Author Interview & Short Review: Quincy Moves to the Desert, by Camille Matthews

You have to see this book to believe how absolutely gorgeous it is. I received a free copy of it in order to provide a review, which is forthcoming, but if I’d known how gorgeous the drawings and paintings inside were, I would have picked it up myself. The illustrations are in full color and are stunning. Every page is colorful and gorgeous.

 

This book is a hard cover, and it looks and feels expensive and rich, and it will make a fantastic gift to any reader who loves horses–regardless of age–but for children who love bright pictures and drawings all the way to children old enough to read themselves, this book is simply a beautiful choice.
Now, let’s focus on the author:

Author’s Mini Bio: Camille Matthews

 

Probably the most important thing for anyone to know about me is how much I love animals and how much my daily existence revolves around the animals in my life. For me, the routine of caring for my horses on a regular basis is a source of stability and a way to tap into spiritual energy. When the human genome was mapped some years back and there was a focus on genes as determinants of behavior, it occurred to me that the human connection with animals is probably related to a gene.
The other thing that everyone who knows me well would probably tell you is that I am a person with many interests, am usually feeling passionate about something and am never bored with life. My current passion is developing an eating regimen for my family, human and animal that is based only on organic items.

Author Interview with Camille Matthews

It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a ‘real’ job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life?
Camille Matthews: For many years I was a clinical social worker in private practice providing psychotherapy and counseling. About 10 years ago I discovered the new treatment techniques of equine assisted psychotherapy. I became certified and added that modality to the office-based treatments I provided. I continue to provide equine assisted growth and learning groups but I have retired from full time office practice.
What compelled you to write your first book?

Camille Matthews: The real Quincy is my horse. Not too long after I purchased him and moved from New York to Northwestern New Mexico, he became ill with a neurological problem. He ultimately recovered but for several years he could not be ridden. While I was rehabilitating him, I thought a lot about his various experiences since he had come to live with me and decided they were adventures that would be the basis for a series of children’s books. I was probably compelled by a desire to celebrate his recovery.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Camille Matthews: Yes. I wanted to be a writer and/or journalist when I was a teenager. However, when I went to college, I did not do well in my first English course. I became interested in psychology and took another direction for graduate training. I have always enjoyed professional writing. I have a variety of projects and ideas now that I am writing regularly so I plan to keep going.

What compels you to be a writer?

Camille Matthews: I experience two things that compel me to write. The first is that I hear stories complete with dialog in my head and I need to write them down. I know many writers who describe this creative process. The second is that I find writing very therapeutic. I have kept journals at important phases of my life, especially when I am in transition or dealing with an emotional challenge of some sort. I find that writing contributes to my well being by clarifying my feelings and thoughts and allowing me to reach and express my real self. I started a blog about a year ago as part of my author platform for social media and thought it would be a chore, but now I love to write and share a lot of myself.

Tell us a little bit about your book/s.

Camille Matthews: The Quincy the Horse series has two books so far out of the four that will make up the complete series. Quincy Finds a New Home is the first. It introduces Quincy and Beau and their owner. It is a story about loss and change the insecurities that come with that experience. It is ultimately about the importance of friendship in helping one to adjust.

Quincy Moves to the Desert is the second book. It is about Quincy’s journey of self-discovery when he and Beau go on a big trip across the United States. I would have to say that the story in first book is my favorite and the artwork in the second book is my favorite.

Are you currently working on any writing projects our readers should watch for release soon?

Camille Matthews: The third book in the Quincy series, Quincy and Buck, will be released this year or next. In that book, Quincy confronts a bully. I am also working on a book on grief that falls under the genres of memoir and self-help.

Have you ever won any writing awards? If so, what?

Camille Matthews: Quincy Finds A New Home and Quincy Moves to the Desert have both won Mom’s Choice Gold Awards.

How did you feel the day you held the copy of your first book in your hands?

Camille Matthews: I was amazed at the entire gestalt of the book and how it felt like more of a piece of art than a story. I had not had experience at designing a children’s picture book and the integration of the text and the art was awesome to me.

What about your family? Do you have children, married, siblings, parents? Has your family been supportive of your writing?

Camille Matthews: My human family includes my daughter, soon to be son-in-law, and my husband. They are all supportive of my endeavors. They sometimes feel concerned about the stress level that exists in book promotion today due to all the changes and “creative destruction” that is going on in publishing and bookselling.

The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?

Camille Matthews: I definitely see some of myself and my personality in Quincy. I did not put it there consciously but I recognized it when I saw it.

Is there an established writer you admire and emulate in your own writing? Do you have a writing mentor?

Camille Matthews: There are certainly established authors of children’s books who I admire. One who has had a big influence is Kevin Henkes. I attended a presentation he did several years ago where he described the picture book as the child’s first experience of art and discussed the interplay of the artistic themes and the melodic structure of the text. I realized that I had been attending to this in creating the style of the Quincy books though I had not heard the concept articulated. This was very affirming and has stayed with me and been a core concept that I reference when I am working on book design.

When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?

Camille Matthews: I was forever touched as a child by E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. I am sure they influenced my writing about animals who think and talk, especially the character of Beau who is Quincy’s mentor and resource for wisdom and support.

I also loved the Black Stallion and Island Stallion Books by Walter Farely. I was a child and teenager who wanted a horse and did not have one and I fantasized about it a lot. The Walter Farely books were incredibly important to me and I read them over and over.

What about now: who is your favorite author and what is your favorite genre to read?

Camille Matthews: I cannot say that I have a current favorite author or genre. I just love to read and always have a stack of books on the bedside table. I read English mysteries, noon-fiction and political analysis, history and novels. If I had to choose all time favorites, they would be the Southern writer, Carson McCullers and Agatha Christie.

Hey, let’s get morbid. When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?

Camille Matthews: I am not sure my writing and books will be enough of note to be discussed extensively in an obituary but I hope the artistic design and beauty of the Quincy the Horse Books will be mentioned. I hope those who know and love me will talk about what an amazing discovery it was for me to began writing at a later stage of life.

Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them

Camille Matthews: I have already mentioned the animals in my life whom I consider to be family members. I am sure the word pet can be used interchangeably with family member for many people. I have a Great Pyrenees dog named Jack. He is a gentle giant who brings humor and unconditional love into my daily life. I lost my other Great Pyrenees, Isabelle, right after Christmas and miss her very much. Jack seems to like being an only dog because my husband and I no longer work full time outside of our and are home with him. We have decided not to get him a partner for now. My cat, Miss Kitty, helps me run the horse barn and is also part of the equine therapy team.

How long did it take you to write your most recent (or first) book? When you started writing, did you think it would take that long (or short)?

Camille Matthews: I wrote the entire series initially and then expanded the stories. I had the manuscripts for several years while I was trying to find the right illustrator. When I began to collaborate with Michelle Black and she did the artwork, I did a major edit of the text. I was not prepared for the process of book design that is so important to a children’s picture book. Actually the first book came through that process much faster than the second book. There were many problems with the second book because I had moved and Michelle Black and I were not able to work together in the same way day to day.

Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?

Camille Matthews: That definitely happened in Quincy Moves to the Desert. There were several times where the story took over. Actually it was several of the illustrations that took over and sent the story in a new direction. I found it very comforting because I had not been sure where to go with the storyline.

It’s said that the editing process of publishing a novel with a publisher is can be grueling and often more difficult than actually writing the story. Do you think this is true for you? How did you feel about editing your masterpiece?

Camille Matthews: Editing a children’s picture book is what I imagine it would be like to try and edit a poem. I have not written poetry, but that is what comes to mind as an analogy. It is important to go over each word as well as the melodic structure and voice. When I was trying to choose the word that would best convey what Quincy felt, I put myself in the mode I am in as a therapist communicating with a child, simple, clear and direct. At times I wished I were more knowledgeable about reading levels and vocabulary but perhaps that would have just added another concern.

Now, use this space to tell us more about who you. Anything you want your readers to know. Include information on where to find your books, any blogs you may have, or how a reader can learn more about you and writing.
Camille Matthews

Contact information:

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Comments

comments

4 comments to Author Interview & Short Review: Quincy Moves to the Desert, by Camille Matthews

  • Jennifer Walker  says:

    Thank you so much for hosting Camille today!

  • Derek Odom  says:

    What a great interview. Thanks, it was a wonderful read. 🙂

  • Laura Sjosten  says:

    Great interview! I love the Quincy the Horse Books – they are beautiful.

  • […] June 21–Book review at A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book and author interview at Michy’s Book Reviews […]

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