An Interview with Cheryl Campbell, author of the Echoes Trilogy
Cheryl Campbell is the award-winning author of the Burnt Mountain fantasy series, consisting of five novels published between 2013 to 2016, and the Echoes Trilogy, which concludes in November 2021 with Echoes of Fate. Her varied background includes art, herpetology (the zoological study of amphibians and reptiles), emergency department and critical care nursing, and computer systems. She is a New England resident that lives a wandering lifestyle with her laptop and dog.
What inspired you to write the Echoes Trilogy?
Cheryl Campbell: When I was wrapping up my Burnt Mountain fantasy series, I had a wee hours of the morning dream about a young woman that had died and was told she could go back to Earth and live again to fix her mistakes—with a catch. She couldn’t take her memories with her and she’d already been through this process several times without success. Her other choice was to move on to the afterlife. I woke before I learned her decision, but I was so captivated by the idea that I wrote down the basics of the dream and it turned into a trilogy.
Echoes of Fate invites discussion of what makes someone “human”. How do the elements of science fiction serve that larger narrative?
People, myself included, tend to put labels on things and keep them organized within those categorizations, but there are a lot of gray areas that are hard, if not impossible, to reconcile. Dani is an alien Echo but she shows more kindness and humanity than some of the humans around her. Leveraging a science fiction story with aliens against the definition (whatever it is) of human made it easy to push and blur those gray areas even more. It was a way to challenge myself and my ways of thinking about things. It also changed how I view the world now.
What do you hope readers will take away from the final book in your Echoes trilogy?
One of the topics that all three books touch on is mental health including suicide. Dani has moments of darkness that make her consider taking her life. We need to talk more with each other about these things. Speaking about mental health should not be a hush-hush topic. I’ve lost friends to suicide. I don’t want to lose any more.
Echoes of Fate takes place in the New England region. Why did you choose this setting for a sci-fi story?
I grew up in the Deep South, but I found home in northern New England. Residents here are hardy folk that I’ve seen come together in beautiful ways to help out neighbors and even strangers. I wanted to capture that in my stories.
How did you develop your characters? And which of them do you have the strongest connection to?
I usually start with a general idea for main characters and supporting characters then they grow from there. At times it feels like they become their own individuals and change in ways I did not predict or even intend. Sometimes the supporting characters become much more and bubble up to become main characters. I love Dani and who she is, but I think I identify most with Mary. Mary was supposed to just be a supporting character, but she had a chemistry with Dani and this fun personality that I couldn’t ignore. My nature is to support and protect others, and that’s exactly what Mary does for Dani. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Mary turned out that way too.