An Interview with Dana Cameron
by Pamela James
MM2: Dana, What genres and how many books have you written?
Thanks for having me, Pamela and Terri! I've written nine novels, including six in the Emma Fielding archaeology series, which is traditional mystery with an amateur sleuth. Most recently, I've been writing urban fantasy, featuring archaeologist (and werewolf) Zoe Miller. There are three books in the Fangborn series: Seven Kinds of Hell, Pack of Strays, and Hellbender.
If you're counting short stories, by the time this year's done, I'll have written twenty-one short stories. They're all over the map, genre-wise, including traditional mystery, thriller, historical, noir, urban fantasy, Sherlockian pastiche, erotica, and horror.
MM2: What is your latest book and give us some insight into your series characters?
The latest book is Hellbender. Zoe Miller is an archaeologist who discovers she's a werewolf and Fangborn, a family of werewolves, vampires, and oracles dedicated to protecting humanity. She wasn't born and raised within the family, however, so she's trying to get a handle on who they are and why her powers are different.
MM2: What comes first the setting, character, plot or that niggling voice of a conversation or thread?
Most often, it's the setting. That sets the mood for me, and tells me who will be there, what's at stake, and why.
MM2: What would you like your readers to know about you and your characters?
Well, my characters and I seem to share an interest in archaeology (my first profession) and history, the idea of women and power, and getting to know a cultural context through traveling (and eating!). Unlike some of my characters, I am not a werewolf with superpowers or a “recovering” covert operative with a flexible sense of right and wrong.
MM2: Do you belong to any writer' groups? What are your favorite conventions?
I've worked with writers groups and they did great things for my writing—I heartily recommend them! Right now, I act as a beta reader with two other authors, who return the favor for me.
MM2: Have you discovered any new books that you want to read?
Recently, I finished Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts and really liked it. I also loved The Martian, by Andy Weir, and The Girl with All the Gifts, by Mike Carey. I'm looking forward to reading Rob Hart's New Yorked, Eloisa James's The Duke Is Mine, Jaye Wells' Cursed Moon, and Laura Ann Gilman's Silver on the Road. I read a lot of comics and can hardly wait for each new episode of Bitch Planet and Captain Marvel (both by Kelly Sue DeConnick) and Ms. Marvel (by G. Willow Wilson).
MM2: Summer is almost here. My question is when you are not penning books or doing promo for books, where and what can we find you doing?
Actually, I'll be spending most of my time writing! I'll be going to NECON for the first time. Any spare time I have, I'll probably go to a museum or out to eat; I like spending time hanging with friends on our back deck.
MM2: Is there someone you would like to thank for mentoring, writing advice or editing your books?
Oh, sure! My husband is my alpha reader, and Charlaine Harris, Toni Kelner (AKA Leigh Perry), and my agent, Josh Getzler are my most important beta readers. I got a huge amount of perspective and advice from my group leader, David Bradley, when I attended the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.
MM2: Where do you like to vacation? Your favorite meal, movie, childhood memory?
I travel a lot for work and then go farther afield for fun! Most recently, Japan, France, and Germany, and soon, Portugal and Spain. My favorite meal...that's hard to pin down. Anything that's done well, but I'm a sucker for a good pizza. I love small food—Turkish meze, Spanish tapas, Chinese dim sum, Japanese casual kaiseki or bento boxes. And cheese, I adore cheese. How much space do I have? LOL
Favorite movie? Another tough one. Off the top of my head, let's go with “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Desperado,” and something by John Woo.
Favorite childhood memory? The first time I went to London.
MM2: Are there any books about series writing or in general writing books that you have found helpful?
I always recommend Stephen King's On Writing and Anne LaMotte's Bird by Bird. Those are the books that have most informed my writing process.
MM2: Lastly direct us to your website and leave us with some writing words of wisdom.
My website is www.danacameron.com. As practical advice (don't know about the wisdom part), I'd say, if you're going to write, commit to it every day, even if it's just a few minutes. Challenge yourself. Finish the book or story—that's huge! Then get increasingly tough and useful criticism from people you trust. Go where the other writers and agents go, and learn about the industry.
Thanks for having me!