This week’s #SPFBO author interview is with Cameron Wayne Smith.
Cameron is an Australian author with a taste for excitement in both real life and between the pages.
He has spent his adult life travelling and learning about the world while working in hospitality and tourism. Right now he works as a librarian in Tasmania and writes fantastic stories in his spare time.
The idea to write a story, set in a fantasy world he created as a teenager, came to him in 2013. He wrote on and off for a couple of years and in late 2015 self-published the first installment of the Necrosanguin series. Now the complete trilogy is available on Amazon.
His stories are full of weird, wonderful, and unique creatures. If you'd like to get to know them—before or after reading his stories—check out the full art bestiary "Bristrunstium Monster Records" on his web page http://www.cameronwaynesmith.com
Outside of writing, Cameron's hobbies include travel, skydiving, bush-walking, snorkelling, and brewing his own beer. He also loves all the geeky, fantasy, and science fiction stuff that you can find in books, games, and on screen.
What drew you to self-publishing?
I originally decided to write a book—completely out of the blue—for myself. I had a couple of people read it and tell me I should self-publish it, so I did. I've since learnt a little more about self-publishing and am enjoying learning and building my platform.
Why did you enter #spfbo?
I'm a fan of Mark Lawrence, and after seeing the opportunity pop up on his blog, I quickly jumped on board! I think it is a great opportunity to give newer writers an opportunity to be noticed. The community also happens to be amazing and supportive. Bonus!
What is the first book that made you cry?
Men don't cry, do we? Generally, I read action and fantasy, so steer clear of touchy feely stuff. I did feel some uncomfortable tugs on the heartstrings in King of Thorns when 'an end came to Justice.' I don't think I'll ever toughen up to that kind of brutality.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
When really bland, average stories, that feel like clones—and often aren't written all that well—magically make it to the New York Best Seller list. Technically, you could say that nothing is truly original, but encountering stuff that feels like complete clones of other works—that's had amazing marketing and taken off—feels like an abuse of readers and a cash grab for the author/publisher.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It does both. A good day of writing can really tire me out. Talking to friends, my partner, or even complete strangers about this awesome new twist, short story, or character I've invented can really rejuvenate the soul! I find it often has a snowball effect, the more I exhaust myself writing, the more I rave about my creations, which fuels me to go harder before exhaustion again!
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Knowing how to take critiques. I'm a relatively confident bloke, and when I first started out, being told I was wrong (about anything!) often involved me offering a single fingered salute. Not surprisingly, my earlier works have been reworked a few times!
Later I became a bit more modest and started taking my critiques more seriously. I joined a writing group and started taking on board EVERY thing I was told. Eventually, I realised the occasional conflicting points would come up and learnt that everyone cannot be right. I think accepting all criticism is important, but to be the best and truest to your abilities, you need to decide which opinions to take on board.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Video games. If I ever decide “I'll, just have a little taste, I can control it” my writing output drops down (sometimes to 0 words a day) until I've finished the game. Despite years of thinking “I can control it” I've only just recently taken it into account. I (try to) control this by only purchasing a new game after releasing a new book... starting since I released my last book!
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Both. In my first series, Necrosanguin, you could read the first book, then stop with a satisfying story. You could then read the second and be even more satisfied. If you were to read the third (out in July!), you'd be blown away with the climax. While they don't stand alone singularly, each story ends with a feeling of completion. I'm writing my second series (Holtur) with the same ideals. Each a complete meal, but if you want the best experience, have the entrée first and finish with the dessert! The two series have little easter eggs here and there, but missing one will not affect the experience of the other. I plan on sticking with this theme.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Boulderclaws, the third Necrosanguin book is going through proof reading and having the cover art worked on. The Holtur Curse has had the first 13 chapters drafted. I want to say that's half the draft complete, but some outlined chapters have multiplied by up to three! The story may be a little longer than expected. I won't shortcut the draft to make it shorter or finish it sooner, but I can say it is going to be well worth the wait! I also have 5 short stories connected with Holtur. At the end of the year, I'll be bundling up all the short stories I write for an anthology at Christmas!
How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Honestly, not long enough. I am writing full time this year, but only because my partner scored a good, remote job and wanted me to dedicate myself full time to the cause. I've learnt a lot and improved in leaps and bounds, but I'd recommend planning well in advance in you intend to so. Not just financially, but psychosocially it is quite taxing. I'd recommend phasing into it, perhaps with a casual or part time job first.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I’ve never really felt it difficult to write a scene as such. There is a new slayer called Ansgren in The Holtur Curse, and every scene he appears in does take a little extra time to polish off. When it comes out, you'll understand why!
What is your favorite childhood book?
I remember loving this series called “The Zagor Chronicles” when I was a youngen. Can't remember it too well, but I remember I pronounced “citadel” as “Kit-tad-del.” Pretty sure that's when my parent's realised I'd be a writer.
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