(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)
It’s always such a joy to be able to feature some of my favorite authors! One of those? Elizabeth Camden. Not only because she covers such interesting parts of history, but I love the women she creates, women who are strong and inspiring. And what better way to kick off the week than with a 4 Questions and giveaway right?
Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.
1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Easy! I would never have dreamed that I’d be writing and publishing novels. It was one of those pie-in-the-sky dreams I worked hard for, but never really expected it would happen. And when it did? It was more thrilling, more challenging, and more heartbreaking than I ever imagined. It’s one thing to write novels in the privacy of your home, quite another to hand it over to others who will slice and dice the text, pick out a cover for it, and send it out into the world where it will be subject to the slings and arrows of public opinion. For the most part folks have been very kind to my books, but I sweat bullets over each one. I never thought about the realities that happen on the other side of getting that first book contract.
2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I wish I’d been more of a risk-taker when I was younger. I was always very cautious and worked hard, trying to save money for a rainy day, buckle down to get an education, become gainfully employed, etc.
But I’ve always had a couple of wild, unfulfilled dreams. I wanted to move to Alaska for a year and work in a fish cannery. When I was in college I met a girl who did the Alaska-thing, and I immediately glommed onto it as a wild, wonderful adventure I wanted to try, but I was too timid to pursue it. I wish I had. I know the work would be hard, smelly, and uncomfortable, but I wish I had such a year in my memory bank. Now that I’m older I realize that my early twenties was the perfect time to do such a thing. It’s too late now. I’ve got elderly parents who I’m a caregiver for, and a husband who has zero interest in moving to Alaska. When I was in my twenties I was so worried about money and building my own safety net that I didn’t realize it was the perfect time to do something wild and adventurous.
3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Oh my….there isn’t any one thing I can point to. The days I am happiest are not linked to grand events. They come in the quiet moments, or at the end of a long day when I’m tired in both body and mind, but have the satisfaction of a job well done. Those are my happiest times.
4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I worry that we are robbing our kids by trying to keep them constantly amused and stimulated. Television, video games, amusement parks. Now we can stream movies to kids riding in a car. Kids who are bombarded with this sort of entertainment don’t know what to do when the power fails. They grow into adolescents who expect to be entertained, but lack the ability or emotional heft to venture forth and become productive.
There is a certain magic to going out in your own backyard to search for fossils among the rocks in the garden, or riding a bike on a hot summer’s day. Perhaps even more importantly, there is terrific value in learning to do something hard. Kids who train for a sport, build model airplanes, or join the scouts learn great skills. When my husband was in boy scouts he learned to build a fire, catch, skin and cook a fish. This leads to a sense of accomplishment that no video game can ever provide. So I hope the next generation can move away from short attention spans and learn to enjoy things that are hard. Those are the things we are proudest of.
Then again, my husband says my Indian spirit name is “Dream Killer,” and I never learned how to have fun. Maybe that’s true, but I’ve also learned to derive immense satisfaction from sinking my teeth into a big, hard project, and I learned that skill when I was only a kid. I hope the next generation can put down their cell phones and learn to enjoy doing something hard.
Thank you so so much Elizabeth! I love your books, so it’s a pleasure featuring you on the blog!