release on May 30 and then I can start sharing more details about the series! The reveal will be simultaneous live at BEA in New York City and online, so if you’re going to be at BEA stop by the Spencer Hill booth to see me! 😀