Dawn McCullough-White is the author of Cameo and the Vampire, the third and final installment in the Trilogy of Shadow series, about a zombie assassin who becomes our anti-hero. I loved the Cameo books so much, I asked the author to stop by The Bawdy Book Blog a second time for a guest post! Don’t forget to check out my latest review in the trilogy, Cameo and the Vampire!
So I asked Dawn, “How did you come to write about Cameo and her story?”
There are so many points in my life when I wrote about this same character that it’s an almost impossible question to answer. It would be easier to tell you about the times when I wasn’t working on a story about her.
Cameo’s original creation took place back in 1986. She was a secondary character who ended up making it into every story and drawing I did back then. I was sixteen. By the time I was eighteen Black Opal, Kyrian, and Wick had joined up, and I wrote Cameo’s first novel when I was about twenty. I wrote a sequel shortly thereafter and did a completely new version of the first novel again when I was twenty-six. When I was twenty-nine I stopped writing entirely. I was unhappy in my life so I set it aside for… years.
It took until 2006 for me to start thinking about Cameo again. Well, that’s not entirely true. She nagged at me all the time. Like most writers the characters talk to you, scenes pop up while you’re driving, or vacuuming or listening to some new song. You know, the songs that put fully fleshed out conversations in your head? Well, that went on for years, until I gave in to it. I was thirty-six at the time and had just gotten married, took time off from college and was waiting on an adoption. In other words I had a stable life and some time on my hands. I decided to try my hand at writing the Cameo story and this time I was determined to publish it using a vanity press, traditional publishers didn’t interest me. I wanted total control of my path.
I was extremely lucky. One of my sister-in-law’s is a professional editor and out of the blue one day offered to edit my book, (little did she know she’d be stuck editing the two sequels). One of my friends offered to do my covers for free. It was almost as if this was supposed to happen. All of a sudden things just came together for me, but that wasn’t the end of it. I had “Cameo the Assassin” published with vanity publisher iUniverse in 2009. This was a mistake but not a total one. Of course I had no idea what to do after it was published. A few friends bought it. I had no clue how to market. Then in May of 2010 I awoke with this idea that I should upload it to Kindle. I have no clue why I thought that… But, it was the best thing I could’ve ever done. As for iUniverse not being a complete mistake, well, I inadvertently landed my agent through them. Something else that just fell into my lap. I also ran into a lot of people who would end up being some of the first really successful Indie authors out there. Yes, I knew Amanda Hocking way back when… Best selling fantasy author David Dalglish convinced me to change the name of my trilogy from “The Cameo Series” to “Trilogy of Shadows”. A definite improvement.
“Cameo the Assassin”, is a third version… I won’t say a rewrite, (because although some elements are the same, many are different) of Cameo’s original novel. Interestingly though, although this version tells the tale differently I did end up with many things in the book leading me right back down the path to solutions that happened in the original telling, which was beyond weird. In the original version she’s a cold blooded killer, in the version I decided on at age thirty-six I wanted her to be older, tired and a hard-bitten character. Someone dark and mysterious. Then I started to lean toward her being an undead, why? I really have no idea why I went that way. At the time I remember thinking, “a zombie! No one has ever done this before!” Of course I think you see that a lot more nowadays. It was unique to me at the time, and that’s why I did it.
Black Opal started out in the original as Cameo’s boss, and then later as a fop who was pursuing Cameo. In 2006 Black Opal went through facial reconstruction. I had just seen “The Libertine”, a movie where Johnny Depp plays the second Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot and at the end (spoilers ahead) he is very ill and sports a metal nose (because his has deteriorated) and has a blind eye. I loved how he looked at the end, and that inspired a revamped version of Black Opal.
The actual world of Faetta is a gritty place, but there are pure-hearted individuals that can be found, and some genuinely nice people too who don’t want to kill you and take all your stuff. This is a world that grew organically out of my own life experiences. I spent a lot of time in the cemetery down the road as a kid. A lot of time listening to ghost stories and old family tales. I grew up kind of poor too, and that is definitely reflected in Cameo’s story. I am far more interested in the lives of regular people- their problems, their habits and thoughts than I am of the wealthy. I really like to create odd characters and throw them in together with other odd characters. Sure, the entire book can’t be filled with them, but I try. I think it’s more interesting, and anyhow that’s how I look at life, so you’re getting my version of the world.
Thanks for stopping by, Dawn! To all my blog readers, if you haven’t, make sure you check out the Trilogy of Shadows series by Dawn McCullough-White!
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