Camela Thompson's new urban fantasy, ALL THE PRETTY BONES, features a new kind of heroine. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Olivia Kardos decides to take on the stalker that's terrorized her for a decade. Is revenge really that sweet? I checked in with Camela to find out.
Tell me about ALL THE PRETTY BONES. What inspired you to tell Olivia’s story?
When I was fourteen, a nineteen-year-old man took an unhealthy interest in me. It was surprising because I only knew him from a French class in high school, and it escalated quickly. I was very lucky it ended well. Since then I’ve been sensitive to stalking cases in the news, and I suppose it wasn’t a big stretch for me to wonder what would push a woman to feel that she had to fight back.
ALL THE PRETTY BONES sounds like a hybrid detective mystery/thriller and paranormal. How do you straddle the two genres?
Looking back on it, it wasn’t a conscious decision to blend the two. When I started, I thought I was creating a contemporary thriller. One day I was writing a scene, and suddenly I was looking at a murder with elements that expanded beyond the laws of nature. This new theme sounds dark, but I think my mind went there because I needed hope. Hope is a very important thing to me, and the paranormal element allows for the unexpected to happen. Suddenly a woman with a bleak future has more options. On the flip side, there’s a darkness that comes with the paranormal genre that lends itself very well to mysteries.
What type supernatural elements are in your novel?
I don’t want to uncover spoilers, but vampires and demons exist in this alternate world. From the beginning, there is a sense that things are not adhering to the rules of nature. Eyes have a rich spiritual meaning, and they play a really important part in All the Pretty Bones.
Olivia has a stalker — and he sounds like a career stalker (10 years!). What kind of research did you do to create that character? Did you find out anything that surprised you?
The character was heavily influenced by my own stalker. I also researched the more prevalent cases in the news, and used resources like the National Center for Victims of Crime and the Bureau of Justice Statistics to learn more.
A pleasant surprise was uncovered in an interview with a police officer. Stalking is taken much more seriously by law enforcement compared to fifteen years ago, and some laws have been updated to offer a little more protection. Unfortunately, victims still bear the burden of ensuring their own safety because police involvement is reactive (dependent on a crime being committed).
You gave your main character terminal cancer. That’s really unusual, so I am curious about your choice. Why was it important to give her a terminal illness? How does this inform the character?
This is a very good - but difficult - question. My writing began with a question: what would push a victim to feel that they had no choice but to fight back?
Olivia is isolated from everyone by her stalker, and she has no family. She spends her days hiding. The police did nothing for her because no one could prove Mark was breaking any laws. A terminal illness forces her to choose - does she run, stay locked away, or fight? Olivia is strong and independent, but she repressed her true nature for years. Instead of lashing out, she hyper-focused on work. With her mortality breathing down her neck, she decides she will not spend her final days living by someone else’s terms.
Now that ALL THE PRETTY BONES is released, what’s next for you?
I need to wrap up book two in the series, and plans are on the board for book three. I’m also working on a horror novel. Charlie's Shadow is about a struggling couple who finds a dog under their front porch. When they invite Charlie into the house, they get more than they bargained for. Things begin to go bump in the night, and a dark secret about their house is discovered.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I love sitting down with a hot cup of tea. Because I tend to procrastinate, I make a habit of closing my browser windows unless they are absolutely necessary for research. When the words are flowing, I have a tendency to forget to eat. My husband is wonderful about sticking a plate of food under my nose. It’s a shared writing ritual.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a sectional couch with a chaise, and that is my home base. I have two wonderful dogs. Annie, the little one, curls up next to me and is a bit of a dictator about break time. My old gentleman, Champ, prefers to stretch out next to the chaise. He likes being close but isn’t clingy. Unlike someone else.
What inspires you to write?
It’s so cliché, but I have to say, “Life.” There are some experiences that stay with me longer than others, and writing is a way to deal with the emotions. My books don’t retell my story or reflect my experiences, but thoughts and feelings get channeled into them.
What 5 books are on your bookshelf right now?
I have so many books I need to read – many surfaces in my house are covered with them. The five in my immediate queue are Stardust, Vampire Academy, Zeus is Dead, Outlander, and Etiquette & Espionage.
What do you recommend people see/read/hear?
I have guilty television obsessions, but I’ll admit that I am hooked on Once Upon a Time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (classic!), Firefly (geek classic!), and The Strain. Movies that blur genres intrigue me, especially horror and comedy. Tucker and Dale versus Evil, The Cabin in the Woods, and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon are all highly recommended. Reading lists should include The Shining, I am Legend, Sharp Objects, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone.