Please give a warm welcome to the author of SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE, Erica Cameron
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in New York (really close to Sleepy Hollow, actually), but I grew up in South Florida. Which was the wrong place for me to live when you take into consideration my utter distaste for hot weather. I sort of wish my parents had stayed in New York! They didn’t, though, and eventually gave me two younger sisters. All three of us were dancers growing up and most weeks we spent more time at our studio than we did at home. The studio owners watched us grow up and are basically honorary aunts. That’s< how much time we were there. I also used to do musical theater, but the last time I stepped on stage to act or sing was eighth grade, so let’s consider me retired. 😉
After high school, I moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University. It took me two solid years of taking a really random assortment of classes to finally declare a major. I still couldn’t really decide, so I picked two—psychology and creative writing—and graduated with a double major in 2007. About six months before graduation, I decided to seriously pursue a career as an author. And that’s when I started collecting the rejection slips and piling up the unpublishable manuscripts. It took me five years to find someone to buy my books. Along the way, I’ve worked as a dance teacher, a hostess, a pizza delivery girl, a pointe shoe fitter, a Starbucks barista, a research assistant for the Florida Center for Reading Research, and a supervisor for Borders. I miss Borders! I was sitting in the back office of Borders when I got the idea that would eventually become Sing, actually.
Still unpublished, I moved back to South Florida in 2011 and got a job at a magazine as a copywriter/copyeditor/digital guru/whatever else they needed me to do. In 2012, I tagged along to Book Expo America (BEA) with my friend Lani Woodland. It was because of her that I attended the party in Tribeca where I met my future editors and sold Sing! It wasn’t until seven months later that I signed with my agent, Danielle Chiotti of Upstart Crow.
But being published doesn’t mean quitting the day job. I did recently leave the magazine, but only because a friend of mine told me about a part-time position teaching English at a live-in drug and alcohol rehab center for teenagers. It’s an amazing job working with some pretty cool kids and I love that I get to be part of something that’s (hopefully) making a significant difference in their lives. Right now, I work there and have an another part time job writing promotional blurbs and materials for a different company. And then I also have my writing work. So, that’s three jobs, for those keeping track. One day I will be able to write full-time, but I’ll scrounge up as much writing time as I can until then!
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
In short : Dreams, demons, girls who don’t speak, and boys with white knight complexes. 😀
At length : Mariella has been visiting a dreamworld no one else knows exists since she was eight. She calls it Paradise and she’s in love with the man who brings her there, a man named Orane.
Calease brought Hudson in to the dreamworld at fourteen. For four years, he thought it was as close to heaven as he could ever get. Then it cost him his four-year-old brother J.R.’s life. Hudson wants to destroy the dreamworld and the demons who live there to protect others like J.R., but he has no clue how to get back in. Until a vision points him toward Swallow’s Grove, Mariella’s home town.
Once he gets to Swallow’s Grove and meets Mariella, Hudson realizes that convincing her to help him break into the dreamworld won’t be easy. Mari is determined to stay on the path she’s chosen and fights Hudson every step of the way. With only two weeks to go until Orane captures Mari for good, Hudson has to find a way to cut through the veil keeping Mari from seeing the truth. If he doesn’t, she’s going to willingly throw herself off a cliff she doesn’t even realize is there.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
I can’t pick a favorite! They’re all my babies. <3
Sing is a dual point of view book, with chapters switching between my two main characters, Mariella and Hudson. They’re both beautifully complex people, but in very different ways. Hudson has been through the wringer even before the book starts, but he’s still an amazingly compassionate soul. Mariella has already been under the influence of the dreamworld for ten years when the book starts and it’s changed her in ways she can’t even see. They’re both incredibly resilient. They’re also strong in very similar ways even though it doesn’t seem like it on the surface.
Surrounding my two narrators is a group of people I’ve come to love dearly. Mariella’s parents Dana and Frank are really supportive and generally cool people and her best friend K.T. (short for Katalina Therese) is intelligent, curious, and tenacious. Hudson sweeps into town with his fairy-godfather-stand-in Horace, a seventy-eight-year-old man whose role in the book kept getting larger with every revision. Like Horace, Dawn’s role was ever-expanding. She’s a legally-blind fourteen-year-old girl who basically runs her mother’s New Age store, a shop called A Stone’s Throw From Normal. Together, these characters inhabit a world I hope readers will come to love as much as I do.
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
I make Smurf jokes? And I somehow smash dreams, parallel universes, demons, music, family, magic, psychology, best friends, New Age stores, classic cars, gemstones, visions, and small towns into the same story. 😉
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
I know some people need a playlist or absolute silence or something else, but I tend to work best with random white noise. Often, I write at Panera or Starbucks. The people around me provide just enough background noise for me to block out without it distracting me. And then sometimes I get to overhear some really awesome (or some awesomely strange) conversations.
There aren’t many processes that apply more than sporadically within my actual writing method. The closest I come is that when I start a new project, I usually just write. No planning, no plotting, no spreadsheets or anything. I take whatever image or character or moment popped into my head and run with it until my mind goes blank. Once I’ve hit that creative dead end, then I start outlining and analyzing and working out the connecting details of the mess I just spewed onto the page. By then, I usually know the characters well enough to predict what they’ll do in certain situations and that makes the plotting process a WHOLE lot easier.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I go through genre binges. I’ll read a ton of fantasy and then be more in the mood for dramatic contemporaries. After that, I might switch to regency romances before deciding that sci-fi sounds like fun. Mysteries, classics, adult, YA… I read all over the board. So my favorite authors are all over the place, too. Here’s a list of just some of them: Tamora Pierce, Dan Wells, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Carey, Cinda Williams Chima, Jane Austen, Suzanne Collins, Elizabeth Eulberg, Charlotte Bronte, Simone Elkeles, Ally Carter, Stephenie Meyer, Jay Asher, Georgette Heyer… yeah. I’ll stop there.
What are you reading now?
I am lucky enough to be a member of the OneFour Kid Lit debut group. Part of the fun is taking part in ARC tours of the books coming out this year, so that’s what I’ve been reading when I have the time. So far, I’ve had a chance to read Olivia Twisted by Vivi Barnes, Phoenix Island by John Dixon, The Violet Hour by Whitney Miller, and By the Grace of Todd by Louise Galveston. I’m also really looking forward to finally digging in to Gilded by Christina Farley, which released three short days before my book!
What advice can you give to struggling writers?
Write the story that takes over your soul whether you know the subject personally or not. In my opinion, the book that consumes you has a better chance of making it from your computer or notebook and into readers’ hands.
Try advice other writers give you, but don’t treat it like gospel. Writing is not a one-size-fits-all occupation. We’re a collection of weirdos and our processes reflect that.
Sometimes the paths to publication are all sorts of crooked and sometimes they don’t look the way you’ve been told to expect, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to as long as it gets you where you want to be.
Mostly, though, don’t go into this business unless you need it. Unless you honestly cannot imagine yourself doing anything else ever. Drafting is hard. Revising on your own is harder. Revisions with an editor are even harder. There’s a lot of hurry up and wait in this business. There’s also a lot of “no.” There’s a lot of frustration and disappointment and stress and anxiety. But there’s also a lot of support and enthusiasm and creativity and kindness. There’s also that moment when you meet a stranger and they say “Oh, really? No way! I’ve heard about that book and I can’t wait to read it!” and, lord, does that moment make up for so many of the downsides to this career. The getting there, though? That’s the part that might take longer than a lot of people are willing to wait.
About the Book
Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica CameronSeries: The Dream War Saga #1
Published by Spencer Hill Press on 2014-03-04
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Mariella Teagen hasn't spoken a word in four years.
She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.
Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.
Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.
Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella's life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.
2 finished copies of the book, plus a grand prize basket! US Only.
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