Archive for June 20th, 2011

Camilla Chafer is a freelance journalist, non-fiction book writer (and editor) and debut novelist. She’s written for dozens of newspapers, magazines and websites throughout the world on a wide range of issues from politics and technology to education and lifestyle. At times she’s worked as a copywriter, book editor, blogger and something dull in central government that she can’t tell you about. A graduate of the University of Leeds, with degrees in European Politics and Security and Defence Analysis, Camilla now lives in London, UK with her family and geriatric cat.

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

I’m Camilla and I’m a journalist/author from London. In the book field I started out writing non-fiction, predominantly in the education/parenting sector. Meanwhile my novel Illicit Magic languished on my hard drive and there’s an even older one lurking there somewhere and probably some even older ones hand written (gasp) in notepads that date back to my teens. When I’m not writing fiction, I’m writing for newspapers, magazines and websites.

Do you have another job besides writing?

No, I’m a freelance journalist so writing is what I do. However that does mean I’m involved in a wide range of topics for lots of different clients. I could be writing on anything from technology to politics to lifestyle or giving a lecture in any given month. I also have a background in book editing so I know what it’s like being an editor as well as an author.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

I wanted to write a book that had a really strong heroine – not invulnerable, but thoughtful and who would grow as a character – and that combined with me being interested in witches. They are very much an embodiment of female power in the supernatural field and I really wanted to write about a strong character who would be able to have her own adventures.

Who is your target audience?

I wanted to write a supernatural mystery that was the next step up in age range from the myriad of YA paranormal fiction novels out there. I asked myself, what do these readers move on to when they get a bit older, when they’ve got through college, and that was part of the creative process to define my audience and the content. My heroine, Stella, is in her mid-twenties and we’re going to be able to grow up with her through the series.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

Generally just after I’ve turned off the lights for the night and snuggled under the covers. Then ping! I get an idea and have to turn the light back on, disturb the cat, find a pen and make some notes. By then I’ve got cold again.

As a writer, what scares you the most?

Disappointing my reader, without a doubt. I want to offer them the best book I can so they can enjoy it and muse it over in their minds, wishing there was a little bit more. I also fear typos. Irritating little beasts.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I tend to write chapter by chapter – though often a scene will spring out at me that I know will be in there later on, but I won’t know where to place it yet. So I write these scenes out of sequence and eventually they slot in. I’m not too precious about the process. In Unruly Magic, the sequel to Illicit Magic, I wrote the ending before I found out exactly how I was going to get there.

Sometimes, I’ll edit as I go along, generally because I’ve written something in a later chapter that needs some support or a clue in an earlier chapter and I don’t want to forget about it. Once I’ve got a full first draft, I start the first big edit where I copy edit and add extra description or dialogue and so on. After I’ve done all that, I start the process of several big edits to get the flow right and then there’s the final proofread to catch any errors.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

You can find out more about me and my books online at www.camillachafer.com and I try and add extras such as playlists and book group guides to give readers a bit more. I also write about the writing process using my background as book editor/ proofreader along with that of being an author of both non-fiction and fiction.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Illicit Magic is the first of the Stella Mayweather paranormal series. The sequel Unruly Magic, due out in July, picks up six months after Illicit Magic ended and takes us into a new era of Stella’s life. When a young girl turns up on Stella’s doorstep saying an ancient book told her Stella would be the one to protect her, she is reluctant to get involved. Dragged into the mystery of why several factions want the young witch, Stella is torn between two worlds: magic and a normal life, if only that decision were so simple. The third book, Devious Magic, is due out December 2011 and will see Stella come face to face with an arch enemy.

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