Monday, July 6, 2009

An Interview with Dana Cameron

1. Dana, tell us about what you are currently writing and your writing schedule?
At the moment, I'm working on a short story and an archaeological thriller. I going in the morning and keep a regular schedule, trying to write five or six pages a day.

2. Okay now we want to know about the Malice Award and your future writing plans?
Winning the Agatha for "The Night Things Changed" was an absolutely wonderful surprise. I'm so grateful Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner invited me to contribute to WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE. The Agatha for the short story got me working on a novel based on the characters, which I've finished. Writing urban fantasy wasn't something I'd tried before, and I've been having a blast with it. It's not as different from my other work as you might imagine and I really love the world.

3. Tell us about your short stories and your awards?
In 2007, when I won the Anthony for Best Paperback Original for my Emma Fielding mystery, ASHES AND BONES, I was also nominated for an Anthony for Best Short Story for a historical mystery, "The Lords of Misrule." "The Night Things Changed," in addition to winning the Agatha, has been nominated for an Anthony and a Macavity, and I'm hugely excited-and honored-by those nominations. I have a short story called "Femme Sole," which will appear in BOSTON NOIR later this year, and another short urban fantasy story that will come out next year. I've been able to learn a lot from writing short stories, and have been able to try my hand at a lot of different subgenres: historical, romance, urban fantasy, noir. They're a super opportunity to learn and stretch yourself as a writer.

4. How many books have you written?
I've written six Emma Fielding mysteries, which were published by Avon. I have two more completed books-an espionage thriller and an urban fantasy that I'm polishing now.

5. What advice do you have for the novice mystery writer?
Finish your book (or short story), then worry about things like promotion, finding an agent, etc. Writing is the most important thing. Find folks who will give you respectful and helpful criticism. And try new things, when you have the opportunity to do so.

6. Now for the fun questions....what is your favorite meal, dessert, and place to travel?
Favorite meal? It's hard to say, but usually, I'm most happy with really beautifully cooked fish. Isn't that boring? For dessert, I love apple pie with cheese or a hot fudge sundae and I adore any kind of cheese served with fruit and nuts, savory mixed with sweet.

When I can, I like to alternate traveling to places with loads of museums and restaurants and (of course) ruins, and then make the next trip a very quiet one, sitting on a beach some place. This year, we hope to go to Turkey and explore the history and archaeology there.

7. How do you plot your books and stories?
With the Emma books, because I knew the archaeology so well, I'd start with location. That would tell me who was there, what the crime might be, and what the motives might be. For the other novels and stories, I get to know a character first, and then by paying attention to what the character says, and how she says it, I figure out what the rest of the story is. I don't outline, and I usually try to write scenes as they come to me, even if it's not in order. Then I organize them in what I hope is an exciting, logical way, and that tells me more about the story, too.

8. Do you have some favorite minor characters?
If you mean from my books, I really like Michael Glasscock, Dora Sarkes-Robinson, and Derek Temple from the Emma books. And there's something about Officer Weems, in "The Night Things Changed," that I need to learn more about. Usually the secondary characters I like most, from any book, are the ones who are interesting on the surface and also hint that there's something else, just beneath.

9. After a writing session how do you relax? By reading, taking a walk or some other way?
I try to do something totally rote after I write, just to reenter the real world. Folding laundry, doing dishes, picking up, going to the gym, or going for a walk. Anything that doesn't require a lot of thought or planning. It's a way to put some distance between the mayhem I'm writing about and the order I want in my non-writing life.

10. What would you like to say to your readers?
Thank you! Everyone has been so enthusiastic and supportive of all my efforts, and that means the world to me!

11. Tell us about your book covers and if you have any favorite book covers?
I've been very, very happy with my book covers all along, and I think they're striking. I like the atmosphere they suggest, and I love the way the covers have changed, slightly, as the books have changed, getting a little darker. I've always felt the cold, looking at the icy cover of MORE BITTER THAN DEATH, and I've always felt loneliness, looking at the cover of ASHES AND BONES. They nailed the idea of those books.

12. What is your website addy?My website is I also blog with the seven fantastic writers of the Femmes Fatales:

13. What writing organizations do you belong to and where are you signing books this summer?
I belong to Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the American Crime Writers League. Getting involved with SinC or MWA is such a terrific way to get to know the community and the business. And I've mentioned the Femmes Fatales.

This summer will be pretty quiet for me, but things will get crackling in the fall! I'll be attending Bouchercon in Indianapolis, the launch of BOSTON NOIR at the Boston Book Festival, and then the New England Crime Bake in Dedham, Massachusetts.

14. Lastly give us a glimpse into your personal life and leave us with a quote or writing wisdom that you try to live and write by?
There are three quotes that I try to keep in mind when I'm working (and I'm paraphrasing these):
1. You need to turn over an entire library to write a single book. (Dr. Johnson)
2. Writing hard and reading hard go together. (Stephen King)
3. You need a little bit of "uh-huh" and a lot of "oh, yeah!" (Peter Buck, R.E.M.)
In other words, do your homework, learn the craft, and then make it something YOU'D want to read!

Dana, Thank you for the interview.

My pleasure! Thank you for having me, Pamela and Terri!


  1. Great interview - and I love that you find inspiration from both Peter Buck and Dr. Johnson! Very excited to read the new works.

  2. Nice interview, Dana. We met briefly at Malice. I'll be at Bouchercon and Crime Bake as well and will look forward to saying hi again. :-)

  3. What a great interview. Can't wait to start your books. And from one cheese person to another apple pie just isn't apple pie without a good sharp cheddar.
    Mare F

  4. I fold laundry, too! (You and I are so glam.)
    It's lovely--you start out with a mess, and all you have to do is persevere, and you wind up with something perfect and organized. Very rewarding. And certainly a metaphor for..something...

    Can't wait to read the new stuff!

  5. Thanks, Clea! I'm happy to take inspiration anywhere I can find it!

    Rachel, definitely, make sure to say hi!

    Mare, I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview! And, yay, sharp cheddar!

    Hank, it is the glamorous life, isn't it? Besides the organization and the lack of creative thought that comes with doing laundry, I love the achievable nature of the task!


Review: Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers and Felonies by Donna Andrews and Shari Randall

Each story in this collection features an animal as an important part of the story. Some of my favorite stories were "As the Crow F...