Thursday, April 17, 2014

Rocco's guest...DANA CAMERON!

Today my guest is author Dana Cameron!
Dana Cameron can't help mixing in a little history into her fiction.
Drawing from her expertise in archaeology, Dana's work (including traditional mystery, noir, urban fantasy, thriller, and historical
tales) has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards and earned an Edgar Award nomination.  Her second Fangborn novel, PACK OF STRAYS, will be published in April 2014 by 47North.  A Fangborn short story, "The God's Games" will appear in Games Creatures Play in April, and her story, "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars," featuring Pam Ravenscroft from Charlaine Harris's acclaimed Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, will appear in Dead But Not Forgotten: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse in May.
R:  Welcome, Dana! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Thanks for having me, Rocco! 
 I wanted to be a writer from the age of four or five, but decided I couldn't do that, because I thought writers had to have “experiences,” like running with the bulls or getting into bar fights, which didn't sound like much fun.  So at age 10, I decided on archaeology instead, and eventually earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in that.  I was studying human culture and that was actually good training for writing fiction, and thinking about motives for behavior tied in nicely with my interests in crime fiction.
 Being confronted by a treasure hunter with a gun while I was in the field provided the impetus to start writing mysteries.  It was very ironic, as that was exactly the sort of thing I was trying to avoid as a kid!  So I took all those years of studying people and my experiences figuring out puzzles in the field and used them to write my six Dr. Emma Fielding mysteries.
It was being asked by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner to contribute a story to one of their urban fantasy anthologies, Wolfsbane and Mistletoe.  I've always loved fantasy and had an amazing time exploring Fangborn “culture.”  I've written seven short stories set in that 'verse, and two novels, Seven Kinds of Hell and the latest, Pack of Strays, which debuted April 15.  I suppose it's no surprise that the protagonist of the series, Zoe Miller, is also an archaeologist. :-)
R: What writers in your genre would you say have made the greatest influence on your writing?
 Hmm, in mystery and crime fiction, I think Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christy, probably to start.  Sayers in particular always struck me with the acuteness of her cultural observations, which are important for archaeologists and detectives both.  I've already mentioned the profound effect that Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner have had on my new series, but also in my urban fantasy, I've been influenced by Andre Norton, Ursula LeGuin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, and Poul Anderson.
R: Tell us about your new release, PACK OF STRAYS.  How did the idea for this series come about?
 It's based on the Fangborn world I developed through my short stories.  I kept looking at the Fangborn through their history and it really was compelling to me.  Nearly all cultures have a shape-shifting myth, so what if some of them were actually related?  I began playing around with an idea for a Fangborn novel, and it was at the same time as I was working on an archaeological thriller.  Neither one really worked until I realized the archaeologist was a werewolf, and Fangborn, but didn't know it; the two books were really halves of one book.  That led to Zoe's first adventure, Seven Kinds of Hell, which was published by 47North.  Pack of Strays is the second book in that series.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
 I met my awesome agent, Josh Getzler, chatting at Bouchercon!
 I was...confused when I got that call, about fourteen years ago.  I'd been scraping the paint from our deck and had just badly hyperextended my thumb.  So when my first agent called me, I was very excited and in a lot of pain.  Eventually, the thumb healed, but I never got over the thrill of being published.
 When Josh sold the Fangborn series a few years ago, I was returning from vacation so that was a much happier experience!  We stopped on the way home to pick up champagne to celebrate.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
 I need the right playlist for whatever it is I'm working on.  If I don't have a “soundtrack” for the WIP, then I'm lost.  When I get really stuck, I go to an art museum for inspiration.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
 I love Hong Kong action movies.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
 I'm not a very crazy person, but one time, I was hiking along the Cinque Terra in Italy; the path was blocked by a locked gate.  We had to get to the train station at the town on the other side, and couldn't move up the cliff, so I swung myself around the gate.  For a few seconds, I was clinging to a chain link fence many feet above the Ligurian Sea.  I was about halfway around when I felt my hands sweating against the rusty chain link and wondered if the gate would support my weight as I dangled above the water.  It was the wrong time to wonder if that was a smart idea.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
Entertainment, certainly, I hope.  I love when someone tells me she related to one of my characters or that my writing got her through a tough time.  I'm always excited when someone gets into archaeology or history when he reads my books.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I'm working on Fangborn Novel #3 and a Fangborn short story, which may be a Holmesian pastiche.  I'm also working on another project, but can't discuss it yet.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Total pantser.  It is a harrowing way to write, but it's the only way I really feel comfortable working.
R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
No party tricks, I'm afraid.  I like to travel, go to museums, go for long walks.  Trying new food and drink is one of my passions. 
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Work every day, even if you have to steal 15 minutes to do it.  Finish what your working on.  Find excellent, and increasingly tough critics.
R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?
 I'm super busy right now, so my TBR pile is heaped up!  When I need a break, I make a tiny dent in the pile by reading comics—especially Wonder Woman, Saga, The New Avengers, Hellboy, and a flock by Greg Rucka.  I'm really looking forward to seeing what the other contributors did with the Sookieverse in Dead But Not Forgotten.  I chose Pam Ravenscroft.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)   I have always been a cat person! (ROCCO: excellent answer, meow!)
Beach or Pool?   Beach.
Steak or salad?   Salad or steak salad.
Favorite Drink?  I always have water with me.  I do love a raspberry lime rickey, though.
Favorite Book?  Toss up between Shakespeare's Complete Works and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Those are the ones I quote most often.
Favorite TV Series?  Until Series Four of BBC's “Sherlock” comes out, it's “The Americans.”
Favorite Movie?  Tough one—“Raiders of the Lost Ark” comes first to mind.
Favorite Actor:  Hmmm, at the moment, it's Benedict Cumberbatch.
Favorite Actress:  Emma Thompson. 
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Bourbon.
Hawaii or Alaska?  Yikes...I love both, but I've been to Hawaii more often.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Cleopatra.
If I had just one wish, it would be_universal free education through university and beyond.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Joss Whedon.  Just for a week, to see how it's done.
Where can readers find you?
I'm on Facebook and Twitter.  My website is  I blog with the Femmes Fatales ( ) and on my own site, where you can also find my appearances.
Dana, thank you for a great interview, meow!
Folks, Dana will give away a copy of Pack of Strays to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
  * Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Follow Dana on FB or Twitter
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend the HUMAN on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, April 20. Good luck!


  1. Bourbon! Great answer. Ever try Angel's Envy? I hear it is amazingly good.

    I follow the blog regularly and am FB friends with you all

  2. Oh, I did so want to be an archaeologist when I was a kid....I still read every news article and follow some archaeological FB sites.
    I hope your success continues and all is well with you, Dana.
    She really did give a great answer to the cat q, didn't she Rocco!
    I'm in:
    I Follow this Blog
    I follow on Twitter,
    I am a Friend
    I shared on FB
    I Tweeted