I’ll admit it, a few months ago I didn’t know who Sharon Cameron was. I didn’t know about this book called The Dark Unwinding. That is, until Book Expo America 2012.
As I stood on massive lines, met fellow bloggers, and picked up some great books I notices a number of people with these intriguing postcards displaying a very pretty girl in a very pretty blue dress.
Lo and behold I came across the Scholastic booth and found the postcard. Curiosity piqued I asked if there were any available copies. What I got was even better.
Not only was Scholastic kind enough to give mean ARC, but I also had the chance to meet Sharon Cameron and get the ARC signed.
I couldn’t wait to read this book! And from the moment I started reading I knew this was going to be a great read.
I absolutely loved everything about The Dark Unwinding, the lush descriptions, the realistic characters, the wonderful writing…everything!
I knew I had to feature author Sharon Cameron on the blog! And luckily, she was gracious enough to answer a few question for me and my readers.
BookBandit (BB): Can you tell me about yourself, and about your path as a writer?
Sharon Cameron (SC): I think of myself as an “accidental” writer, meaning that it never occurred to me to write until one day, on a whim, I tried it. It took about 45 minutes at the computer to decide I was changing my life, and I’m glad I did. That was seven years ago. Before that I was a classical pianist, which, strangely, was great training for becoming a novelist. It’s amazing to work creatively one on one with the same person over a period of years, it really shows you how unique each person can be. I just quit my day job this past May, a bittersweet day.
BB: What was the inspiration behind The Dark Unwinding?
SC: Lots of different ideas that came from completely different sources, and all of which fascinated me: Victorian clockwork, secret passages, the underground tunnels of Welbeck Abbey in England, the dark creepy tone of stories like Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. All of these little interests and obsessions somehow melded in my mind and became something new. Transforming what you know into something unexpected is one of the coolest things about being a writer, I think.
BB: What kind of research did you do in order to write this book?
SC: I read a ton of primary source material, particularly first hand accounts of people who had visited Welbeck Abbey during the Victorian era. These writings were invaluable, as much as for what they didn’t say as what they did. No one seemed willing to tell the Duke that having walls around your bed, a railway in the basement, pink paint in every room and building miles of gaslit tunnels was not exactly normal behavior. But I also did some heavy research on autism, savant syndrome, and the eccentric minds of creative scientists.
BB: The Dark Unwinding is your first published novel. If you had to describe it using only three words, how would you describe it?
SC: Gothic, intriguing, and romantic (in all meanings of the 19th century word!)
BB: What was the best part of writing The Dark Unwinding? The hardest part? And if you had to write it all over again, what is only thing you would do differently?
SC: Besides the research (which I loved) I think the best part about writing The Dark Unwinding is that I really did just sit down and indulge myself, writing exactly the kind of story I’ve always loved to read. And I got to pay homage to some of my favorite writers, particularly Austen and Charlotte Bronte. But ironically, this also led to the hardest part. While making the language and turn of phrase very Austen or Bronte-esque, (and therefore believable for the period), I had to work very hard to keep the writing relatable to a modern reader.
If I got to do something differently, I think it would be to make the story longer!
BB: Besides Katherine, my favorite character was Lane. Of all your characters in The Dark Unwinding, which was your favorite to create and why? Which one do you most identify with?
SC: I loved writing Katharine and Lane. But I think my favorites were Uncle Tully and Davy, both because they were so challenging. Finding the correct voice for Uncle Tully –one that was unique, and yet respectful toward his condition– was the result of some real trial and error. And of course since Davy doesn’t speak at all, it had to be his actions, expressions, and the way others reacted to him that really built his character, rather than his thoughts or dialog.
On a personal level, I definitely relate to Katharine the most. While she’s definitely not me, we do share some characteristics, such as a tendency to have a lot more going on beneath the surface that we usually show to the world.
BB: Personally, I found your book to be, not only fresh, but unlike any other teen book out on the market today. It’s so unique. As the author, what sets The Dark Unwinding apart from other teen books?
SC: I think what probably sets The Dark Unwinding apart is that it was not really written for teens, not specifically. I believe in writing for people that love story, whatever age they happen to be. I can only hope that readers will find the stories I write not only meaningful during their teen years, but long after they’ve moved to other seasons of life. But I do love featuring characters in their teens, because those years are so full of “firsts” and so many new aspects of being.
BB: You are a young adult author, so I have to ask — who are some of your favorite teen authors, and what are some of your favorite teen books?
SC: One of my favorites is Ruta Sepetys, both for Between Shades of Gray and her new novel on the way, Out of the Easy. I’m also a huge fan of Megan Whalen Turner’s Eugenides series.
BB: Can you tell about any upcoming projects? And if readers/fans can expect more from Katherine, Uncle Tully, and the mysteries of Stranwyne Keep?
SC: Yes! There is a sequel to The Dark Unwinding, scheduled for fall of 2013, but I can’t say more than that. Stay tuned!
BB: What advice could you offer to aspiring authors?
SC: Read, read, read. And then read some more. Work your craft, and write the story that is unique to you. And I can’t say enough about joining professional organizations like Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. A wealth of information and such an amazing support system to be had! SCBWI made a huge difference to me and my career.
As a very special treat to my readersScholastic and Sharon Cameron were VERY generous to send me a hardcover copy of The Dark Unwinding to give away to one lucky winner.
As a bonus I will also throw in an assortment of bookmarks and some swag.
To enter you must be 13 years old or older, and live in the U.S.
Leave a comment on THIS blog post telling me what your favorite book, published in 2012, is (so far) since The Dark Unwinding was one of my fave 2012 reads. When posting your comment please make sure to leave a valid email address.
One winner will be selected by random number generator and will be notified by mail. Winner will have two days (48 hours) to respond to email, if response not received a new winner will be selected.
This giveaway will run from today, November 10th (noon) until November 16th (11:59 pm).