Elizabeth Camden ~ Author Interview

Feb 13, 2015 by

Welcome back to Rachel’s Back Talk! Time for another Friday interview!

Today’s interview is with Elizabeth Camden. This past Monday, I had the opportunity to review her book Into the Whirlwind.

So without further ado, on to Rachel’s Back Talk – Special Edition! 


RR: Hi Elizabeth! It is great to have your here at Rachel’s Back Talk today. To begin let’s talk about when you knew that you wanted to be a writer.

EC: I remember falling in love with Charlotte’s Web when I was eight or nine years old, but being absolutely devastated by the bittersweet ending, and vowing to never read another book by E.B. White for the crime of failing to deliver a happily-ever-after. I told my mother that when I grew up I would write a better ending for Charlotte’s Web. Although I lacked a full appreciation for how plagiarism and copyright laws would ultimately foil my ambition for re-writing Charlotte’s Web, it did inspire me to become a romance novelist where I can indulge my need to resolve things with beautiful, happy endings.

RR: Oh yes! That is one book that does not end happily ever after! So how would you describe your writing process? Are you more of a planner or freewriter?

EC: I plan out my two lead characters in great detail….their quirks, weaknesses, fears, what they love and loathe. I plan an interesting conundrum to plunge them into, but after that I have NO CLUE what will happen. There will be a happily-ever-after, but I’m never certain how I am going to get them there.

RR: That’s a great plan. Sometimes all you need is that knowledge of the characters to get you going. How do you know when you have a great story idea?

EC: When the chemistry between the characters flare to life and their dialog flows naturally. A pair of dynamic, fascinating lead characters are the most important ingredient for a great story. So long as you have a big enough conflict for them to sink their teeth into, I think it is the chemistry between the characters which will make or break a love story. I’ll be honest and confess to having written three or four manuscripts where the chemistry never clicked. That’s when it’s time to abandon a manuscript. It’s tough, because by this time I usually have several months invested in the project. I once abandoned a manuscript at the 80% mark. It had an amazing plot…but the lead characters simply didn’t sparkle for me. Perhaps someday I will go back and resurrect it with a different heroine and see if it works.

RR: A great point! Readers want to be moved. Well, out of all your books then, which has been your favorite to write?

EC: I think it is a tie between “Against the Tide” and “With Every Breath.” I love those two novels because the romantic storyline worked so well. In both cases I believe the chemistry between the two main characters was lively and emotionally intense, but huge conflicts kept them apart in a very realistic way. In both cases I put the leads through the wringer before they earned a happy ending. I think that makes the story sweeter.

RR: Ooo! They sound great! Let’s move on now to your book, Into the Whirlwind. How did you come up with that story idea?

EC: I wanted to do a catastrophe novel. I’d recently lived through a hurricane, and had a lot of first-hand experience with how a community pulls together during such a crisis. I looked around for major catastrophes during the time frame I write my novels and identified three possibilities: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, or the Chicago Fire of 1871. I read up on all three, and saw the most possibilities for Chicago.

RR: And it was great! It brought the Chicago fire to life. Are the characters Mollie and Zach based off of anyone you know?

 EC: Mollie was created entirely from my imagination, as are almost all my characters…but Zach? Well, I based him on my husband. My husband is from a tough, ethnic, blue-collar background, but vaulted out of that world by getting in to the Air Force Academy. Like Zach, he was the first person in his family to go to college, has a love-hate relationship with his ethnic roots, and an insane soft spot for his mother. I think this is why Zach comes off as such a guy’s guy….because he is heavily modeled after one I know very well!

RR: Yes, Zach’s personality and character came through very vivid! So why do you like writing historical fiction?

EC: I am a research librarian in my day job, and writing good historical fiction takes enormous research, but this is something I’m pretty good at and enjoy doing. I’ve always loved a good, turbulent and emotional romance novel, so writing historical fiction lets me combine my love of history and romance into one package.

RR: I love that—there is something about history that is so fascinating. How much time was spent researching this book in particular?

EC: I usually spend a few months reading memoirs and history books about the topic so I can be sure there are enough interesting hooks for me to grab onto for historic drama. So maybe two months before I started writing, but I’m constantly researching throughout the first draft as new questions arise.

RR: That’s great and you can definitely tell that a lot of research was put into your book. In closing, is there one tip that you could share that has really benefited you in your writing

EC: I READ!!! I read widely and deeply. Sometimes when I’m reading a mediocre novel I get the sense that the author reads nothing but the genre in which she is writing. This leads to an anemic story, perhaps a sense of sameness and a “been there, done that” feeling. By reading memoirs from people who either lived through a historical event or practice the profession, I glean really cool angles to integrate into the story. By reading suspense novelists I learn techniques to heighten and surprise readers. By reading comedy I learn how to integrate wit into an otherwise emotionally intense novel. By reading Shakespeare I learn about high drama. By watching sitcoms like Big Bang Theory or The Gilmore Girls I learn about dialog.

RR: I totally agree! I don’t think you could find me without a book in my hand and I love that idea of reading outside your genre too. Thank you so much for being here, Elizabeth! It has been wonderful!

If you have any questions for Elizabeth or remarks about the interview,  please leave a comment. I love hearing from you and I know Elizabeth will too!



And in case you missed it, here is the review that I wrote on Elizabeth’s book, Into the Whirlwind.



pressphoto2-211x300A 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.


You can learn more about Elizabeth by visiting her website, www.elizabethcamden.com or her facebook page.





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