camille di maio

Camille Di Maio is an award-winning real estate agent and exciting new author who currently resides in San Antiono; however she has seen a lot of America, having lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia and California.  Camille Di Maio released her debut novel, The Memory of Us in 2016 to a plethora of positive reviews, and is now working on her follow-up novel, Before the Rain Falls which will be released in 2017.  Camille always dreamed of being a writer and has had several pieces published in various regional magazines.  We believe Camille Di Maio to be an author on the rise, and we were excited to have the opportunity to talk books with her.  Please enjoy our interview with the talented Camille Di Maio…

When someone asks you ‘what do you do for a living?’ – How do you respond?

For the past ten years, I have said “Realtor”, but I am excited to now be saying “Author” now!

the dollhouseWhat are you reading at the moment?

I just started The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis, a fellow debut author.  It’s fantastic, and it’s pulling me out of a bit of a reading rut.

What’s your earliest memory of reading?

I remember reading Mother Goose Rhymes by Catherine McCafferty.  I think it’s such a great introduction to language and how it can be used.  I still have that old copy, quite worn.

If you could encourage young people to read one book in particular, what would it be?

If we’re talking about the grade-school set, I would recommendThe King Who Rained by Fred Gwynne, who also happened to be the star of The Munsters.  This book really captivated me as a child as I saw the different meaning of words that sound the same but are spelled differently, or words that can just have different meanings – like “train”.  I remember falling in love with words reading this book.

Can you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Oh, no!  That’s really digging into some days that are better left forgotten.  I wrote a story called “Mr. Wilson’s Rubber Band”, in which a musical band is turned into rubber under a witch’s evil spell.  Around the same time, I wrote “The Braid”, a short story about a girl with cancer.  Night and day there, right?!

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?

I worked for a post office contractor and we did speedy data entry to encode the mail.  I didn’t mind the work, and was actually pretty good at it.  But the conditions were awful.  You had to raise your hand for permission to use the restroom, and breaks and lunches were so regulated as to be almost inhuman.  Mandatory overtime lasting well into middle of the night hours was often required with the very real threat of firing if you didn’t comply.  It was a soul-sucker.

What two pieces of advice would you give a young aspiring writer?

Great question.  First, I would allow your writing attempts to be garbage.  If you compare your first efforts to published works, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  I promise you that published works have gone through countless drafts, reviews by editors, copy editors, proofreaders, etc.  It’s like putting makeup on a model for three hours – someone just waking up in the morning can’t expect to be that beautiful yet.  It takes a team.  Second, accepting that truth, push through and write and write and write, being open to constructive critiques so that you can become better.

Do you read as much as you’d like to?

There are never enough hours in a day for reading, but my Goodreads goal for the past few years has been one book a week, and I’ve surpassed that each time.  I would always love to read more, but that is quite satisfactory.

What books do you feel are important reading for people on your career path?

There are a lot of craft books out there, and some of my favourite are by Donald Maass and Les Edgerton.  However, I caution indulging in too many craft books – it can be very easy to lose your voice in trying to conform to some ideal.  Better to read a lot of books in the genre in which you write – you will develop an innate sense of what works in a story and that is the best teacher of all.

olivia and jaiIs there a book that you’ve read more than once? What is it and why did you revisit it?

There are many books I’ve read more than once, but an enduring favorite is Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman.  It has everything – forbidden romance, history, business, revenge, the works!  It was the debut novel of that author and it set my writing back for many years because I feared I would never compare.  Thankfully, I became comfortable with my own voice, but as a book – wow – it still leaves me breathless.

What book have you recommended the most to friends and family?

See above.  I can’t rave enough about Olivia and Jai by Rebecca Ryman, and I recommend it often since it’s so obscure.

Who would you say are the three writers that continue to inspire you?

Kate Morton for her fantastic use of beautiful words, Agatha Christie for her 100% record in stumping me, and Sophia Kinsella for never failing to make me laugh and smile.

What’s your favourite genre of book?

I love historical fiction.  I enjoy learning something while being engrossed in a story.

What do you think a world without books would be like?

That is not a planet that I want to live on!  Dreary!

Is there an author whose writing you’re such a fan of, that you’ll read everything they release?

Kate Morton – she is the rare author for whom I will get to the book store on release day and buy a full-priced hardcover.

Do you think digital books will ever completely replace real books?

I think we’ll see it ebb and flow.  It certainly has its uses – our family has been known to pack a suitcase just full of books for a vacation, so e-books are a great help there.  But I think most bookworms love not just the story but the experience – turning the page, caressing the cover, smelling the paper, browsing through used book bins for a treasure.

What book do you feel humanity needs most right now?

I think humanity needs inner peace.  We are so busy busy busy and neglect the real inward quiet time that we need to reflect and to communicate.  Our family is taking some pretty drastic steps to reduce busyness and reintroduce simplicity – we will be moving across the country to a small town soon, giving away much of our stuff, downsizing our living space, and we’re really looking forward to it!

the city of joyWhat is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life?

City of Joy by Dominique LaPierre.  It is non-fiction about the slums of Calcutta, India, and it is a life-changer.  I learned that joy can be found even in poverty, and it severed any desire for materialism that I ever had.  I have a healthy enjoyment of nice things, but an absolutely realization that I can do without them.  I also learned the difference between “want” and “need”.  We need so very little.

Are there any books you haven’t mentioned that you feel would make your reading list?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is my favorite classic.  Sigh – that Mr. Rochester!  And I like a good British tragedy.

What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?

I plan to continue reading a lot of historical fiction and women’s fiction since those are the genres in which I write.  I became friends with a lot of fellow debut authors this year, and I look forward to reading their second efforts.  My own second book Before the Rain Falls will be released in May.

If you were to write an autobiography – what would it be called?

Not Finished Yet.  I hope to “suck the marrow” out of life until my very last breath.

If you’d like to learn more about Camille Di Maio, you can find her on her website, Facebook and Twitter.