SARA Café Welcomes Camille Di Maio!

dimaio pix2SC: Welcome, Camille! When did you join SARA and for what reason?
CDM: I attended a writer’s event in New York a few years ago, and have kept in touch with some dear friends that I made there. However, they all live out of state, and I wanted to find something local. I attended a SARA meeting last year and found everyone to be so welcoming, and the classes to be very instructive. So I stayed!
SC: And we’re so glad you did! What sub-genre of romance stories do you write?
CDM: I would call my novel historical fiction with a strong romantic element.
SC: What about the romance genre appeals to you?
CDM: I run a high-stress business, and reading romance is such a mental getaway. I love a sweet story with a happy ending.
SC: Do you consider yourself a romantic?
CDM: I am! I’ve been married for almost nineteen years, and knew within days of meeting my husband that he was the one. I am also on the board of a ministry that helps couples heading towards divorce- thousands have found their way back to joy in their marriage. So, I have to be a romantic to advocate for that!
SC: What are your ultimate goals as a writer?
CDM: Ah, there are so many goals. As an art, I would like to create something that moves people, something that makes them think about it long after they’ve read “The End”. I’m sure I also share the dream of every writer our there to be able to do this full-time at the beach!
SC: If you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?
CDM: I have thought long and hard about this. Immediately, I love Joanne Froggatt, who played Anna on Downton Abbey. She has the right look- beauty and sweetness, but with some fire and strength. And she’s British, so she wouldn’t have to nail down the accent! However, she might be a tad old for the role- my story starts with the heroine at age eighteen. Another choice would be Carey Mulligan, She brings such gravity to all of her roles- and my heroine goes through some tremendous trials in the story.
SC: What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?
CDM: I have started a lot of books about the craft of writing, but I’ve never actually finished one. I do so much better in live classes. I have attended three classes that Donald Maas taught, and he is simply a master. In those moments, I believe that I’m capable of writing anything! Then, of course, I try on my own. It’s much easier in class.
SC: Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?
CDM: I would like to have a writing routine, and my New Year’s resolution for 2016 was to write for two hours a day. That hasn’t happened yet. I homeschool my four children and run a business with my husband, so writing gets the dregs. I’ve been outlining my next book, though, so I’m just about to dive in, and I think I will spend quite a lot of time with it There is a lot of research that needs to be done.
SC: Do you have any writing superstitions?
CDM: I’m not a believer in superstitions, but I do pray before I write.
SC: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hidden talents?
CDM: Beneath what I think is a positive and encouraging personality, my killer instincts come out when I’m playing board games. I don’t show any mercy. I’m a great backgammon player. Also, I travel whenever I get a chance. I am always planning (or at least dreaming about) my next trip.
SC: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
CDM: I love those moments when inspiration is easy (though they are few and far between!) where you really fall in love with what you are writing. There is a particular scene in The Memory of Us between my heroine and her father- lots of secrets have been kept, and get revealed in a very heated accusatory exchange. My heart races every time I read that chapter. It was the most real to me.
SC: What would happen if you didn’t write?
CDM: If I didn’t do any of the things I do now- writing, real estate, etc., I would have liked to be a travel agent. I love, love, love planning trips, even when they aren’t my own- I even planned two overseas trips for two sets of friends this past year! The more components the better.
SC: How do you know when your research is done?
CDM: As I wrote this, the research served the story, not the other way around. So, my research was done when I had everything I needed to complete the story. If I were working in an opposite way- researching something in order to build a story, I’m afraid I’d never stop!
SC: Name one thing you absolutely can’t write about.
CDM: I could not write a sex scene. I’m a low-heat kind of girl. In movies and books, I actually find the suggestion of something to be sexier than the portrayal of it.
SC: Name one of the challenges you had writing or as an author and how you met that challenge.
CDM: My biggest challenge has been self-doubt. I wrote this novel without any real experience beyond a couple of conference classes. So, I wondered if it was really any good. I gave it to some friends to read, and sometimes they would come to me weeks after finishing it and tell me that certain scenes or characters were still on their minds. That was very affirming. Lately,with my ARCs going out, the publication date approaching, and reviews popping up, I am going through some real moments of anxiety. I realized a few days ago that my book baby is actually out there in a big, public way, and I feel so vulnerable. Three things really helped with that. First, I was talking to my husband, who reassured me that I was given the gift of writing for a reason, and I shouldn’t doubt that. Second, I spoke with a Facebook friend who recently hit the NY Times Best Seller list- she told me that the vast majority of reviews will be great, the middle ones make fair critiques, and she ignores the negative ones- they are not usually coming from objective people. (Or they’re trolls.) Finally, my cousin made an amazing movie called “Being Ginger”, about his experiences being bullied as a redhead. It met with a lot of international acclaim. But, even with that, he got his share of snarky remarks from people. He actually did a pretty funny comedy sketch on “Mean Tweets” and it made me realize that ALL artists will have they’re haters.
SC: Thank you so much, Camille!
Photo credit to Gina Di Maio.
Camille’s first book, The Memory of Us will be released this month. And her next book, Before the Rain Falls, comes out in May of 2017! Congratulations, Camille!
Story submitted by Mary Brand

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