Wednesday 22 March 2017

A Conversation With Camron Wright

Camron Wright is the award-winning author of Letters for Emily, which was a Readers Choice award winner, as well as a selection of the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild. In addition to North America, Letters for Emily was published in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Korea, the Netherlands, and China.

His most recent book, The Rent Collector, won Book of the Year, Fiction, from ForeWord Reviews; Best Novel of the Year from the Whitney Awards; and was a nominee for the prestigious 2014 International DUBLIN Literary Award.

Wright received a B.S. in Business from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in Writing & Public Relations from Westminster College. Camron lives with his wife, Alicyn, in Utah. They are the parents of four children.

The Orphan Keeper tells the story of seven-year-old Chellamuthu's life--and his destiny and how it is forever changed when he is kidnapped from his village in Southern India and sold to the Lincoln Home for Homeless Children. His family is desperate to find him, and Chellamuthu anxiously tells the Indian orphanage that he is not an orphan, he has a mother who loves him. But he is told not to worry, he will soon be adopted by a loving family in America.

Chellamuthu is suddenly surrounded by a foreign land and a foreign language. He can't tell people that he already has a family and becomes consumed by a single, impossible question: How do I get home? But after more than a decade, home becomes a much more complicated idea as the Indian boy eventually sheds his past and receives a new name: Taj Khyber Rowland.

It isn't until Taj meets an Indian family who help him rediscover his roots, as well as marrying Priya, his wife, who helps him unveil the secrets of his past, that he begins to discover the truth he has all but forgotten. Taj is determined to return to India and begin the quest to find his birth family. But is it too late? Is it possible that his birth mother is still looking for him? And which family does he belong to now?

Taj Rowland was born as Chellamuthu in Erode, India. At the age of seven, he was kidnapped, driven to a city three hours away and sold to a Christian orphanage. He was adopted by a family in the western United States where he grew up.

He lives with his wife, Priya, and their two daughters, splitting their time between homes in both India and the U.S.

Tell us of your journey as a writer

My background is in business, not English. I found writing (or did it find me?) as I was approaching 40, passing through a midlife crisis of sorts. (It was strictly career related—no girlfriend or sports car involved.) We had just sold our business, and I was struggling to find a new professional direction for my life. I thought it would be easy to jump into corporate America, but I’m the type of person who needs to wake up and feel like I’m making a difference and I was struggling to find that. My wife happened to be in a couple of book clubs at the time, and I remember picking up her books, reading through them, and then exclaiming, “I could write this stuff!”

Weeks later, as I naively attempted to pen my first novel, I learned it was an agonizing, insufferable, forlorn occupation—and yet equally magical. I couldn’t get enough.

How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it?

It’s a journey of constant learning. One of my favourite quotes is from Hemingway who said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” That’s pretty humbling. That said, I love the creative process—ending the day and feeling good about a particular sentence, paragraph, page, etc.

Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with?

Sure, all the time. If not, I’d be concerned that my characters were flat and stereotypical. It’s often the flaws that make characters flavourful.

What has been your experience of writing about diverse characters?

It’s often a struggle to get into a character’s head, being that we all come from such different places. That said, it can also be an adventure. It almost always broadens my appreciation for others and their circumstances.

If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why?

I visited Ireland a few months ago for the first time and was enchanted—the scenery, the people, the accent. One night, while having dinner in a traditional Irish pub, the server wandered over and with her adorable accent asked, “May I get you a wee bit more water?” Had she asked for my wallet and firstborn child, I would gladly have handed both over.

What is the one book you wish you had written?

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Actually anything by Anthony Doerr.)

What advice do you have for would be novelists/writers?

I’ve given this advice before, but it’s worth repeating. While it may sound a bit blunt, it’s often spot on. Spend more time writing your story and less time on social media talking about writing your story. (It turns out many are in love with the idea of being a writer, but they won’t put in the work to get there.)

What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading?

There are always a handful of stories swimming around in my head. That said, I’m one who gets very involved in the marketing side of a project. As such, it’s likely I won’t get too serious for another few months until The Orphan Keeper is well on its way.

Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why?

Perhaps Wilbur the pig from Charlotte's Web because at one time or another, we all feel like the runt of the litter and just need a friend.
Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the review copy

Follow Camron on Twitter: @AuthorCamronW

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