29 October 2008

Interview- Shykia Bell, author of Camileon

Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you come to that decision and how long ago did you start to pursue it?
I’ve always had a love for writing, but I thought I would have a life-long career as a designer or artist. It wasn’t until I left my job as a graphics coordinator did I realize my hidden desire to become an author.

When did you first get the idea for Camileon and what was the inspiration behind it?
The idea for Camileon emerged two days after I submitted my two weeks notice from my job. I decided to write in order to soothe myself. Those writings quickly transformed into the tale of Camileon. It was a therapeutic form of escape and I was finally able to stretch my creativity without any restrictions. I was also inspired by the fact that every paranormal sci-fi film or book I’ve seen usually has a white main character—usually male. I wanted to create something different by presenting a biracial female character—without all the negative stereotypes. However, my biggest inspiration for Camileon is the message that will unfold throughout the series.

How long ago did you first start writing Camileon?
I began writing the story in March of 2007 and it was basically completed late that summer, so it took about five months before intensive editing. After months of rejected submissions to agents I decided to self-publish. Holding the first finished copy of Camileon in my hands was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. I still hope to get signed by a traditional publisher someday, but time will tell.

When can we expect the next book? What can you tell us about it?
Well, at the moment I’m nearing the halfway mark in the second installment of Camileon. I hope to complete it by March 2009. If I meet that deadline, I think there's a strong possibility the second book will be released in July 2009—exactly a year after the first one was published. The plot deepens and becomes even more intense as exciting new characters are brought into the mix. Questions left unanswered in the first novel will be explained, new mysteries will be presented and things will get extremely interesting! There wasn’t much room for romance in the first novel, but that may very well change in the second.

How many books are planned in all?
Camileon is the first novel in a planned trilogy.

Do you have anything in common with Camile?
I’d be lying if I said Camile and I share no common traits. She came into being during a very difficult time in my life. Like Camile, I’ve often felt a disconnection with the rest of the world as I contemplated my life’s purpose. However, I believe I’ve found that purpose through my writing. Based on what I’ve witnessed, I’ve been able to touch more people in the past year than I probably have in my entire lifetime. It’s truly a blessing—one that I don’t take for granted.

Have any authors inspired your writing style?
Though I admire many authors for the creativity they express through their work, I strive to discover my own voice. It might sound a bit unusual, but when I’m creating—whether it’s a novel, poem, painting or drawing—I’m most inspired by music.

What's the first book you remember reading?
Wow, that takes me way back. The Fun with Dick and Jane series comes to mind. I can still See Spot Run. Oh boy, I think I just dated myself. *laughs*

What were some of your favorite books and authors as a kid/teen?
As a teen I absolutely loved a variety of books by authors such as R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike and Stephen King. Other memorable books include Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Shakespeare’s Othello. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but I can still remember how much Iago infuriated me and how tragic the story was. Any work of literature that evokes such a lasting reaction must be something special.

What are some you'd like to recommend?
They’re all great books, but I’d definitely recommend The Giver. I’m planning to revisit that one myself in the near future.