Author interview with Camille ~
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
I’m the #1 Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of ten books, a master certified coach, and a journalist who has contributed to Forbes, The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Time, WebMD, and numerous other outlets. Like many novelists, I always wanted to write fiction, but I was the first person in my family to attend college and I didn’t know anyone who made a living from writing or art. In fact, even my English professors advised me to do something “practical”! So I went into health journalism—my youngest sister had a lot of serious health issues as a child, and I’m passionate about health and psychology—and worked at a handful of health publications before striking out as an independent journalist in 2004.
I loved journalism and made good money from it … but in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “When are you going to write a novel?” Then, just before I turned 30, I gave birth to my daughter, and one of my dear friends was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It was one of those “what am I even doing with my life?” moments, and I decided to stop waiting for the ever-elusive “one day” or “right time” and just do it. Every night, after my daughter went to bed, I sat down to write. Four months later, I had a draft on my hands, and that became my debut, The Art of Forgetting. There have been plenty of ups and downs since then, but now I publish at least a novel a year and have the kind of career I once only dreamed of.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
To be honest, outside of exercising and spending time with my family, I don’t really have any non-writing or reading-related hobbies! But I am a master certified life coach and run a busy practice helping aspiring to established writers create even better careers.
Do you have a particular writing routine?
I write for three hours in the morning, five days a week. Occasionally, I write longer when I’m on deadline or in the middle of edits, but three solid hours is enough for me to write a draft in about three to four months. I use that same chunk of time for editing, but I do marketing in small chunks in the afternoons.
Do you have a ‘day job’ as well?
I spend most of the second half of my day coaching and working on that side of my business. For me, neither writing or coaching really feels like a “job”—they’re both a joy. I come away from coaching conversations feeling clear and inspired, and when I write, I feel most like myself.
What was the original title of this book? Good for You! I come up with all of my titles and I have yet to have a publisher change them (knock on wood). For me, titles are a crucial part of the creative process and inform the tone of the book. I usually come up with the title right before I begin writing, or at the latest, several chapters in.
Do you have a manuscript(s) in your drawer? If so, will it ever see the light of day? Yes—four of them, actually! I wrote three truly terrible novels between my debut and my second published book, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences. Then, a few years ago, I wrote a book that I swore would be “the one”—the novel that would take my career to the next level. My agent was excited about it, too, but when we brought it to my publisher, they said (to paraphrase), “Yeah, no—this is off-brand for you.” I decided to set it aside and move forward with another book, which, frankly, didn’t perform well (I don’t think that’s a coincidence, and I no longer write books based on an idea approved by a publishing board or committee). The experience inspired me to hire a coach, which then ultimately led me to become a coach, so I’m profoundly grateful for it.
If I wasn’t an author, I might be…? I’d either be a full-time coach or a full-time health journalist. I almost went to graduate school for public health in my twenties, only to realize that after I graduated (with 100k in debt!), I’d go right back to writing about health. But truly, if I ever couldn’t or no longer wanted to write fiction for some reason, I’d find a way to combine coaching and journalism.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Absolutely: ignore all the people (even the industry “experts”) who say you’ll sooner be struck by lightning than become a successful author. In fact, I suspect one big reason I was able to write and sell my debut quickly was because I didn’t tell anyone other than my husband and my dear friend who had cancer that I was writing a novel; I just didn’t want to hear well-meaning people tell me not to get my hopes up.
I’ve now worked with hundreds of writers of all backgrounds, writing in numerous genres. From that view, I believe that finding success as an author is maybe ten to twenty percent talent and perhaps a quarter know-how. The rest is mindset. It’s not an easy profession; setbacks are inevitable. The only way to succeed is to keep going, and that requires managing your thoughts and emotions. If you’re willing to do that, and develop the belief that it’s possible for you to have the career you want, then it will, in fact, be possible. (If this resonates with you, I have a weekly newsletter that’s focused on mindset and career strategy: Evenbetter.co/howto)
To connect with Camille ~