Author Name: Michelle Cameron
Genre: Historical Fiction. Jewish historical fiction, to be more precise.
Books: In the Shadow of the Globe – a verse novel about the life and loves of William Shakespeare
The Fruit of Her Hands: the story of Shira of Ashkenaz – about my 13th Century rabbi ancestor
Beyond the Ghetto Gates – about Napoleon’s freeing Italy’s Jews from their restrictive ghetto during his 1796-7 military campaign. Awarded a Silver Medal in Historical Fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Awards.
Are you a full-time author? If not, what’s your side gig? I wish I could be a full-time author! Maybe when I retire…. But my side gig complements my own writing – I am a director of The Writers Circle, a NJ-based organization that offers workshops and events in creative writing to children, teens, and adults. With the pandemic, we’ve gone completely virtual, so our instructors and students come from all over the world.
Favorite author/books: I read (and re-read) daily, so this is a tough question. I am the ultimate Jane Austen fan, however – with the t-shirt to prove it, bought during a Janeite pilgrimage to Bath! And since I wanted to immerse myself in that time period while writing Beyond the Ghetto Gates, I happily re-read every book she wrote while working on my own.
What experiences or people have influenced your writing the most? I learn something from every book I read ever since I began to “read like a writer.” And the fact that I attended high school in Israel means I received a far more in-depth education in Jewish history than I would have in the US, something that comes in handy while writing Jewish historical fiction!
Do you keep a writing journal and if so, how do you use it? I don’t keep a writing journal. My limited writing time goes to my current project.
Do you belong to a writers’ group? If so, describe your experience: I used to belong to a writer’s group when I was just getting serious about my writing and was very much encouraged by my fellow writers. Now that I’m working at The Writers Circle, I don’t have time for a writers’ group myself. However, I have many writer friends who are willing to beta read my work – and I’m happy to return the favor!
Are you up with the sun or do you burn the midnight oil? Up with the sun, definitely! When I was still working a full-time job and had a young family, I would wake up at 4:30 am to write – and did that for some five years. These days, that’s not necessary, but I do try and fit in some writing first thing every morning.
How do you get over a writing slump? By sitting down anyway and writing terrible, terrible prose. I call these my “chipping rock” days. Whether I find a kernel of goodness inside that I can further develop or end up throwing the entire section out, I still keep my date with the muse.
This, by the way, is a phrase borrowed by my youngest son, who is himself a talented writer. He called his muse Angela and had a set time of day when he kept his own date with her. Sometimes she’d stand him up, but he always kept faith.
Do you prefer writing dialogue or descriptive passages? I’m definitely a dialogue girl – it comes naturally to me and I love when my characters speak to one another (and to me). Description comes harder and in fact, I always add a descriptive pass during revision, when I focus on more fully fleshing out the setting. As a historical novelist, getting the place right is critical.
What are you working on now? A sequel to Beyond the Ghetto Gates. Napoleon’s next adventure was a curious military and scientific expedition to Egypt and Israel, mainly undertaken to harm British interests in the region. He gathered some 126 savants – artists and scientists – and brought them along with his loyal troops. He triumphed until he reached Acre (Akko) when a combined Turkish and British force handed him his first defeat.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about writing and publishing a book? Find a community of like-minded writers to share the work with and get it into the best possible shape possible. Publication can be a hard and discouraging road these days, so it shouldn’t be the only goal. Loving to sit down and write (or, at the very least, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, loving have written) has to be any aspiring writer’s ultimate reward.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which podcasts do you find the most interesting? I love podcasts about books and craft in particular. And a dear friend, Susanne Dunlap, is recording an amazing series about historical novels, It’s Just Historical. I was honored to be one of her early guests.
Favorite escape: Reading. Best done while soaking in a tub.
Have you ever tried Kombucha tea? I have not.
Do you prefer a couch with pillows or no pillows? With just enough pillows so I can recline comfortably. Not too many to prevent me from sitting up.
Would you rather rake leaves, shovel snow or weed? I used to love raking leaves on a sunny autumn day, but I don’t do it much anymore. I do still shovel snow out of sheer necessity, but I don’t enjoy it. And I never liked weeding.
Favorite mask – disposable paper, plain fabric, colorful print or something else? I have all three and wear them interchangeably. I think my plain fabric masks feel the most comfortable and cover the nose and mouth most securely, but they do fog up my glasses, which the disposable paper is less inclined to do. So it depends on what I’m doing out in the world. But I’m fortunate that I’m an introvert anyway and all my work and promotion these days is done virtually. I don’t go out except for walks and to the supermarket.
Biggest writing challenge since Covid-19: Ironically, time to write. This is because a lot of planning went into moving all of The Writers Circle’s in-person workshops, summer programs, and events virtual all of a sudden in mid-March. TWC’s response to the pandemic was to offer even more writing programs – an entire new schedule of shorter-session virtual workshops to help combat isolation. Coordinating all of this took a great deal of planning and was complicated by the fact that my novel was published in April. So all of my promotional events had to be either offered via Zoom or rescheduled, and I had to invest much more time into my social media efforts.
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29 thoughts on “Who’s That Indie Author? Michelle Cameron”
Hi, Barb – Thank you for introducing Michelle to us. It is a pleasure to meet her here.
A pleasure to meet you as well!
Thank you, Donna for stopping by and sorry for the late reply. I enjoyed meeting Michelle too!
Thanks for the introduction to Michelle and her book. I loved her response to getting over the writing slump. “By sitting down anyway and writing terrible, terrible prose.” So true.
Jill, I’m glad I’m not the only one to feel that way!
Hi Jill, I was also thinking that was good advice. It’s like anything else, I guess, you just have to keep going at it. Thanks for visiting and reading Michelle’s interview responses 🙂
Hi Barbara, I am pleased to meet another historical novelist and am interested that Michelle has specialised in Jewish history. My husband and I spent time at the great Synagogue in Budapest last year and also visited the shoes on the Danube. Both of these were very poignant experiences.
I envy you those experiences!
Hi Robbie – I’m glad you enjoyed meeting Michelle and learning about her interest in writing Jewish historical fiction. Thanks for the visit 🙂
Great questions, Barbara. Michelle’s answers were terrific too. Thanks for the introduction
Nice to meet you as well, John!
Thank you, John. I also liked Michelle’s responses!
Barbara, thank you for the introduction to Michelle today.
Michelle, your cover is sensational. You may smile knowing that I bought several blue & silver gift bags to include Hanukkah celebration along with Christmas at my book signing this Saturday. All the best as you promote your book baby!
Marian, best of luck with your book baby as well!
Hi Marian – thank you for stopping by to meet Michelle and learn more about her books. Glad to hear you are back doing book signings!
Enjoyed meeting Michelle and learning about her writing. Sharing.
Bette, thanks for the share!
My pleasure, Michelle.
Thank you, Bette, for reading and sharing!
Thank you both – I much enjoyed this. A great idea to give the muse a name … that’s got me thinking.
My son deserves all the credit for that idea!
Hi Susan, thank you for visiting and reading Michelle’s interview. She had some great advice!
Hi Barb. Hope you are well. This sounds like something my wife might enjoy. 😉
Jeff, I hope your wife will enjoy the book! (And maybe you, too?)
Hi Jeff – glad to see you stopping by. Thanks for reading Michelle’s interview. All is well here – bracing ourselves though…
GREAT interview Barbara. Thanks for introducing me to an author I haven’t met yet. Hi Michelle. Your answers to Barb’s thought-provoking questions are wonderful- and tell us a lot about you and your passion for writing and reading. I hope to learn more about your Writing Circle too. Where in NJ? I grew up in southern NJ. Like you, I’ve found myself busier than ever since Covid because my writing classes (that I teach) have become all on-line, and that takes even more time than in person. Your book sounds wonderful. I’m going to buy a copy.
Hello! I’m delighted you enjoyed the interview – thanks in large part to Barbara’s thoughtful questions. The Writers Circle is based in South Orange, NJ, and in ordinary times, we teach in Summit, Montclair, Maplewood, and South Orange. But we too are totally virtual right now. I’m so glad you’re going to buy a copy of Beyond the Ghetto Gates – and hope you enjoy it.
Oh, I know the area well. My parents grew up in East Orange with relatives in Montclair. I lived for a short while near Summit (Madison) when I went to grad school at Drew university. So nice to meet you and learn what you do and write. 😚
Hi Pam – great to see you and Michelle connect. And thank you for reading and commenting! I am sure it’s a challenge to change your teaching format to virtual classes. We had to transition to all Zoom programs at the library and there was a definite learning curve. Thanks for supporting Michelle 🙂
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