Today I’m welcoming Camille Di Maio to my series of author interviews. Camille is the author of The Memory of Us, the story of a young and wealthy Protestant woman in pre-‐war Liverpool who befriends an Irish Catholic seminarian. Torn between her family’s expectations and her growing love for someone she’s not supposed to be with, the story follows Julianne’s journey through war, tragedy, secrets, and redemption.
Elizabeth: Welcome, Camille. Can you tell us more about your novel?
Camille: Thank you for having me. I have always wanted to write a novel, ever since I was twelve years old. The idea to write something about a forbidden love appealed to me. When I was a teenager, we participated in something called the Ulster Project. It brought teens from Belfast, Northern Ireland to Denver for a summer. At the time, tensions were still very high between the denominations over there. Catholics and Protestants did not mingle, date, do business together, etc. So, this became the basis for the idea of a forbidden love. Ratcheting it up with Kyle, a poor immigrant on the path to priesthood and Julianne, a wealthy Protestant socialite, put many obstacles in their path – money, religion, etc.
Elizabeth: What drew you to this topic?
Camille: The topic really came together for me one day as I was driving, and the Beatles song, “Eleanor Rigby” came through on my iPod. Although I’ve heard it many times, I think I had this “forbidden love” theme brewing, and the song hit me in a particular way. Who was the old priest in the song? Who was the lonely woman? Then I thought – what if they had a history together? All the pieces started to fall in to place.
Elizabeth: How much historical fact is woven in to your story?
Camille: Quite a lot. While the plot is entirely fictional, everything surrounding it is not. The cultural tensions. The details of nursing school at the time. The terrible bombings during the Blitz. I meticulously researched fashion, food, history, lingo and such to give it as authentic a feel as I could. Nearly every place mentioned is real.
Elizabeth: What is your writing process?
Camille: While writing The Memory of Us, I drank lots of Dr. Pepper (I’m a good Texan) and stayed up until about 3 or 4 every morning writing a first draft. We have four children and run a business, so this was the only quiet time I had. My husband was a champ. Now that I’ve learned so much more about the craft of writing, I am trying to be disciplined by writing about one thousands words per day. Either the early morning or late night works best for me – when everything else in the house is settled.
Elizabeth: What are you working on now?
Camille: My publisher just bought my second book, Before the Rain Falls, which will be out in the spring of 2017. I’m about halfway finished writing it. It is quite different from the first book. It is partially historical, being set in Texas during the 1940s. And, it is told from three points of view.
Elizabeth: What have you read recently that you feel passionate about?
Camille: I am an unabashed Kate Morton fan, and her most recent book, The Lake House, was full of her signature poetic words and captivating story. This one was her first attempt at a mystery, and I found elements to be quite like another of my favorite authors, Agatha Christie.
Elizabeth: Can you tell us more about yourself?
Camille: I love the phrase “suck the marrow out of life”. I really don’t waste a minute. My bucket list is a zillion miles long, and I’m always in pursuit of something adventurous. My biggest passion is travel. I’ve been to about three-quarters of the states, four continents, and I’m always figuring out a way to plan another trip. But, most importantly, I have been married to my husband, Rob, for nineteen years, we home school our four children, and Rob and I have been real estate investors/counselors for sixteen years. And, my faith is a big component of my life.
We’ve now reached the time in our interview for the let’s-get-to-know-the-author-better, nearly pointless, sort-of-silly, rapid-fire questions:
Elizabeth: Coffee or tea?
Camille: Coffee – but only if it has loads of sugar and flavoring so that it masks the actual taste of the coffee. I like the IDEA of coffee.
Elizabeth: Ocean or mountain?
Camille: Ocean. I grew up in Denver at the foot of the Rockies, but I am SO at home near water.
Elizabeth: Hiking or shopping?
Camille: Shopping. I don’t own one pair of shoes that would be appropriate for a real hike.
Elizabeth: Violin or piano?
Camille: Piano. I studied it for eight years, but I’m quite rusty now.
Elizabeth: Mystery or fantasy?
Elizabeth: Darcy or Heathcliff?
Camille: Both! But, even better, Mr. Rochester. (I’m a huge fan of British literature.)
Elizabeth: Love scene or death scene?
Camille: Death scene. I love a good cry.
To learn more about Camille and her books, visit the sites below:
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LhGrvDii9g