MMSAI: There’s no question that there are a lot of books about Angels and Demons out there for Young Adults but you have a whole new twist on it, especially with your main character Ellie. Can you let everyone know where the idea came from for such an interesting story line?CAM: I grew up in a faithful family and was the child of a Roman Catholic and a Protestant. It was interesting—and sometimes very difficult—to have a divided family like that. I remember a family member demanding that the crucifix be taken down from above my bedroom door, and I remember the Sunday when I was dragged out of a Protestant service. Despite these confusing hardships, I developed a strong interest to study both denominations. I became so fascinated with the similarities and differences across all religions both modern and ancient, and when I sat down to write Angelfire, I wanted to incorporate beliefs and ideas from across the globe and time. There is a lot of Eastern lore mixed in with the mostly Christian-Judeo and Islamic world-building.
MSSAI: You have such a knack for impeccable attention detail and it really increases the enjoyment of both Angelfire and Wings of the Wicked, what challenges if any did you face bringing your cast of characters and scenes to life?CAM: Thank you! When other authors go for the more lyrical writing, I tend to be much more cinematic. I write to entertain and to tell a fun, and sometimes gory, story. I’ve never really had an issue creating and describing characters and sets. I see everything crystal clear in my head. My biggest challenges are of the more internal sort. I stumble over internal monologues and emotions, and I have a hard time explaining the way my world works. I understand it completely in my head, but if it’s not something visual that I can describe, then I have difficulty making it make sense for a reader. My editor is constantly kicking me over it!
MMSAI: Wings of the Wicked is your second published novel, and the second in the Angelfire series. How was writing and publishing WotW different from Angelfire?CAM: Angelfire was a breeze to write. Wings of the Wicked, on the other hand, tried to kill me. Writing Wings focuses largely on the darker aspects and consequences of Ellie’s powers and her relationship with her Guardian, Will. As I said earlier, my greatest challenge is writing the internal conflicts and emotions that my character feel. Wings of the Wicked is very character-driven compared to Angelfire, which was a fun romp through the world of reapers. As an author, you play the roles of the entire crew of a movie set. You’re the writer, the director, the producers, the cinematographers, and the actors. You have to BE your characters to know how they feel. You have to get inside their heads at the same time you’re exploiting and torturing them. In a way, writers have to be a little masochistic. Ellie and Will experience so much joy and pain and peace and loss in Wings. While I wrote this book, I experienced that never-ending emotional rollercoaster as they did and I’m still kind of recovering from it.
MMSAI: Over on deviantART, and also in the header of your blog and website, there are incredible drawings and images of almost everything we find in your novels. What was it like the first time one of your characters was brought to life?CAM: I do most of the artwork myself and I usually have to sketch my characters at some point just to get it out of my system. My first attempt at commissioning artwork from someone else was for Angelfire, and it was pretty cool seeing someone else’s interpretation of my characters. Some turned out better looking than I imagined in my head!
MMSAI: What kind of a writer are you? A Pantser, a planner? Do you edit continually even through your first draft or just get everything out and then deal with the little bits later?CAM: I’m a planner. I write a 7-10k word outline for each book and I don’t go back to read or edit until the draft is complete. Usually I write in order, but if I’m stuck on a scene, then I’ll move on sometimes many chapters ahead. I’ve found that outlining makes an author’s life a billion times easier.
MMSAI: How long did it take to write Angelfire and what was your query process like?CAM: The first draft of Angelfire took me 39 days to write. I made the biggest aspiring writer mistake possible by querying the very DAY that I finished. Luckily, I wised up and spent a couple months editing and sent out a few more queries. It took two weeks for my first agent to call and offer. A second agent would offer only if I changed my reapers to angels, and I couldn’t do that without destroying my entire world, so I signed with the first agent. Everything happened pretty quickly, so it was a bit of a whirlwind!
MMSAI: Are you doing anything special to celebrate the release of Wings of the Wicked (out Jan 31st)CAM: My best friend Leah Clifford, author of A TOUCH MORBID, is coming to hang out with me and I believe we’ll solemnly swear to get up to no good. I’ll probably drive to every bookstore within 500 miles to play with my books like I did on Angelfire’s release day.
MMSAI: Are you projected into any of your characters, and if so who? On that same note, if you could be like any of your characters or posses any of their traits, what would they be and why?CAM: I think pieces of my personality are definitely in Ellie and Kate. Ellie has my snark and sense of humor, and Kate definitely taps into my sassiness and wild side. If I could borrow any trait belonging to my characters, it would be Ellie’s strength. When the odds are stacked against her, she still stays strong when I would buckle and hide. When writing her, my instinct is to make her do what I would do instead of stepping up to the plate, so she has taught me how to be brave. I really admire the person she has become.
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