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Featured Author: Dawn McCullough-White December 11, 2010

Posted by Jaidis in Featured Authors.
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It’s that time again…time to feature another amazing author! Since the last couple of authors that I have featured have been male…I decided to change it up and shine the spotlight on an awesome lady…Dawn McCullough-White!! Dawn dropped by for an interview and to tell us about the books in her Cameo series!

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Without giving to much away, can you tell us what the books in the Cameo series are about?

Cameo the Assassin

The Kingdom of Sieunes is rife with taverns, dirty streets, and clay pipe smoking citizens all toiling to feed their families and keep themselves in something little better than rags. With a foiled revolution just ten years prior still burning in the hearts of many, the royals enlist the aid of assassins to keep things in order.

The townsfolk entertain themselves by dreaming of better times to come and regaling in stories of the undead said to walk the graveyards at night… and of Cameo the killer with corpse-like eyes… Scarred and jaded Cameo is one of the most effective assassins in the employ of the Association, moving from one mission to the next as long as the alcohol keeps flowing.

Her acceptance of the murder-for-hire lifestyle is thrown into doubt when she meets a local highwayman with a penchant for fine clothes and women, and then she begins to think about breaking with the company but no one ever breaks with the Association under good terms.

Cameo and the Highwayman

Cameo, the hard drinking assassin with corpse-like eyes, Black Opal the silver-tongued highwayman infamous for his prowess with a rapier, and Kyrian the innocent young acolyte journey to Shandow with a mission from Cameo’s vampire master. Along the way Cameo is ambushed by the other vampire, who it seems, has been waiting for her. Black Opal is plunged into danger as his past is revealed, and he is forced to face his demons head-on. An old nemesis returns, and Cameo must make a choice that will cost her the last shred of humanity she has left.

How long did it take you to write Cameo the Assassin and Cameo and the Highwayman?

It takes me about two years to write a book.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was fourteen when I realized it.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Hmm, I don’t know if this is something that is atypical but once I’m working on a project I’m basically inhabiting that place. I have to put my entire being into it or it just doesn’t “go” for me.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Well, I’m a stay at home mom of a 3yr old, so I spend a lot of time playing with and caring for a small child. So, that’s a lot of dancing around in the living room to music on YouTube, reading, playing sports and acting out the part of Scooby Doo for a kid who’s currently in love with that show (he likes to be Shaggy). Once he’s in bed I spend time marketing my book/s or playing Sims 3.

What does your family think of your writing?

My husband is supportive. He’s my beta reader, and the person who helps me with the finer points of marketing such as the measurements for uploading the back-cover art and that sort of thing. He’s a great help.

How many books have you written so far?

In my life? About thirteen I think. Cameo the Assassin and Cameo and the Highwayman are the only two that are published.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

I didn’t. I’m sure I said “yay!” or something like that. I try to stay on task and not ride the rollercoaster of really high highs or low lows of anything related to the books.

Which book was the most enjoyable for you to write? What about the least enjoyable?

They were both really fun to write. Admittedly I was writing Cameo and the Highwayman in my head (and I had extensive notes) while I was in the middle of Cameo the Assassin.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?

Get an editor and self-publish. Waiting around for a traditional publisher these days is a waste of time, and it’s so nice to just publish and take control of the situation.

Do you hear from your readers much?

Only though the reviews I’ve had. I blame it on my lack of an obvious email address.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think it’s important to have good timing, well fleshed out characters and an interesting premise. When I’m the reader I love a writer who can write prose like Hemingway.

What genre do you find the most difficult to write in and why?

My whole life I’ve only written historical, dark fantasy/horror type stuff. I did try to write something in a memoir style (first person) recently, and I thought it would be so easy for me, turns out it’s not. One has to be much more open (or seemingly so) when writing in first person then third, and it made me feel too vulnerable.

Outlines? Are they needed or just a waste of time?

I do make sketchy outlines that are constantly in flux. Some elements may stay the same, generally I have several scenes in my head (that make it to notes) and then I string them together, but the order in which they occur may change. I’m currently working on the third book in the Cameo series, Cameo and the Vampire, and I have a set of scenes I’m about to write but I’ve written them several different ways in my head and I have to sort through them to decide which one is going to work best. Needless to say, at the moment, I’m slogging through my writing. But I could never ever write an outline that is set in stone, it would already feel written to me and I wouldn’t work on it.

If you had it to do all over again, is there anything that you would change in any of your books?

No, nothing. They’re perfect. ::smile::

Is there anything that you find challenging in your writing?

Yes, keeping track of and tying up all the plot points can be a challenge. Writing action sequences. Making certain characters don’t become caricatures of themselves. I’d have to say, right now, what I’m going through (where I’ve gone and come up with several versions of possible scenes) is one of the worst things I’ve ever done to myself as far as challenges go. But it’s all part of the process, and it works out in the end (my beta reader, or editor generally catch it).

Do you ever experience writer’s block and if so, how to you overcome it?

Yes. I try not to stress about it. I download new music (music helps me to think up new scenes). I generally run the last scene through my head over and over and try to write it. Usually if I have writer’s block it means the book isn’t going in a direction it should be going and then I just have to go in and figure out what concept or chapter needs to be ripped out and then it starts flowing again.

What is the last book you read?

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

If you could take any book and rewrite it, putting your own twist on it, which book would it be and why?

Hmm… I guess maybe, Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer? Why? Oh, I hated how abusive Edward was in that book, and I disliked their honeymoon scenes, and the way (spoiler) Bella becomes a vampire could’ve been more romantic/sexual/violent… I didn’t really like the operating room birth/becoming a vampire scene all that much. If I rewrote it we wouldn’t have seen quite so much of Jacob, who was, after all the one she didn’t choose, and there wouldn’t be a baby… at least not such a perfect one. But, that’s not my book, and I generally don’t even think along the lines of rewriting someone else’s work.

Is there anything you need in order to write? (ie music, silence, chocolate)

Music. I crave new music all the time in order to create new scenes, and new characters. I have character folders on my iPod as a matter of fact. Other than that, it has to be evening or night and I have to be left alone.

Night owl or Early bird?

Night owl. If I didn’t have a child I’d be waking up at noon on a regular basis, as it is I go to bed at 1am regularly… only now I’m not getting as much sleep as I used to.

If you could have dinner with 1 person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

It would be Jules.

If you could travel into the past or future, where would you go and why?

The past. I’d go to correct a mistake I made a few years ago.

What does the word success mean to you?

It means being at peace with my life.

If you had to compare yourself to an animal, which one would it be and why?

A bear. Oh, because they go about their lives happy, minding their own business until they lose their temper and then they’re just scary to be around.

If you were written about on the front page of the newspaper, what would the headline be?

Dawn McCullough-White to wed James Franco.

If you had to have one word or phrase written on your forehead for an entire week, what would it be?

Foppish Awesomesauce

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I’d like to Thank Dawn for stopping by and giving us a peek into her world!

Be sure to stop by Dawn’s site to learn more about these awesome books!

I had the pleasure of reading both of these books, so be sure to check back in the next couple of days to read my reviews!

Get your copy of Cameo and the Assassin in Paperback or for Kindle!!!

Ready for book 2? Get your copy of Cameo and the Highwayman for Kindle!!!

Happy Reading,

~Jaidis

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