We’re excited to have Elizabeth Camden visiting the Quid Pro Quills today. Elizabeth has written a number of historical fiction books, the latest of which is Until the Dawn. A review of that book is HERE.
QPQ: Welcome, Elizabeth! If I’ve done my math correctly, you’ve released 8 books in the past 4 years. These aren’t short serial romances, these are full-length historical novels. How on earth did you do that?
EC: I’ve always been a fast writer. I am also a voracious reader, so as I am researching details for my work-in-progress, something will usually capture my imagination and the seeds of a new book are planted and begin taking shape before I reach the finish line. For example, as I was writing Beyond All Dreams, which is about a congressman and a librarian, I wanted my heroine to stumble across some maps produced by the Weather Bureau, which required me to do a little research into that organization. I learned some fascinating details about the early years of this organization and I knew it had the makings of an interesting story. This research became the basis for Sophie’s work in Until the Dawn. Eagle-eyed readers can often spot minor plot points that surface as major themes in subsequent books.
QPQ: One of the things I enjoy about your books is that you pick an actual historical event that works in the background – some in the foreground – of the fictional story. In Until the Dawn, you used the beginnings of the National Weather Bureau. Why that?
EC: See above! What intrigued me about the Weather Bureau is that during its early years so much of their work depended on thousands of volunteers spread out across the nation, taking climate readings, then telegraphing it to Washington every day without fail. They received no monetary compensation at all….merely the desire to serve the community. What kind of person would volunteer for such a thankless task? THAT was a topic that interested me!
QPQ: Sophie van Riijn is an interesting heroine. She bops between the kitchen and the weather station (a position typically held by males) and seems equally comfortable in both roles. What do you hope readers will see in Sophie?
EC: I had a very clear image of what I wanted for Sophie. After several novels featuring tough, driven heroines, I was in the mood to try something different. I wanted a heroine so kind, beautiful, and feminine that she tips the scales of believability. I wanted her to be the ultimate Proverbs 31 woman….a fantastic cook, gentle but strong spirit, and eager to help her community. She is so appealing to men that she attracts them with ease, but I gave her an almost supernatural curse….any man who gets too close seems to come to harm, which she does not understand. Why would God give her such a strong desire to be a wife and a mother, and keep failing her?
QPQ: I likened this story to Beauty and the Beast in that your hero, Quentin Vandermark, at the start of the story, was anything but a hero. He wasn’t physically a beast, but he was emotionally a very rough character. What did you see in him from the start that intrigued you enough to make him your hero?
EC: Because Sophie was so sweet and kind, I needed the hero to be the opposite. Sophie is forced to screw up her courage and go in and rescue this guy. Frankly, it is easier to rescue someone who is grateful and sympathetic, but it is far more admirable and interesting to extend kindness to a person who doesn’t seem to deserve it. I wanted this to be a romance, so of course I ultimately gave Quentin a deep and profound sense of goodness buried deep down. I enjoyed having Sophie discover Quentin’s rich, hidden worth.
QPQ: There is a fabulous twist at the very end of this story – and we don’t want to give any spoilers – but I’m curious if that was something you had in mind from the first sentence, or if it sprung out of the process of writing the story.
EC: No, it came up at the very end as I wrote the epilog. I love writing epilogs in my novels, but only if they have the potential to surprise the reader with some delightful twists or insights. Too often epilogs are a crutch to wrap up loose story threads or bump up the word count by showing saccharine snippets of the hero and heroine enjoying wedded bliss. Yawn. I only add an epilog if I can deliver a fantastic, satisfying, and unexpected twist. When the idea you are referring to first came to me, I wondered if I’d have the hutzpah to do it, but after I put the words on paper I knew it was a perfect ending so I let it stay.
EC: I can be found at www.elizabethcamden.com and at Facebook. I also have some Pinterest pages that feature images taken from some of the actual places and things that inspired my various novels. It is a great place to check out the setting and vibe of a book.
QPQ: It’s been great chatting with you. I look forward to your next book. Do you want to leave our readers with any little hint of what’s next?
EC: I am terrifically excited about 2016. It starts with a free e-book novella in May which is a prequel to the full-length novel releasing in June called From this Moment. It is a brisk, alternatingly joyful and emotional novel set in the high society world of Boston in 1897. It’s my first novel with a major secondary romance threaded into it, and I’m thrilled with the way it turned out.
QPQ: Wonderful! We look forward to seeing both of these new works in the months to come. Thank you for visiting with us today.