A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.
What was your favorite part about getting to know – and write – Kate and Trevor’s characters? Did they surprise you or teach you an important lesson along the way?
Elizabeth: Kate and Trevor have quite a past, as they were fierce childhood rivals in everything from school grades to who could skip a stone further. When they meet again as adults, I was able to let the chemistry immediately flare to life based on their stormy past. Although they appear to be complete opposites (he is shy, prickly, and difficult, while she is sunny and popular) they are very much alike despite the external appearances. Sometimes it takes a while to get to know a person, and that was what Kate and Trevor learned. Because Kate and Trevor know each other quite well at the beginning of the book, this gave me the freedom to push their relationship into much deeper, emotionally challenging areas that I can usually do.
Savanna: Describe your favorite place to write. What’s your ideal setting for inspiration?
Elizabeth: I can write anywhere and any time, so long as I am alone in a room and there’s no one to see me laughing or blubbering as I write. I am guilty of doing both a lot! I have come to learn that if I don’t get choked up or write with a silly grin on my face, it is a sign there is something wrong. Twice I have ditched manuscripts at the midway point because if it wasn’t grabbing me as a writer, I can’t expect it to capture my reader’s emotions either.
Elizabeth: For me the hardest part is worrying while I write the first draft. First drafts usually take me around four months to get done, and they are always terrible. Aimless, wandering, full of half-formed characters, loose ends, and boring scenes. I fret and despair that it is the worst thing I’ve ever written and there is no hope, then I remind myself that I do this with EVERY MANUSCRIPT. It isn’t until that lousy first draft is finished that I can go back and clean it up. This is the part I love the most. Polishing, honing, tightening. Making the dark moments darker and adding glimpses of pure joy and exuberance here and there to keep the characters powering through. I love the re-writes, but wish I could pay someone to write my first drafts!
Savanna: It’s obvious to see you love history. What is your favorite time period to read and why?
Elizabeth: I love the late 19th and early 20th century. Our own era is jam-packed with the technology, but also a wistfulness as older, more familiar ways fade away. When reading about the late 19th century we can indulge in vicarious sympathy with our Victorian ancestors as they figure out how to place long-distance telephone call or adjust to the demands of a burgeoning industrial revolution. Despite the familiarity, Victorian and Gilded Age novels still allow the reader to sink into another time and place without having to learn to learn a different language or distant history. There is also the glamour of spectacular clothes, country mansions, aristocrats and larger-than-life drama. The setting is different without being jarring.
Elizabeth: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! The judging in contests is very subjective, so it is important for a writer not to feel too beaten up if they don’t do well, and conversely, to stay humble when you do win. As for my fondest memory? I rarely can get to the conferences where the awards are announced, so I learn about the win while logged into my computer in the middle of the night as the results get posted. In 2013 I won both the RITA and the Christy for Against the Tide. Both times my husband was deep asleep and I was alone in my office while I kept checking the live blogs to see who won. I stared at the screen for about two minutes to be sure I wasn’t misreading things…then went to wake up my husband and point to the screen in glee. He was bleary-eyed and confused about what I actually won, but was a good sport about it.
Savanna: How fun! You won’t forget that moment, I’m sure! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Elizabeth! Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Elizabeth: I’ve got another novel coming out in January 2015 called Beyond All Dreams. It’s set in 1897 and features a woman who works at the Library of Congress and falls in love with a charismatic congressman from Maine. Oh my, this one was fun to write!
Savanna: I’m intrigued already! Can’t wait to read it!
Elizabeth has graciously offered one copy – print OR e-version – of WITH EVERY BREATH to one lucky winner!
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