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Monday, February 20, 2012

INTERVIEW: SKYLA DAWN CAMERON

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Skyla Dawn Cameron, whose newest book Lineage, the third book in the Demons of Oblivion series, is scheduled for release tomorrow.


"Congratulations on your release," I told her. "Can you tell us a little bit about this book and the previous two in the series?"


"Lineageis about a quarter-demon merc named Persephone Takata, who is out to avenge the murder of her family. This draws her into to the path of the characters from the first two books in the series, Bloodlines and Hunter. Bloodlines is about a snarky vampire assassin who has a rocky path on her first big contract, which is supposed to involve killing a couple of warlocks except she gets pulled into conspiracy theories and end of the world stuff. Also, people keep wrecking her clothes, which really ticks her off. Hunter is about a demon hunting nun, sent to track and kill the vampire who murdered a member of her organization. The series website is located at www.ZaraLain.com."


"Do you ever suffer from writer's block?" I wondered.


"I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think days are harder than others to write, and I think it’s necessary to recharge our writing batteries now and again, but anyone sitting around waiting for a muse to arrive and show her the way is going to have a very short career as a professional writer. Most of us can’t afford to get writer’s block."


Skyla told me that she always has several things she's working on. Currently there are the fifth (and final) book in a YA paranormal series in development; the first book in a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy series; a dark comedic paranormal horror story which will likely be the first of a trilogy; and the rest of the series that began with Bloodlines, which currently involves her writing the fifth book, a freebie serial, and short stories.


I asked her to tell me a bit more about the "dark comedic paranormal horror."


"I know, that's a mouthful," she admitted. "It’s sort of like the movie Heathers except set post-graduation, in a haunted Irish castle, with a serial killer...it’s random and SO much fun to write."


In Skyla's opinion, voice and character are the two most important elements of good writing.


"You can fix the mechanics if that area is weak (grammar, the writing “rules”, etc), and often you can spruce up a ho-hum plot and work on world building, but if the reader doesn’t care about your characters, it doesn’t matter," she explained. "Likewise, voice is another thing that you either have or you don’t. I’ve seen technically perfect novels that had no voice, no life."


When it comes to titles, sometimes they hit her right away (Asha's Guide to Zombie Dating Etiquette), sometimes she has to struggle for ages to find the right title (Bloodlines), and there are others she never comes up with the perfect title for, so she just names it after the main character (River).


"The file almost always starts with the narrating character’s name in place of a title and I change it either during the book or afterward," she explained. "Usually that’s just the case with the first in a series; by the time I have other books planned, I know their titles."


It never occurred to Skyla that she wasn't a writer, she told me when I asked when she first thought of herself as a writer.


"I was reading by the time I was 2.5 – 3 yrs old and as soon as I could hold a pencil, I was trying to tell stories. I used to act them out with Barbies. Generally I use a word processor now," she said. *hides Barbie dolls under the table*


She was first inspired to write her first book while listening to Michael Jackson's Thriller. She was six or seven and started writing a series of picture books that involves zombies and things.


"I’d written stories before that, but I was really trying to write a longer 'book' by then. I started writing horror novels by the time I was eleven, because all of the young adult horror novels in the school library weren’t violent or gory enough for me (I know, I know, I have issues)," she said. "I finished my first full-length adult novel when I was eighteen; it came about because I’d been reading a lot of fantasy and wanted to try my hand at writing it. I quickly learned I’m not meant to be a fantasy writer."


I asked her to tell me about her writing space.


"It’s a coffee table brought from Peru by friends of the family about thirty years ago or so. Beautiful piece of art, and my monitor sits on it, with me on my couch. I’ve learned to write in very tight spaces over the years (I wrote my first published novel sitting on the end of a bed with my big computer and monitor sitting on a nightstand). I’m near my treadmill so I can get up and run when it’s time to unstick a plot point, and across from my Xbox so I can game when my brain needs a break. For Christmas my mother got me a great big dry-erase board that sits over my couch, where I jot down plot points and revision notes (I call it my murder board). I’m also surrounded by houseplants and cats."


Along with five cats, Skyla also has an eleven-year-old beagle-corgi mix named Sophie who is very smart, very hyper, and suffers from ADD, as well as a rabbit.


Skyla works a day job from home, so she usually gets up around 10 AM, has her coffee/breakfast and answer email, then works until lunch, when she gets to either play around on social networking sites or reads over what she wrote the night before. After lunch, she continues work until seven or eight, then she unwinds by writing until about 3 in the morning or so. She also spends weekends writing.


"Yeah, I know—some twenty-somethings go out partying to have fun. I unplug the internet and get fictional people in trouble in order to relax," she said. "But if I don’t take that time to write, I tend to be quite cranky during the day job."


Skyla makes book covers for whatever she's writing, even if she has no plans of ever seeing it published.


"It seems to be part of my process," she explained. "I need to know what I’m trying to do with the book, and something about visual art helps me refine the story in my head (I also make up music playlists for the same reason). Then I stick them all on my website and people ask when they’ll be available, to which I have to say, 'Um...possibly never?'"


Most of Skyla's downtime/spare time is spent writing—she puts in 40+ hours a week at her day job—so when she's not writing, she games on the Xbox 360 or plays Nancy Drew games on her PC. She also gardens as much as she can in her apartment (she has about seventy houseplants). She goes for walks and jogs with her dog, and practices belly dancing, bollywood dancing, and yoga in her living room.


"When I find myself having in depth conversations with the cats, I pick up the phone and call a friend to hang out," she said.


"What did you want to be when you grew up?" I asked.


"First, a Special Agent with the FBI working in violent crimes, because my favourite show when I was seven was Twin Peaks and I idolized Agent Cooper. I had no idea there wasn’t actually the FBI in Canada. I also wanted to be a cryptozoologist for a lot of years—that’s someone who tries to hunt down lake monsters and other supposedly mythical creatures. Right now I mostly want to be a ninja when I grow up."


Skyla's favorite animal is wolves, because she identifies with the sense of community, the hierarchy, and the sense of loyalty.


"Since I was a child, I’ve found nothing more comforting to hear than wolves howling," she told me. "I’m also very much a cat person—which is why I have five of them. Every so often, one of my newest—a ginger and white short hair named Miss Dinah Fantastico—will stroll over and start meowing at me. I meow back at her until I realize I’m meowing, and promptly feel like an idiot. This is likely why I have few friends."


"What is one thing scientists should invent?" I wondered.


"I’d love to say that it would be nice to have a clone to help me get work done, but I know my clone would be just as ambitious as me, and would try to take over my life. Then I’d have to kill my clone and that never ends well."


Finally I asked her, "Can you unwrap a Starburst with your tongue?"


"Kinky! No, but I think I’m going to try now..."


About the Author:
Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever. Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her attention deficit disorder.


Skyla lives in Southern Ontario where she dabbles in art, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. She’s naturally brunette, occasionally a redhead, and currently blonde. If she ever becomes a grown-up, she wants to run her own pub, as well as become world dictator. You can visit her on the web at www.SkylaDawnCameron.com for free fiction, book news, a community forum, and tons of other totally awesome stuff.



What’s a woman to do when her dad’s the antichrist, her grandma’s the devil, the end of the world is at her doorstep, and she’s out to avenge the murders of her husband and kids?


Kill everything in her way.


Quarter-demon Peri Takata exists with but one goal in mind: annihilate everyone responsible for the death of her family. Then—her need for vengeance quelled—she plans to take her own life.


Her mission brings her to vampire Zara Lain, the only known survivor of the event that destroyed Peri’s family five years ago. Hunting down a secret society of those who don’t want to be found has its challenges, however, especially when forces are working to keep the antichrist’s daughter very much alive. The apocalypse is closing in and Peri may be playing a role in it whether she wants to or not.


And when a heart long-thought dead begins to beat again with love for another, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.


Book 3 of the Demons of Oblivion series

3 comments:

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Thriller... oh, I just have to say the kid is on a Thriller kick! He loves the song, and has the music video on his iPod. He thought he found something new, and had to share it with us on the tv. :D The husband and I just looked at each other as he kept going on and on about the full video. :D I actually liked that one. Great interview!

Skyla Dawn said...

LOL I can just imagine. Actually, I bet my family went through that whole thing when I was a teen and into the 60s. "OMG, have you guys ever heard of Janis Joplin??"

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Oh yes, but it was nice to have that feeling. :) And I remember doing the Janis Joplin thing too! LOL! Along with a few others. ;D