ME2 – Interview with Jourdan Cameron

ME2 CoverJourdan - PhotoI’m delighted to welcome writer Jourdan Cameron, author of the recently released, intriguing, YA science fiction novel ME2

First a little background on our author:

Jourdan Cameron lives with his family in Connecticut where he writes poetry, takes an uncanny amount of photographs and produces the occasional book. His various hobbies include aquariums, video game criticism, photography, reading, and of course writing.

Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today Jourdan!

What would you like your readers to know that they might not read in your official bio?

I learn from everything. Everything. I try not to underestimate the value of the boring, mundane and everyday experiences, because it is from them that I find much of the inspiration for my work. Also, I was once the president of a local writing club. They called me “Epic President Guy”. That’s quite possibly the greatest compliment a person can receive.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m a writer?

In all seriousness, I suppose it happened a little while after I enrolled in an online high school. I grew up homeschooled- for the most part, I was able to teach things to myself. My parents eventually enrolled me in an online school when the time came- I had teachers grading my work, and when my essays brought back high grades and good remarks from said teachers, I realized that I had a talent for writing. I felt motivated and empowered by their praise, and I recognized my own talent. I started work on a book which, to this day, sits on my hard drive- it’s a good thing that’s badly in need of editing.

Tell us a bit about what ME2 is about?

Absolutely! Me Squared is the story of Hildan Hegennerry. He’s an ordinary kid- he has a good family, best friend, decent life- oh, and he has a clone. That’s not ordinary, is it?

What inspired this story?

A lot of things, really. I got the idea when I was laying awake in bed one night, thinking. I’m not sure how I got around to thinking about “Blood Brothers”- was I thinking about the phrase and wondered what it could mean, eventually coming up with the story of a guy who meets his clone and regards him as a “Blood Brother”? Was it the other way around- was I looking for a title to the story of a man meeting his clone? I don’t remember, but I do remember letting the idea bounce around in my head for a good few years before November of 2012 rolled around.

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. For the event, I decided that I’d write my book and have it ready to publish by the end of the month. I got to work thinking about it… And thinking…

November ended, and I didn’t have a book. I just had an idea. I realized that I’d have to get writing if I wanted to go anywhere. So I did. Eleven months later, my book was published.

For a YA novel ME2 addresses some very controversial issues regarding what is ethical, moral, good for human condition. Do you think some will think too complex for your target audience?

Frankly, I think folks have a bad tendency to underestimate kids. Admittedly, human cloning is a very big topic- I can’t say whether or not it’s right or wrong, and my book won’t tell you what to believe. What I think my book will do, however, is spark conversations, and get young people to think seriously about the issues. Ultimately, I want them to come to their own conclusions about cloning.

I took care to make sure that the subject matter could be understood by my target audience- I tried my best to keep things accessible without dumbing them down. I definitely think that kids will come away with not only a better understanding of the issues surrounding human cloning, but will also be better able to think about new technology and ideas from a critical viewpoint.

Do you believe clones such as the one Hildan discovers he has will be commonplace in the near future?

Commonplace? I don’t think so. Will we be seeing human clones in the near future? Looking at the blistering pace of medical science, it would not surprise me.

What is the first thing you know for sure about a new story concept? Plot? Character? Something else?

What’s the first thing for sure I know about a story concept? I think it’s easier to say what I don’t know for sure. When I get a story idea, I haven’t a clue what the plot will be, who the characters are (unless they were pivotal to the initial idea) or what my execution will be.

When I had the idea for Me Squared, for instance, I wasn’t thinking about making Hildan quite so young- I initially envisioned a buff guy in his mid thirties who discovers his replica floating in a tank of liquid, breaks him out and escapes the evil laboratory of genetic trickery. I wasn’t imagining a kid who goes on an adventure and realizes that his is more like a brother than anything else.

It’s hard to pin down the first thing I knew simply would be for Me Squared, because my mind seemed to assemble everything all at once, but it was probably the rising action and climax.

When creating characters what are the strongest influences for you?

As I’ve said before, I learn from everything. That includes everybody. When I make my characters, I have a tendency to sculpt them according to their role in the story- at least initially. Once I’ve started writing, however, it’s fun to create conflicts that go up against the beliefs and personalities of my characters.

One of my strongest influences in general is Hayao Miyazaki- I became a fan of his work a few years ago, and I can’t help but marvel at the way he writes characters- his “villains” are very rarely such. Nobody in his stories is evil simply for evil’s sake- he does a fantastic job at recognizing moral shades of gray. Though his protagonists have the tendency to be a bit simple in their motivations, they typically face their trials in an interesting (and stunningly realistic) way. This is because Miyazaki has learned from people. He watches them, takes note of their behaviors and reactions, and incorporates this into his stories. This is something that I think any sort of storyteller should strive to do.

Do you develop a deep backstory for all your characters before sitting down to write or do you have a general idea of who they are?

I tend to come up with backstories for my characters after I’ve written them. When I start them, I have a general idea of who they are, how they’ll act, etc., but the backstory seems to build itself as I’m writing. Sometimes, I’ll tie something that, to me, was meaningless when I wrote it, to something interesting down the line.

Can we have an excerpt?

“You’re here,” said the man as he turned around and left.

“Thank you for your help, Mr. Anderson,” said my father. The man continued walking down the hall. I think I heard a faint “You’re welcome,” though I’m not really sure if that’s what it was.

My mom opened the door. There was another waiting room just like the one downstairs- it was almost creepy. There was a man dressed like a doctor sitting in one of the chairs. His hair was light gray, curly, and kind of messy; a bit of it fell over his little square glasses. He smiled as we entered the room. It was a fake, cheesy smile, but at least it was something. He stood up and introduced himself as Victor Stoat.

“Are you ready to meet George, Hildan?” So that’s what they named him- I was sort of expecting a number like “Prototype Unit Zero,” or “Test Unit One,” not George.

“I’m ready. Where is he?”

“Right behind this door is his room.” He pointed to a door at the other side of the room- this one had no window. “If you’ll just come with me, I’ll introduce you.”

He opened the door. I was expecting a dim room full of scientists milling about, and at the center of the room, I thought George would be floating in a tank full of some kind of bubbling liquid. Instead, I saw a kid who looked a lot like me sitting in a corner, reading some book with a blue cover. The room seemed pretty clean, and the floors were made out of wood (or something that looked like it). There was a simple wooden coffee table in the center of the room with a few copies of National Geographic sitting on top of it.

“George, please come meet Hildan, he came out here to see you.”

George stood up and left the book on the chair, walked over to me and shook my hand.

It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said. “How do you do?”

“I’m fine, and you?” This kid seemed kind of… Weird. He looked a lot like me, sounded like me, but he almost seemed… programmed. I was pretty sure that my parents didn’t build a machine- then again, I was shaking hands with my clone, nothing my parents could’ve done should’ve surprised me.

Is there a secondary character in ME2 you feel deserves their own story?

Funny you should ask- I have actually written a short story for one of my strange side characters, Josephine. If you’re interested in reading it, you can get it for free from my website.

There’s another character in Me Squared who’s getting an entire book, but I’m not going to say who it is.

What’s the funniest thing anyone has ever said to you about your writing?

The funniest thing wasn’t directly about my writing, but about my book, and a few people have said it: Is this non-fiction?

Admittedly, I think my manner has a bit to do with it- I have the tendency to come across as strict, serious and formal (even though I’m not really). Considering the rate of modern science, I’m not surprised that people confuse my book for non-fiction.

Is there any genre you won’t read? Write? Can you tell me why?

Erotica. It’s not my cup of tea.

What are you most proud of about your writing?

I’m writing. I’m proud just to be doing that; I’ve found something that I love, and I’m not stopping anytime soon.

Specifically, though, I think my grasp of language sets me apart. Being able to pull it apart and play with it lets me write things that are easy to understand and memorable. I can take a complex concept and make it comprehensible. I love that.

How do you respond to negative reviews?

For reviews in general, I find that it’s just best to thank the reviewer and move on. I’m fine with negative reviews so long as they’re objective and point to what’s wrong with my work.

I review video games, and I try to state simply what I feel was good about the game (consistent visual style, well-written story, fitting soundtrack, etc.), and what I felt could’ve been better. It’s the same with books.

While I feel that it’s important for a reviewer to be strongly opinionated, objectivity is crucial- if there’s something that I personally dislike about a game, if it’s not technically a flaw I prefer to write about it in a separate editorial piece rather than in my review. I feel that any sort of reviewer- book, game, etc.- ought focus on objectivity. Of course, that opens up a whole can of worms on how subjective the idea of a “flaw” in a piece of art is- that’s another big subject in itself.

How much time do you spend promoting your books?

Quite a bit- since I’m a new author, I’ve been busy not only promoting my books, but reading about promoting them as well. So, I spend a few hours promoting each day. I find that folks respond best to real life promotion better than they do online.

“Hey, you wrote a book? Cool, where can I buy it!” I get that all the time. I’ve printed out a bunch of postcards that have a little excerpt from my book on the back, and I carry these with me. They’ve been fantastically useful.

Do you belong to a critique group or have a critique partner?

I am a member of a few writing groups on Facebook- they’re very helpful for getting feedback! I also learn from the works of others posting there.

Do you have a particular daily writing schedule or process you stick to?

I don’t have a daily writing schedule- I tend to write at night, though. There’s no real process for me- I simply begin to write.

What does your writing space look like?

There’s my computer, a few books, the external hard drive I’m booting off of, and a lamp. Oh, and there’s a window behind my computer monitor; I get the most fantastic view of the sunset.

If you could sit down to dinner with any fictional character who would it be?

How could you ask so cruel a question? If I had to narrow it down to one, however, it’d probably be Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’d have so much to ask him.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write?

The music I listen to depends a lot on what I’m writing; in general, I listen to film and video game soundtracks- stuff by Hisaishi and Uematsu. When I’m writing grandiose, dramatic things, I tend to opt for the likes of Tchaikovsky and Dvorak, whereas light, cheerful things are best accompanied by Daft Punk.

What sound or noise do you love?

The sound of a keyboard as it’s being used.

What sound or noise do you hate?

My own chewing. Don’t ask.

Go to snack when writing?

Snack? I don’t have snacks when I’m writing. I have an IV. In all seriousness though, anything that won’t make a mess of my keyboard; trail mix is pretty fantastic in this regard.

Favorite curse word?

I don’t use them.

If you were able to give only two tips to an aspiring writer what would they be?

Don’t stop writing. This sounds simplistic to the point of stupid, but it’s the best advice I can give. If you stop writing, you run the risk of losing your momentum- when you return to your work, you’ll find yourself confused at to what your intentions were. Don’t stop writing.

Also, know yourself as a writer. Figure out how you function best- don’t be afraid to take advice from other writers- get as much as you can- but realize what works for you and what doesn’t.

What’s coming up next for you?

I have books coming.

Besides my upcoming book about one of the side characters of Me Squared, I also have a wonderful fantasy coming. I can’t say much about it, but it’s very… Different. I can’t find anything to really compare it to. I’m not sure when it’ll be ready, but once it is, it’ll be something special. That’s why I’m not giving an ETA on it.

To keep up with Jourdan, go to:

http://mesquaredbook.com

To purchase your own copy of ME2 go to:

http://www.amazon.com/ME2-Jourdan-Cameron-ebook/dp/B00H1W28T6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394383810&sr=8-1&keywords=ME2+by+Jourdan+Cameron

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