Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Robert Campbell, and I’m old enough to retire, but not quite ready to do so.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Toronto, Ontario, but now live on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have a PhD in sociology and currently teach courses in change management, leadership, and organizational behaviour in the MBA program in community economic development at Cape Breton University. But that’s my day job.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I guess my biggest news lately is that my novella, 18 Cranes, is now available. It is the first of a nine-part series entitled, Kaifeng Chronicles.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been trying to write for as long as I can remember, at first because I had a romantic vision of the writer’s life, and later, as an academic, because it was critical to survival. Now, I’ve returned to my earlier do it for its own sake motivation.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I got my first piece published.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Leaving aside the books and articles I’ve produced as an academic, I was inspired to complete my first work of fiction through interactions with my Chinese students over the last decade, and from the trips to China I’ve made over the past few years.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title came from observing a cluster of 18 construction cranes off in the distance as my colleagues and I were driving between the cities of Zhengzhou and Kaifeng in central China. I had no idea at the time what the content of the book would be. I just knew that 18 Cranes would be the title.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m not sure what my writing style is, but I’m anxious to learn what my readers have to say about that. The biggest challenge for me is balancing fact and fiction. I’m always afraid that my writing will be more history than historical fiction.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Much of the book is based on the historical record, but the details getfiltered through my own interpretive lens.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t think that travel was essential, but it sure helped me to get started.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My good friend and former student Danielle Mugridge. I posted a comment on Facebook when I finished writing the book that now I needed to get a cover. She wanted to do it, and I’m very pleased with the result. I’ve asked her to design the covers for the remaining books in the series.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Tough question. All I can say for certain is that everything I write deals in some way with the nature and role of education.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
The book that has impressed me the most in the last couple of decades is My Name is Red, by OrhanPamuk, primarily because of the multiple narrators, animate and inanimate. I also loved How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read, by Pierre Bayard.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, when I finally retire from my day job.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably, but it’s best not to think about that. What’s important is the next book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
The novella is the ideal form for me.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’m not that familiar with many Chinese actors. I just wouldn’t want any of the parts to be played by non-Chinese.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you. Without readers, there are no writers.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Most of what I’m reading now is research material for the remaining books in the series. Chinese history, culture, and art.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but I do remember the first book I obsessed about, and it was If I Ran the Circus, byDr. Seuss.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
My maternal great grandmother, because it’s been difficult to gather information on that branch of my family tree.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Writing historical fiction is my main hobby at the moment, but I also love to cook.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’ve been very disappointed with the crop of movies and TV shows over the last several years. West Wing, Newsroom, and Studio 60 stand out as the best.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I have eclectic tastes in food and music. Sushi. Xiaolong baozi. Bach. Na Ying.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
No such future exists.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Eating. Laughing. Looking at the trees.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
He was first and foremost a teacher.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon author profile: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-A-Campbell/e/B004G3EYPE/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0