My lovely guest today is Camille Di Maio is the bestselling author of The Memory of Us, Before the Rain Falls, and The Way of Beauty, and she is part of the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll. She has been married for twenty years and has four children. She’s lived in four states, and held careers in political campaigning and real estate before giving it all up to pursue her dream of writing. Her other passion is travel and her bucket list is never-ending. You can connect with Camille via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Bookbub or her website. Learn more about her on Amazon. And here are the links to purchase The Way of Beauty, The Memory of Us and Before the Rain Falls.
What or who inspired you to first write?
I spent most of my recesses in grade school in the library and I read through nearly everything they had. I was fascinated by words, stories, and authors. And I wanted to be one of them someday.
Which authors have influenced you?
Early on, I was really inspired by Charlotte Brontë, L. M. Montgomery, and Laura Ingalls. My two favorite authors are Agatha Christie and Kate Morton.
What is the inspiration for your current book? Is there a particular theme you wished to explore?
My inspiration for The Way of Beauty was the original Penn Station in New York City. It was absolutely remarkable – from its inception to its building. And yet, it was torn down to build Madison Square Garden. Its loss brought about the preservation groups that went on to save hundreds of other buildings in the city. But a theme that started to emerge was that of women and I started to see a pattern in the life span of the train station and the arc of a woman’s life. I explored how they fought for the right to vote, how they took on the jobs of men during the war, and how they adjusted to a new, modern world in the middle of the century.
What period of history particularly inspires or interests you? Why?
I really love the first half of the 20th century. They faced many of the same challenges we do, but without the benefit of all of the technologies that we have. I’m inspired by what they had to sacrifice during war and how innovated they needed to be to straddle new opportunities.
What resources do you use to research your book? How long did it take to finish the novel?
I have been to New York many times, so I utilized my own experiences in the city and supplemented it with books, documentaries and Google Maps. It took me about a year to write the book, but I was thinking about it for several years before that. Most books spin in my head for a few years before I type one word on my laptop.
What do you do if stuck for a word or phrase?
I usually look up to the ceiling as if it will provide the answer! But if I don’t come up with what I want to say, I go to thesaurus.com and just start looking at lots of words until the right one calls out.
Is there anything unusual or even quirky that you would like to share about your writing?
I would say that my life is quirky and fitting writing into it is definitely unusual. I homeschool my four children (though my first is actually off to college, so three are at home now) and my husband works at home. So, the house has not been the best place to write. I steal away to the library or a coffee shop for a few hours a week and get in as much writing as I can.
Do you use a program like Scrivener to create your novel? Do you ever write in long hand?
I’m pretty old fashioned! I’m only a recent convert to depositing money in an ATM rather than walking in a bank, and I don’t have a bank app on my phone. So, no, I haven’t switched to the glory that I hear Scrivener is. I use Word, but it works for me! I don’t write my books in long hand, but I do write lots and lots of letters to people. I try to write about one letter per day.
Is there a particular photo or piece of art that strikes a chord with you? Why?
This has nothing to do with writing, but one of my favorite photos ever is the one of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa holding hands. I am struck at how the statuesque princess and the tiny old nun shared a sense of loving the less fortunate.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
See a first draft for what it is. A draft. Do not try to compare it to the finished works that you read. By the time a book is published, it has gone through countless drafts, a developmental edit, a copy edit, a proofread, and many other steps. If you believe you have a nugget of something good, just keep at it. Refine, refine, refine, but do not get discouraged because of comparison.
Tell us about your next book.
I’m just finishing my fourth, as-yet-untitled book. It is set in Coronado, California in the 1950s. There is a ghost, a mystery, a love story, and the tale of a young woman emerging from the expectations of her family. I loved writing something set at a beach!
Hearts and dreams evolve in the shadow of the once-magnificent Penn Station.
Vera Keller, the daughter of German immigrants in turn-of-the-century New York City, finds her life upended when the man she loves becomes engaged to another woman. But Angelo Bellavia has also inadvertently opened up Vera’s life to unexpected possibilities. Angelo’s new wife, Pearl, the wealthy daughter of a clothing manufacturer, has defied her family’s expectations by devoting herself to the suffrage movement. In Pearl, Vera finds an unexpected dear friend…and a stirring new cause of her own. But when Pearl’s selfless work pulls her farther from Angelo and their son, the life Vera craved is suddenly within her reach—if her conscience will allow her to take it.
Her choice will define not only her future but also that of her daughter, Alice.
Vera and Alice—a generation and a world apart—are bound by the same passionate drive to fulfill their dreams. As first mother and then daughter come of age in a city that is changing as rapidly as its skyline, they’ll each discover that love is the only constant.
Congratulations on your new release, Camille! Many thanks for sharing your sources of inspiration with us. You can purchase your copy of The Way of Beauty here.
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