Wendy Van Camp writes science fiction, regency historical, and scifaiku poetry. No Wasted Ink is her platform featuring essays, poetry, flash fiction, and author interviews. Wendy's stories and poems appear in magazines such as "Quantum Visions", "Scifaikuest", “Lit Up”, “Writing Cooperative”, and “Far Horizons." She has won Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest and is a graduate of the James Gunn Speculative Fiction Workshop.
Is your recent book part of a series? If so, can you tell us a bit about where the story is heading?
My first and so far, only book is The Curate's Brother. It is a women’s historical fiction based off the characters and setting from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. I am not a romance author, per se, but I fell in love with Jane Austen’s work and I couldn’t help myself from writing with her characters and historical setting. My novelette can serve as a prequel to Persuasion, but it is also the first of four books I am writing that will take Austen's characters on a new journey.
In the summer of 1806, a young curate is surprised by the arrival of his brother, Commander Frederick Wentworth of the British Royal Navy. All the good commander wants is to flirt and dance with the ladies until he is called back to the sea. He is drawn to a baronet's daughter and pays no heed to warnings that the girl is above his station even as Frederick's flirting with another young beauty infuriates his brother.
At the end of summer, a letter and package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which will prevail? The bold actions of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?
Books two through four will take the reader into different historical settings and showcase the English culture of the time. You will get a taste of battle at sea, the marriage mart in London, a sense of the structure of class of the time period, and the plight of women during this era. While the story has sweet romantic elements, it is more a historical drama.
Can you tell us about what you're currently working on?
The planet Mars has always fascinated me and I want to write stories set on this world. When I start writing about a setting, I write haikus about little moments in time set in the location. It helps me feel grounded with the place on an emotional level. I have a large number of these poems in my files as I research Mars for an upcoming novel series. Eventually, I hope to have both a poetry chapbook and the novel series to publish. Meanwhile, you can see some of my illustrated poetry on my website.
I am also at work finishing up the historical regency series. It is the only historical that I have planned currently. The rest of my work is a mixture of science fiction and fantasy stories and poems.
Do you write under a pen name? If so, can you tell us why?
I don’t believe in pen names. If my work is good enough to publish, it is good enough to have my real name on it. Likewise, I don’t believe in hiding my gender behind initials. Too many women have been forced to do this in the past. I wish to make a stand and be plain about who I am. Besides, in this day and age, it is fairly impossible to hide your identity. If a reader wants to know, there are too many ways to find the information.
That works for everyone who is not like me and does not have a surname everyone pronounces wrong.
What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?
I tend to favor novels with strong and memorable characters. A solid plot is good too, but if the people are not someone that I can care about, I tend to lose interest in the story rapidly. I also like a good balance between description and pacing. I have a good imagination and don’t need too many details to bog down a story, but I also appreciate the care that goes into a well-crafted fantasy or science fiction world.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
I must have been born to be a writer because I was telling stories verbally even at a very young age. I started writing my first “book” at the tender age of 4 or 5 years, handwritten in child’s scrawl. I wrote a second novel when I was 16 and sent it in to Ace for consideration. It was rejected and rightly so. It is not readable.
In college, I wrote short stories and had my first success of being published in small college chapbooks, but I left it behind when I decided to follow my dream of being a filmmaker. Instead of writing stories, I told tales with a camera. For the next fifteen years or so, I worked in Hollywood as a television producer/director and directed hundreds of television programs. It was my dream and I gave it everything….until I burned out and left the industry. I then started a small artisan jewelry business which grew until I was selling at pricey art shows, conventions, and concerts. Writing was the last thing on my mind.
I’m not sure how or why my need for storytelling started again. When I was in my mid 40’s, a character suddenly woke up in me and wouldn’t go away until I started to write his story. I told myself that I was content as an artisan jeweler and that this new urge to write was merely a hobby. I joined Nanowrimo and started to hang out with fellow beginning writers, picking up pointers as I soldiered on, but didn’t take writing seriously.
This story is a science fiction steampunk tale and I’m still working on it after all these years. From a single novel, it has blossomed into a full trilogy. I consider it my opus and hope to publish the series one day, but it is still not ready. I work on it from time to time, but usually put it away to work on new projects.
A few years after that awakening, I started the women’s historical series and managed to publish book one. It was after I published The Curate's Brother that I realized that somewhere down the road my hobby had turned into a profession. I was a published author and happy to be so I still make and sell jewelry, but most of my focus now is on writing and selling my books, short stories, and poems.
Yeah, writing can be like a weed sometimes. You think it's gone and then poof! It's taken over your life.
Where did the idea of your story come from?
The idea for The Curate’s Brother started out as a different story that I called “Letters From The Sea” that formed in me a few months after I read the Austen novel and fell in love with the characters in Persuasion. Most of the story was told through the eyes of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. Only the first chapter was told via Edward Wentworth’s eyes. The chapter simply did not fit with the rest of the book. One day, I thought to myself that I should take this one chapter and turn it into a stand-alone short story.
I brought this short story to my science fiction critique group. It did not go well. Half the men refused to read it because it was “romance” and most of the others flat out hated it. Only one writer thought it had promise. She told me “the story needs ten thousand more words” and she outlined the main plot points of my short story for me. I had a plot there. A true beginning, middle and end, but it was lacking in details.
Over the next two weeks, I wrote like a demon and the majority of the scenes were added, making the story a novelette in length. I could not get the science fiction critique group to agree to reread my story. I took it to another critique group, one that had a mix of genre. There my new story was greeted with a different tone. Most of the people loved it and several said that they felt it was ready to publish. So a week or two later, that is what I did. The novelette has done well, selling thousands of copies.
Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else required for your creative process?
I used to be a night owl and did my best writing after midnight until around 3am. The house would be quiet and the phone wouldn’t ring. I felt that I could get work done. I drove my husband crazy with that schedule.
Lately, this has changed. I tend to do my best writing on my laptop at the local coffeehouse. I write in the afternoons and enjoy an iced coffee or two as I write. When I am out of the house I am less tempted by the internet, chores, the phone and other distractions. I enjoy the occasional personal interaction at the coffeehouse, but most people will respect that you are there to work and do not trouble you. It also gives my husband a visual cue to know that I am “at work." He is less likely to contact me during my set writing time out of the home.
I still work in my home office. I’ve been taking up writing via dictation this year and I find that I do this first thing in the morning. Once I have it transcribed, I still need to work on the rough draft via the keyboard. So this means I get in more drafting time every morning and I continue with my old schedule at the coffeehouse during afternoons on my writing days. It is a new balance for me. No more late nights and I can indulge in more coffee. Win-win.
A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are. What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?
Reviews matter. Period. Many services will not consider an author until she has at least 50 reviews on Amazon, so even a one or two sentence review is helpful. This is more critical for indy authors such as myself. We make or break it on our reviews. If there is an author that you enjoy, please support this creative with honest and positive reviews. You are performing a wonderful act of kindness for them.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Never give up. Never surrender. Seriously. If you have stories inside you, keep on writing them down. This is a great time to be a writer. Never in the history of the world has it been so easy to make a living for yourself with the creative arts. Learn your marketing and the business side of the job, but otherwise write what you love and share it with the world. We are waiting for you.
If you could have a dinner with one fictional person, who would it be? Why?
Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek. First off, I would love to visit the Enterprise and perhaps have dinner in Ten Forward. I envision a fascinating conversation about diplomacy, archeology, life in Star Fleet all delivered by a consummate gentleman. Make the beverage: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
If you could go to any fictional world, where would you go? Why?
The planet Pern, from Anne McCaffery’s Dragonriders of Pern series, would be my first choice. I’d love to visit the mountain Weyrs and see the dragons and their riders. To sit in the audience at a dragon hatching and place bets on who would impress. Harperhall would also be a major pull for me. I’d love to jam on my guitar with Menolly and have Piemur join us on the drums. What a set that would be!
If you could have one magical ability/superpower, what would it be? How would you use it?
I’d love the ability to travel in time. I don’t want to change things. If there is anything that I’ve gleaned from fiction is that those that go back to change the time stream usually muck things up worse than had they left things as is. Let each generation stand on their own watch. I would love to observe, to see the kings of ancient times, to visit fallen wonders of the world in their prime, or see frontiers before they became civilized. By seeing the beginning, I would gain a better understanding of what we are now.
As a history nerd, I fully endorse the use of that superpower.
What creature is better: dragons, zombies, or aliens?
Dragons, of course! I’m biased since I was born in the year of the dragon.
Thank you for coming on my blog!
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!