Interview with Erica Cameron, Author of Sea of Strangers
I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
It’s so hard to pick because every book I’ve written has some special element that means a lot to me, but there is something incredibly wonderful about The Ryogan Chronicles. I love the world, the characters, and the story told there. I also love that I finally got to populate a world that I initially created back in college. That means more than I know how to explain.
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
In 2007-2008, I wrote my first ever original novel. It took the concept of angels and gave them a new origin story and whole new mythology. There was a lot I loved about that concept and the story itself, but it was my first novel and I made a lot of plotting mistakes I didn’t know how to fix. Although I did steal certain concepts and systems from that novel, it won’t ever be published.
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
Sea of Strangers is my third release in 2017, so I have to go with the option one! I am always working on something, and often have a few projects waiting in the wings. It’s hard to find the time and mental energy to work on all of them at once, but I am lucky enough to have a very wonderful editorial team at Entangled who make sure my books go out into the world as polished and pretty as they possibly can be.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
Thankfully, I’m not nearly so particular! I do almost all my writing in Word on a laptop, but I can write by hand if needed. Sometimes the change of method helps, actually. I have written in bed, at my desk, on a couch, an airplane, a car, on my phone on break at work—pretty much anywhere. I do enjoy writing at coffee shops, though! So long as I can get a comfortable seat somewhere, that is.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
I have had numerous beta readers over the years, and they have all helped me develop my work in wonderful ways. I especially like an early reader who asks questions. Sometimes they notice patterns or missing information that I never saw, and them asking questions about those things helps me even out the rough edges of the story. My family is incredibly supportive, but they tend to read the final versions rather than the early ones. As for editors, I’ve never actually paid for editorial services. When deciding to work with an editor at a publishing house, though, I need to know what they see in the story and what they’re hoping I can change in it. If their vision doesn’t match mine, the partnership won’t work. Everyone working on a novel needs to be heading toward the same end goal or the whole project will turn into a mess.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
There is a dearth of good independent bookstores in my area! The best one is about an hour away—Books & Books in Coral Gables. There are several Barnes & Nobles, though, and I even work at one close to home! It’s a brilliant job, but also difficult. I want to bring home so many books I don’t have the time to read or the space to keep! I do read electronically a lot, and I don’t mind that format. However, seeing my bookshelves full to the point of groaning under the weight of my library is something I won’t easily give up.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
- childhood?Once I got to the point of picking my own books and authors, I fell in love with fantasy! Tamora Pierce was my first ever favorite author.
- adolescence?I stuck to the sci-fi/fantasy realm for a long time, but I also tended to read mysteries my dad left around the house. He was going through a James Patterson phase at that point. Those were also the years I introduced myself to Anne McCaffrey’s Pern world.
- young adult? College interrupted my reading years (it’s hard to read anything you’re not assigned!), but once I graduated I also branched out. Romance. Classic literature. I discovered authors like Georgette Heyer, Jasper Fforde, Jim Butcher, Jacqueline Carey, Brandon Sanderson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and more. So many more. It helped, of course, that I worked at Borders Bookstore for a couple years after college. It’s also what brought me back to the world of young adult, a section that didn’t really exist when I actually was a young adult. [Rose: A woman after my own heart!]
- adult? These days I read mostly young adult, middle grade, and adult (though mainly sci-fi/fantasy). Most recently, I read and loved Fish in a Treeby Lynda Mullaly Hunt, This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, and The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. Do you manage your own profiles or did you choose someone else to?
I’m on several social media sites and it’s all my own posts and comments! Which is probably why my Facebook and Tumblr pages are all but ignored. Social media is time consuming, and I only have so many hours in the day. I used to be way more involved online and would post several times a day on my various accounts, but I’ve been forced by necessity to pare it back until I mainly check notifications, answer direct messages and comments, and then log off again. I like being able to talk to friends across the country (and the world), however, if I have to choose between social media and either writing time or sleep, social media usually loses.
About Sea of Strangers (The Ryogan Chronicles, #2):
Know your enemy if you want to survive…
The only way for Khya to get her brother back alive is to kill Varan—the immortal ruler who can’t be killed. But not even Varan knew what he was doing when he perverted magic and humanity to become immortal.
Khya’s leading her group of friends and rebels into the mountains that hold Varan’s secrets, but if risking all their lives is going to be worth it, she has to give up everything else—breaking the spell that holds her brother captive and jeopardizing her deepening relationship with Tessen, the boy who has been by turns her rival and refuge since her brother disappeared. Immortality itself might be her only answer, but if that’s where Khya has to go, she can’t ask Tessen or her friends to follow.
About Erica Cameron:
Erica Cameron is the author of books for young adults including the Ryogan Chronicles, the Assassins duology, and The Dream War Saga. She also co-authored the Laguna Tides novels with Lani Woodland. An advocate for asexuality and emotional abuse awareness, Erica has also worked with teens at a residential rehabilitation facility in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale.