Elizabeth Camden is a college librarian by day, and a writer by night. Her first historical romance, The Lady of Bolton Hill, will be released on June 1 by Bethany House.
Elizabeth lives in central Florida with her husband, Bill.
Have you ever fallen in love with an art form so badly that you wanted to go beyond simply enjoying it, and start producing it? I think this is how most artists, musicians, and writers get lured into their craft, and it was the same for me. Reading has always been such a significant part of my life that I got to the point I wanted to try producing the kind of novels that had such a major impact on my life.
You are a “night writer.” Like many authors who also work outside the home, you write during the evening and on the weekend. Do you have a special routine for refocusing from work and family time to writing time? What is your favorite writing space?
I am a librarian at a college library and spend around two hours each day commuting. This is actually when I do my best work. I tune into some wonderful, evocative music and ponder a plot twist or character trait, so when I finally get home, the writing part comes easily because I know where it is going.
I don’t think I could ever quit my day job. Not only do I love being a librarian, but it provides me with the fuel I need to be creative. Some days I help students research the arcane details of a renaissance court case or the symbolism in a Matisse painting. Other days I am dissecting the migration patterns of sea birds or how cheese is made. All of this helps trigger ideas that I can pump into my writing.
How does your faith play into your writing?
Well, I am one of those terribly introverted people who have a hard time opening up to others. Writing is my cure for that. I have found that writing is one way I can share my faith with others without the mortifying fear that comes along with public speaking or talking about my feelings. Writing is a very reflective process, and I have the time to delve into faith issues and express them in the way which is most comfortable for me.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Not in a dramatic way, but my life has not turned out the way I always thought it would. As I was growing up, I assumed I would be a housewife and a mother. I come from a pretty traditional family and those were the role models I saw, so I wanted to follow the same path. Life doesn’t always work out the way we plan it. I simply never met the right man until the opportunity to become a mother had passed me by.
So I found a career I love and set about building life as a single woman. I met my husband when I was in my mid-thirties. Bill came with two young daughters who I helped raise. Those girls are the closest thing I’ll ever have to children, but I am not their mother….rather, I am more of a big sister. I can’t really go into details, but suffice to say, those girls were in need of some positive female role models. Filling that role has been one of the most positive things in my life. I think I did good work there.
The Lady of Bolton Hill is set in gilded age America. Daniel and Clara were quite young when they met and shared an intense, immediate bond because of their mutual love of Chopin. Music certainly can have that sort of pull for teenagers, can’t it! They were separated by Clara’s disapproving father, and the novel begins when Clara returns to the United States after more than a decade abroad. The chemistry between Clara and Daniel immediately blazes back to life, but they have followed such wildly divergent paths that they don’t know if they can find a way back to each other, even though they both crave it.
I adore a good turbulent story with love, betrayal, heartbreak, all punctuated with periods of soaring joy and utter delight. That is what I aimed for with The Lady of Bolton Hill. I’ll be curious to hear from folks if they think I got it in the ballpark.
Besides entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from it?
A big theme in the book is the distinction between justice and vengeance. I think most of us have had to wrestle with justifiable anger at some point in our lives. Perhaps it stemmed from career disappointments, a divorce, being victimized by crime, or any of the thousands of misfortunes that come from leading a fully engaged life. The world is not always fair, and a mark of character is how we cope with these tragedies. I hope The Lady of Bolton Hill helps shed some light on the nuances involved in justice, forgiveness, and healing.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Ramen noodles! For me, ramen noodles are the ultimate comfort food…a cross between chicken soup and pure, salty indulgence. I am a health nut 99% of the time, but every couple of days my Ramen Noodle monster needs to be fed. My favorite meal of the week!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Other than a single, disastrous year in the high school marching band, I have no musical experience. I am one of those people who struggle with memorizing music, and flute players can’t use one of those clip-on marching lyres, so they must memorize the music. I couldn’t. It was awful!
But I have a profound respect for the power of music and how it can draw people together. When I was in college, I found myself paired with a roommate who was my complete opposite. She was a city-girl with a Brooklyn accent so thick it was hard to understand her. I was tidy, she was messy. I was quiet, she had a laugh loud enough to be heard in the next county. We had absolutely nothing in common except we both adored an extremely obscure folk band from Ireland (The Pogues, in case anyone is interested). In an instant, all the differences were swept aside and we immediately bonded over a mutual love of a band no one on this side of the Atlantic had heard of.
I drew upon that unlikely friendship to form the initial flare of attraction between Daniel and Clara in The Lady of Bolton Hill. They have wildly divergent temperaments and upbringing, but they both adore the deeply romantic music of Frederic Chopin, and that bond serves as a foundation upon which a magnificent romance ultimately blossoms.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
A tragic one, because they are more interesting! Actually, my life has been quite blessed, so I have no cause for complaints, but who doesn’t love a good mournful tune.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Come on, I’m the librarian! Hair in a bun, pointy-glasses I wear on a chain around my neck, the whole nine yards. It is the role I was born to play, and I have no qualms about succumbing to the stereotype.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Pets? I’m scared of them! I had a hermit crab as a child, and I was scared of it, too. Although I wish I was a dog person. When I go jogging in the park I see people playing with dogs that are bursting with joy and good-natured energy. I love that! I wish I was the type who wanted to toss a frisbee to some gorgeous golden retriever and roll around on the grass with him…but as soon as a dog comes bounding my way, some ancient defense mechanism goes on high alert. I think dogs can sense that, and they don’t seem any more comfortable with me than I am with them.
Thank you, Elizabeth! It’s great to have you as a guest at DivineDetour!
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