Friday, March 18, 2011
Interview with author J E Cammon
Today, my guest is speculative fiction author J. E. Cammon, discussing Where Shadows Lie - Bay City.
1) Tell me a little about your book.
The book is set in a city not unlike Baltimore, Maryland, and centers around the uneasy friendship that develops between three characters from metaphorically different worlds. Each is my take on an archetypal supernatural figure, and the conflict between them is the same thing that serves as a kind of bonding agent: they’re different than mundane folk and have nowhere else to turn. The question becomes: is their being different enough from normal people enough to create lasting connectivity between them?
2) What gave you the idea for this particular story?
In the very, very beginning of this project, I had just finished watching shows in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, and at its onset, the concept was my comprehensive take on the paranormal situation, top to bottom (vampires, demons, gods etc.). In addition to that context though, the story was also about the kinds of things that test friendships and what friendships even are, really.
3) Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
At this point, I’m a part-time writer, because it doesn’t pay any of my bills. I organize my writing time by treating it like a full time job, though, because that is my goal. I consider any time that I’m outlining, researching, writing, or editing as part of the time I need to spend to be a professional at the craft, so in a given week I try very hard to work enough that I feel productive. For long projects like novels, I try to do whatever it takes to complete a draft in a few months, and then spend at least half that time refining things.
4) When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been in love with stories, telling them and hearing them, for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I asked my parents a million questions; I walked around making sound effects, imagining myself hurtling through action sequences (sometimes in public). But thinking back, I first recognized my want of being a writer in my early years in college. I played video games with my roommate and friends, and spent more time coming up with exposition that fit into the game settings than I did actually playing the games. What’s more, I used my notebooks for class more for stories than I did for notes.
5) What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I try to put a lot into my writing, because it’s a way for me, personally, to throw questions out into the aether, but if the only thing my readers get out of my writing is a good read, I’m more than ecstatic.
6) Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why?
I write fantasy and science fiction. Generally, I prefer science fiction because it lets me expand on something that exists in our world already. Speculative fiction can lead one to a variety of places, from horror to creative non-fiction, from alternative reality, historical fiction and beyond simply by asking “What if?” So, I really enjoy sci fi because of the endless possibilities; I’m not constrained by something as inconsequential as “Oh, well that couldn’t happen.”
7) What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it?
I can’t speak for other writers, but for me personally, the toughest part is dealing with the outside perspective. In American society, a great deal of a person’s worth is determined by their “success” which translates to how much money they make. And it’s a blessing to get positive feedback from family and friends, but at the end of the day, in the most practical terms, its hard to turn that positive feedback into bare necessities. So, it becomes difficult to convince others, and eventually oneself, that what one is doing isn’t a hobby, that one is not a writer, but a teacher or a dentist or a carpenter that just happens to write. So, I guess the toughest part about being a writer for me is just being a writer.
8) How much is your protagonist like you? How different?
I base my protagonists on perspectives and ideologies, and not really people. However, some of them do have questions at the centers of their beings that I have at the center of mine. Answering those questions becomes their driving sentiments, much like answering questions is a driving sentiment of mine. So I guess they are simultaneously very different and very similar to me in that they desperately want what they want, but we differ in what we’re prepared to do to get it.
9) What kind of research did you do for this type of story?
I researched mythology of myth and legend, not just where certain stories come from, but why stories result from strange phenomenon at all.
10) Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not?
It does not. Stories are about experience, often times the human experience, which at its most dramatic is violent and at its most real is passionate. I’m not bothered by, or opposed to, putting them into my stories so long as there’s some narrative purpose for them being there. I usually don’t put in so much detail that it becomes the focus of things, but enough I think to capture the scene’s aggression or the characters’ feelings.
11) What about your book makes it special?
I think one of the things that makes my book special is it doesn’t leave anything out. In the paranormal realm, by the story’s end, it will have made room for everything or created a means to figure out how things got a certain way. One of my goals was not to leave any holes. One type of monster, of condition, informs questions of another and sometimes in some stories, one is acknowledged while another sort of falls by the wayside. I tried to be comprehensive, while keeping it compelling and believable.
12) What is your marketing plan?
Honestly, I was hoping to do a good number of interviews like this one with people like yourself reviewing my book and letting the work stand on its honest laurels. I’ll also be utilizing other technologies, networking engines and such.
13) Where can people learn more about you and your work?
They can go to my website, www.jecammon.com, which links to the blog of my day to day musings and quandaries.
15) Any tips for new writers hoping to write in the genre of your book?
I’ve met a fair amount of other writers that I think have forgotten the most important thing, which ought to occur before the networking (which is very important) and the promoting (which is also necessary) and that is the writing. Do the work: which applies to any writer of any profession and not just mine. It’s the best way to get better, and the only way to have a reason to network and create those pieces to promote.
Where Shadows Lie – Bay City
Where Shadows Lie: Bay City is the first in a series of novels that
investigates the supernatural from the perspective of all those who
dwell in it: denizens of the partially hidden other world just around
the next corner. Things go bump in the night, of course, but the
rational crutch of the every mind is to ignore these sounds, these
thoughts, as fantastical, even insane. Thus, this story involves the
virtually unexplainable blurs of the choice few. The work most directly
involves an uneasy friendship between a lycanthrope estranged from his
family, David, an African-American vampire from the pre-Civil War era,
Jarvis, and a sorcerer in training who is responsible for the initial
plot’s inception, Nick. The setting is Bay City, an eastern US seaport
with a dark history and a hidden face. The story begins on the eve of
David and Nick’s meeting, and continues through a series of
misadventures that strains the characters’ alliances..
The world of Where Shadows Lie seeks to take advantage of the phenomenon
of a universe where every monstrous legend in human history is brought
to the forefront and exposed as myth, reality or a combination of both.
The cast of the characters could be similar to most seen in recent
movies or books, but generally only on the surface. Later, the story
seeks to capitalize on a fresh twist to each of the various afflictions,
diseases, and curses that result tragically in these monsters. Many of
the supporting characters belong to the genre as well, and all serve to
directly or indirectly undermine what each of the main characters must
do to survive as themselves, or reclaim their lost humanity, or find
their best place in the world. This first book is a portrait of one
brief period where the three main characters are together, but as the
story moves along it exposes their destinations as vastly similar, and
they will be carried forward into their own books later, with limited