Historical Novel Society Conference 2013

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Interview with author Michelle Cameron

I’m looking forward to going to my first Historical Novel Society conference. It’s being held June 21-23 down in St. Petersburg, Florida. Meanwhile, I’ll be hosting some interviews here on my blog with authors who are featured speakers at this year’s conference. I’m posting the first of these today, and my guest is author Michelle Cameron. Her historical novel THE FRUIT OF HER HAND sounds fascinating. It’s based on the life of her thirteenth-century ancestors, a renowned Jewish scholar and his wife, a devout but rebellious woman who preserves her religious traditions as she and her family witness the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. Michelle is currently completing a novel about the Babylonian exile of the Judean people.

Michelle-Cameron-The-Fruit-of-her-HandsWhat got you first interested in historical fiction?

Oh, books, of course. First was Desire by Annemarie Selinko, which my older sister gave me, then anything by Victoria Holt, and Katherine by Anya Seyton. Recently, I came across a high school yearbook, and under “what will you be when you grow up?” I’d written historical novelist. And it came true!

How do you find the people and topics of your books?

A lot of time they find me. My first novel, written about my 13th Century rabbi ancestor, definitely did – I was looking in my family tree for something entirely different, and found an account about him there.

Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?

I spend about three months or so acclimating myself to the period, doing pure research. But it’s hard for me to stop imagining scenes when I research, so I tend to start writing/researching simultaneously around the third-month mark. And then I never stop!

For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

When I was on book tour with my debut novel, THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS, I used to say that the historical events were real, but the characters and their relationships were fiction. This continues to be true in subsequent novels.

Do you have an anecdote about a reading or fan interaction you’d like to share?

It’s always amazing hearing that people stayed up just to read your book, that they couldn’t put it down. I’ve been blessed by great readers!

Is there an era/area that is your favorite to write about? How about to read?

Michelle Cameron

Michelle Cameron

Just as I jump about in time in my writing (from the Elizabethan era to the Middle Ages to the Babylonian epoch to the French Revolution), I jump about in my reading as well. If it’s well-crafted historical fiction, I’m happy to immerse myself in just about any time period.

What are your favorite reads? Favorite movies? Dominating influences?

Too many to recount. My bedside table overflows with books and I’m a tremendous re-reader as well.

Is there a writer, living or deceased, you would like to meet?

Anne Tyler. I know she doesn’t write historical fiction, but I love her writing!

What book was the most fun for you to write?

Probably my verse novel, IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE. Because I had already gotten to know the characters so intimately when I first attempted to include them in a never-published (thank god!) YA novel, the poems that made up the narrative literally flowed out of me.

For more about Michelle you can visit her website.