Sing Sweet Nightingale Tour: Interview with Author

By Erica Cameron
Published on March 4, 2013
Published by Spencer Hill
Source: Publisher
Mariella Teagen hasn't spoken a word in four years. 

She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever. 

Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.

Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.

Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella's life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.

1.  Can you tell us the story behind your cover? I know a few things about it already- I know that the cover model is a blogger. I also know that you love masks and the model is wearing a mask. 
I do love masks—I have seven of them hanging on my wall; they’re so pretty!—but the masks were the photographer and my editors’ idea. We started talking about cover concepts a long time before the photo shoot. One of Jeremy’s early concepts evoked a kind of “Alice falling down the rabbit hole” feeling. It was gorgeous, but the most important thing to me—the ONLY thing I fought for on the cover—was that it matched the feeling an content of the book. And Mariella doesn’t fall. Not into trouble and not out of it. She walks. Or dives headfirst. So we went back and came up with another concept that would have involved a long shopping list of random items and a photo shoot in an abandoned prison. I’m actually a little upset this one didn’t happen if only because I was really looking forward to wandering around a creepy, abandoned prison. Logistically and visually, though, that concept fell through. Luckily, my editresses Danielle Ellison and Patricia Riley know people who know people who look like my characters. When they invited me to join them for the photo shoot last March, how could I possibly say no? I was no less pleased when I met Kit from Reading Teen, Andye’s daughter, I knew we’d found a wonderful Mariella! She was so patient and incredibly willing to jump into whatever we asked her to do. We were aiming huge fans at her for one part of the shoot and then having her stand, kneel, pretend to sleep on that hard floor, and she never complained. The couch in the cover photo (which really is as oversized as it looks) was a lucky find in the studio! It was just shoved into a corner and the couch shots were some of the last we did. Et voila! Magic. ;)

2. You have degrees in Creative Writing and Psychology. How did your psychology come into play with Sing Sweet Nightingale?
Well, it did and it didn’t. I played with the blatantly false theory that humans only use ten percent of their brain capacity. I also incorporate some of the slightly more true hypotheses on brain wave patterns, like the studies conducted by Richard Davidson on Buddhist monks studying under the Dalai Lama. Meditation and training had actually changed the activity levels and patterns within their brains, specifically the Gamma waves. I took this theory and took it further, asking the question of what would happen if someone managed to make their brain run on a frequency we haven’t even discovered yet? So my degree came in handy as it allowed me to understand the basics of these concepts, but I only used them as a jumping off point, twisting them to suit my needs. The more legitimate use of my (admittedly limited) psychological training is in character reactions and layering their many ingrained issues. Because I like to be mean to my characters like that. :D  

3. What is your favorite line from your book?
The story of my life is written in the wounds on my skin.
This line comes from one of Hudson’s early chapters and it’s also one of the few sentences that survived intact all the way from the first draft to the last draft.
The conversation of favorite lines with readers is one of the ones I look forward to most. Everyone connects with different lines for different reasons and I love it when their favorites surprise me. For example, a friend of mine recently picked a line that I’d never considered. To me it was a way to characterize the character speaking and never thought about it much beyond that, but she loved it. It spoke to her. I love that kind of thing.   

4. What inspires you? Are there specific authors, shows, movies, or music that really inspires you or The Dream Wars Saga?
Me in general? Tamora Pierce and Stephenie Meyer are the two authors who specifically fueled my desire to write, but stories in general have always been a passion of mine, whether they’re told in words on a page, actors on a stage, images on a screen, or lyrics sung to music. It’s all awesome. Some of the particular inspirations for Sing Sweet Nightingale, and thus The Dream War Saga, are “Mariella” by Kate Nash, “Creation Lake” by Silversun Pickups, and the movie What Dreams May Come.

5. Now that you are a published author, what would you say to yourself if you could go back 5 years and have a chat?
Keep plugging away. That’s really all there was to it. I wasn’t writing anything worth publishing five years ago. Everything that lead to the publication of this novel happened in a way that seemed exactly choreographed to make me believe that it couldn’t have happened any other way at any other time with any other book. It had to be here and now and this. So all I would tell my past self is write. Read and write and observe and learn and store all of that up for the day when you can put your practice to good use.

6.  Since Sing Sweet Nightingale is about dreams, what is your most vivid dream (not your best, but the one that is most unforgettable)?
Oddly enough for someone who chose to write a book about dreams, I don’t remember many of my dreams. Sometimes I wake up with a “Well, that was weird” kind of feeling, but even that is infrequent. So I’ll tell you about my most recent dream.
From what I remember, I was in charge of protecting a six-year-old girl from an assassination attempt. We were running and hiding in a building that seemed half office complex and half morgue, being chased by gunmen the whole time. Finally, one of the shooters catches up to us. I save the little girl (the how of that is really fuzzy) and the bad guys shoot me and then they’re just kind of… gone. Or I don’t remember that part. One or the other. After that, I’m bleeding and the little girl pats me on the head and leaves now that she’s safe. Somehow, I manage to stumble out to the street to find a cab only to discover that one of my friends from high school is standing there with his a cappella singing group accepting one of those enormous checks for winning some sort of singing competition.
And then I woke up.
Dreams are weird.

7. The characters in your book have unusual names- what is the inspiration behind the names?
I love names! Unlike when you have to consider naming a child (which I have never done), you know what kind of person you’re dealing with when you name a character. You can give their name a special and/or significant meaning, sound, or flow because you know what’s important in that character’s life or personality. Sometimes I look for names that have a particular meaning (I have a baby name app on my phone), but other times the name is significant for a different reason. Mariella, for instance, was named after the song “Mariella” by Kate Nash because that song inspired her character. Hudson is named after the river in New York because I wanted the name to bring up an image of something constant and consistent; plus, the town my mother grew up in is on that banks of that river! With Dawn I wanted something bright and cheerful and hippy-ish while still being short and kind of to-the-point, just like she is. Horace Gregory Lawson III is the third bearer of his name, a name whose source would date back to the 19th century, so his name had to reflect the time period it would have originated in. Each character has a reason behind their name and those reasons aren’t the same from person to person. It’s a fantastic feeling finding the right name for the right character!

8. What is next for you?That all depends on what sells! My agent, Danielle Chiotti, has two completely different series on submission for me right now—one is a YA contemporary romance I co-wrote with Lani Woodland and the other is a pretty epic YA fantasy—and I’m working on a YA contemporary thriller that’s about a quarter of the way written right now. It’ll be interesting to see what readers have to say. One thing I know for sure is that my career is going to be all over the map!

About the Author

Erica Cameron knew that writing was her passion when she turned a picture book into a mystery novella as a teen. That piece wasn’t her best work, but it got her an A. After college, she used her degree in Psychology and Creative Writing to shape a story about a dreamworld. Then a chance encounter at a rooftop party in Tribeca made her dream career a reality.
Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dancer, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon d├ęcor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.
Her debut novel Sing Sweet Nightingale releases March 4, 2014 from Spencer Hill Press. It is the first book in The Dream War Saga.
Erica is represented by Danielle Chiotti at Upstart Crow Literary. However, for subrights inquiries on Sing Sweet Nightingale, contact Rebecca Mancini at Rights Mix. Regarding publicity for The Dream War Saga, contact Cindy Thomas at cthomas {@} spencerhillcontemporary {.} com.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:
3/3/2014- Bookish Things & moreReview
3/3/2014- Bibliophilia, PleaseInterview
3/4/2014- Lola's Reviews- Review
3/4/2014- A Backwards StoryGuest Post
3/5/2014- YaReadsReview
3/5/2014- Addicted ReadersInterview
3/6/2014- Once Upon A TwilightReview
3/7/2014- Seeing Night Reviews - Review
3/7/2014- The Irish Banana ReviewGuest Post

Week Two:
3/10/2014- Chasm of Books- Review
3/10/2014- Lost in Ever AfterInterview
3/11/2014- The Demon LibrarianReview
3/11/2014- Paulette's PapersGuest Post
3/12/2014- Poisoned RationalityReview
3/12/2014- The Best Books EverInterview
3/13/2014- Spiced Latte ReadsReview
3/13/2014- Dark NovellaGuest Post
3/14/2014- A Dream Within A DreamReview
3/14/2014- Parajunkee's View- Interview 

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