Friday, March 8, 2019

Author Interview with Cameron J. Quinn with GIVEAWAY!

Cameron J Quinn is the award-winning author of The Starsboro Chronicles. She lives in southern New Hampshire with her Marine husband and three children.                                           Cameron loves writing as both an escape from reality and just a good time. She likes to add humor to tough situations and put her otherwise fantastical characters into real-world situations.
She’s currently rewriting her Starsboro Chronicles to clean them up a bit (you learn a lot in three in years in this industry) and a new paranormal romance series. 

When she isn’t writing, wrangling her kids and various pets, she’s helping authors find success in this crazy industry! 

You can grab a free copy of her book How to Get Kicked Out of School when you sign up for her mailing list.

She’s the co-founder of Amphibian Press and runs as well as organizing book reviews and a podcast if author interviews.

Tell me a little about yourself and your background.

I grew up in New Hampshire on a farm. I had an incredible imagination as a child and the wilderness was my playground. I’m the youngest of four kids. I also have two younger stepsisters who are really just sisters. But I was the youngest for ten years and that definitely had an impact on my personality. 

I’m a  very (some would say ridiculously) positive person. I like to see the good in things even if I have dig deep to find it. 

I married my high school sweetheart when I was nineteen and we have three beautiful children together. He was in the Marines and that definitely shaped our relationship. 

When I’m not writing I’m helping authors as a book marketing coach, I was trained by Tim Grahl the author of Your First 1000 Copies and the creator of the course, Launch a Bestseller and I’m also a content editor, working towards my Story Grid Editor Certification. 

That’s really cool! Does the marketing perspective shape how you edit or what you look for in content?

Marketing helps me focus in on who I’m writing for and helps me make decisions based on that as well as the characters and what fits the story. But Editing has really shaped my writing process. I find my process more streamlined if I know what the inciting incident of the middle build will be before I finish the beginning hook. 

When did you get into writing?

Like most authors I know, I discovered a love story in elementary school. But I never thought it was something could or would do for a living. Oddly enough, when I was graduating high school, a lot of my teachers were pushing me towards getting my BFA and my dad was horrified. He’s very traditional in many ways. He was convinced, if I pursued art I’d starve and have to live in a cardboard box. No man has ever been more relieved to find out his daughter was getting married to a Marine. Ever. Haha. 

After I had my first child in 2010, I got back into writing. My best friend V.S. Holmes, finished her book Smoke and Rain (or so we thought) and she really inspired me to pick writing back up. When I told my dad, he was thrilled. 

Do you remember that first story idea you started when you decided to pick it back up?

YES! I still have it on my hard drive (two computers later). It was the story of Zurik and Trent’s parents. A portal fantasy.

When you’re reading, what are some of your favorite authors, books, genres… what do you love to read?

I love anything with a good love story. Not even a love story but attraction in particular. The first author I really connected with (through her books) was Sherrilyn Kenyon. I read Dance with the Devil the summer before eighth grade and I was hooked. I love paranormal romance. I like the otherworldly elements as well as some contemporary. 

Anything that makes me laugh really. 

Do you have a favorite character that you’ve read?

I have a real soft spot for Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Zarek. He’s the hero in Dance with the Devil and will probably be my always book boyfriend. 

I like a lot of Sherri’s characters really. Syn was great in her The League books as well. 

Where did you get inspiration for the Starsboro Chronicles? Did it start with a premise, a character…?

The Starsboro Chronicles started because of Zurik, Trent, and their sister Faythe (she’s introduced as an MC later on). When V finished Smoke and Rain in 2010, I picked up an epic fantasy series (portal fantasy to be more specific) I’d started in High School. Two of the characters had a romance that resulted in marriage and children after the events of the book. When I got pregnant, I was plagued by this fear of my kids being taken away and raised by someone else. So I played with those feelings, writing the scene where Marina discovers her sons are gone and then that they can never be retrieved. 

I couldn’t let that go. I started to think about Zurik and Trent’s lives. About the grandfather who was forced to raise them and how being ripped from their mother’s arms would affect them differently. 

Zurik’s personality regarding his mother is greatly influenced my father in law. He lost his parents in a car accident when he was in his early twenties and his refusal to deal with those emotions has had severe consequences on himself and those who love him. 

I didn’t know how much until after I’d created Zurik but decided to explore that through the character as well.  

You could say Zurik is my guinea pig. And you can bet that Trent will have the opposite reaction to anything that happens to them.

Is there anyone that inspired Detective Morgan, or did you develop her to kind of play off of Zurik?

She was definitely created to be a thorn in Zurik’s side and potential love interest from the start but she’s inspired at her core, by Detective Olivia Benson from Law&Order: SVU. That’s why Zurik calls her Benson in the opening scene. A little throwback to one of my favorites.

How many seasons/episodes do you anticipate having?

I have plans for three seasons of the chronicles but the world will on. V and I have a shared Universe called Starsedge and the chronicles, as well as her Nel Bentley books, take place within it. 

We’re planning to write an anthology for the universe. We’re still in planning and have discussed everything from co-authoring to swapping worlds (I’d write a book with Nel Bently characters and she’d write a book with Starsboro characters) but nothing is set in stone just yet. 

I really enjoy these characters so you can bet they’ll be around for a while.  

That’s interesting - have you ever co-authored before? I imagine it’s probably quite different than writing… do you think your styles are similar, or that they’re different, but complimentary way?

I have not co-authored anything before! We’re actually giving it a try in out next anthology from Amphibian Press, My Soul to Take. We’ve chosen a unique theme this time. It’s a horror anthology and we decided that each of the shorts will be told as a story around a campfire by the core characters created by the participating authors. (check out if you wanna take part!) 

So V will write the intro and I’ll revise it while I write the outro and V will revise it. The closest we’ve come to this is sharing characters. That went really well so I’m hopeful this will go well too. 

Who is your favorite character in the series; the one that you love to write the most?

This is like asking me to choose a favorite child. Each one lets me explore different emotions and aspects of life in a very safe way. 

That said, Zurik and Morgan are the ones I’ve had the most fun with so far. Zurik has helped me understand different aspects of myself and my own anger towards the world while Morgan lets me express my desire for justice and fear of addiction. 

I don’t know that I can choose between the two.

Are there any characters that you don’t enjoy writing, but you know you need them for the story? (maybe have some fantasies about killing them off in a particularly brutal way...)

I don’t usually plan it that way but occasionally I’ll realize as I write that a character is meant to die. 

The only one I really enjoyed killing was in How to Get Kicked Out of School. He was just so evil and gross that even though I was supposed to leave him alive. I murdered him… At least I think I did. Maybe I did what I was supposed to and kept him alive. I’ll check haha. But either way, I’ll enjoy never writing him again. 

Did you get more of your inspiration from tv or books? It reads similar to a tv procedural.

Zurik and the chronicles were heavily influenced by Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-hunters and TV shows. 

I love Buffy, Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Bitten, Law&Order, all those shows really. After having kids my reading time was reduced and I found the most satisfying way for me to get my story fix was through Netflix. 

The thing that I really like about Buffy and Supernatural and the appeal of Law&Order for me are the “Freak of the Week” style episodes and that’s what I was going for with The Starsboro Chronicles. I have an overarching theme and plot and you’ll see Morgan, Zurik, and Trent grow as characters but the one off monsters are my favorite.

I would like to specify that despite the similarities between the D’Vordi brothers and the Winchesters, I created Trent and Zurik before being introduced to the show. They were first written in 2010 and I discovered Supernatural in 2011.

Do you think you’ll ever create a “big bad” or keep it primarily episodic?

I have a “big bad” planned! Though you may not recognize him at first. I enjoy the episodic writing though without the looming story arc. Those style episodes (Freak of the Week) were always my favorites and so I have a fair amount of them in the Chronicles. 

What is the best piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Figure out story structure. It’s huge. I had to take down How to Get Arrested and the next two books because I failed to learn this or seek a professional to help me in that area. So for writing, nail your structure. I recommend the Story Grid by Shawn Coyne but there are tons of resources out there and content editors who can help you.

For marketing, read Tim Grahl’s, Your First 1000 Copies. And remember, overnight successes take ten years of hard work to make. 

This interview was done by MJ. You can follow MJ on Twitter and Instagram.

3 Winners will win Signed Copies of How to Get Arrested, Beam Me Up and Out of Darkness. (US Only)