A big warm welcome to fellow author Wendy Van Camp!
I love to start with fun trivia. Tell me, what does a typical day look like for you? On a typical weekend, what can we find you doing? Who are you with? I start my day in my home studio/office. I check email, do my basic daily marketing for the blog and tend to any questions that have come in via email. Then things shift depending on what I’m working on. If I’m drafting, I take my Alphasmart Neo to the local coffeehouse and draft 2K words or more. An Alphasmart is a lightweight, digital typewriter without internet connections. If I’m editing, I will work at home on my desktop. My writing program of choice is Scrivener. I also use copy editing software such as Rightwriter, Smart-Edit, and Hemmingway. I find that editing or writing short blog articles are easier at home. I like to take a lunch break around noon. When I return, unless a story is grabbing me, I’ll work on house projects, make jewelry on my bench, or even cook a gourmet meal for dinner. After dinner and a little television watching with my husband, I return to my office. This is when my true creative time is. I create the best stories late at night. I’m not sure why. At least my husband seems to accept my night owl behavior.
Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do? I love to ride my bicycle or take my dog walking in the park. Connecting with nature is important to me and this allows me to feel the wind and the sun on my face.
Who are your favorite authors? Jane Austen, Robert A. Heinlein, Diana Galbaldan, Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Brandon Sanderson, Carla Kelly, Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it? I am an artisan jeweler and have been in business for 18 years. I create jewelry from semi-precious stones, sterling silver, copper and handmade art glass. My work has a Celtic theme, but with contemporary style. I sell my jewelry at Highland Games, Science Fiction Conventions, and Concerts. I currently do not have a webstore and frankly I am not sure if I want one. While jewelry is my day job, I am more focused on shifting to being an author these days. I suspect that I will be making jewelry for years to come, but gradually I will be making items for myself and friends instead of being a business.
When you sit down to write, do you do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or do you use a computer? Do you prefer one way or the other? I start with a fountain pen and a composition notebook. I brainstorm ideas for the story there. The next step is to write out an outline on paper based on the ideas that I’ve come up with. Once I have a rough outline, I use these to create files in my Scrivener program. I fill those files via my Alphasmart Neo, a digital typewriter that can send the text I type into any word processing file. Once the draft is completed, then I am working completely in Scrivener. When it comes to organizing a writing project and doing revisions, Scrivener is my tool of choice.
Compared to when you first started writing, have you noticed any big changes in your writing style or how you write compared from then to now? My writing style was learned before the age of the internet. Over the years, the rules for writing have changed. Today, authors include more white space, do not overwhelm the reader with large amounts of description and avoid passive voice at all costs. I’ve had to unlearn many writing habits over the past few years and still struggle when I fall back into old patterns. I ended up taking several refresher classes in grammar and I found that it helped counter the problems in my writing.
For our writer friends: What advice do you have for authors looking to find and connect with a wider base of fans? Person to person contact is best. Shaking a reader’s hand and talking one on one about your stories puts you in their mind and helps them to remember you. That is why I like to do speaking events or book a table at a festival. It gives me that personal branding. Social media is good too, but not as effective.
What genre are you most looking forward to exploring during your writing career? Why? I consider myself a science fiction and fantasy author. Most of my work falls into these two genre. I also dabble in regency romance connected with Jane Austen and the occasional memoir.
Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason? I dedicated my first novel to my husband. Although I started writing at a very young age, my parents were not supportive. They wanted me to go into engineering or be a teacher, something steady and respectable. My husband has always been supportive of all my creative efforts and this means the world to me.
Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
The Curate’s Brother is a short story about the relationship between the two Wentworth brothers as seen through the eyes of EDWARD WENTWORTH. It follows their romantic antics over one summer in 1806. This short story could be seen as a prequel to Jane Austen’s famous novel “Persuasion”.
Edward Wentworth lives a quiet, structured life as a curate in the regency era village of Monkford. He spends his days ministering to the sick and downhearted, which he considers his life’s calling. His comfortable life is shaken when his elder brother, COMMANDER FREDERICK WENTWORTH arrives on his doorstep for a visit. Frederick has returned to England after seeing action and commanding his first vessel, a prize ship won in the West Indies. He is awaiting orders and has the hope of commanding a ship of his own by the end of summer. His only goal is to pass the time with the only family he has left in England until his next assignment.
At first Edward is glad to see his brother. They have not spent time with each other for years due to his brother’s naval service. They are opposites in many ways. Frederick is bold and likes to take risks. Edward is shy and over-aware of social implications. When his brother flirts with SALLY MARSHALL, an outgoing beauty that Edward is used to viewing as “a child”, the young curate becomes aware that his viewpoint of Sally is sorely outdated. His peaceful life is full of turmoil as he observes Sally flirting with men at public assemblies and realizes that he does not like it.
Meanwhile, Frederick finds himself a celebrity in Monkford. Word from the London papers paint him as “the Hero of San Domingo”, where he won a commendation for his quick thinking in action. The men want to hear the story of his exploits, but Frederick would rather dance with the ladies. The Commander takes an interest in shy wallflower, ANNE ELLIOT. He pays no heed to Edward’s warnings that the girl is the daughter of a baronet and well above his station. Edward fears that no good will come of a union between his brother and the girl due to her family connections.
At the end of summer, a letter and a package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which way will prevail, the bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?
What authors inspired you to write this particular novel? Why? Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I love all her books, but Persuasion is my favorite. I started to read fanfiction based on Austen’s novels and eventually, ideas for a story of my own developed. Letters from the Sea was a Nanowrimo novel project a few years ago, but I was never happy with it and set it aside. However, I enjoyed the first chapter of the book where Edward Wentworth viewed his brother’s romance from afar and this became the bud that bloomed into The Curate’s Brother.
What else do you have in the pipeline? I am working on a sequel to The Curate’s Brother called Letters From The Sea. It is an extensive revision of the original project. Like The Curate’s Brother, it is more a character study than a true regency romance. I am also at work on my Opus, a steampunk science fiction trilogy, but due to its scope and length, it will be awhile before it is published.
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
No Wasted Ink: http://nowastedink.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/wendyvancamp
Wendy, thank you so very much for joining us!