“Adrift in the Sound,” Kate Campbell’s debut novel was a finalist for New York’s 2011 Mercer Street Books Literary Prize. The companion volume “Between the Sheets: An Intimate Exchange on Writing, Editing, and Publishing,” chronicles the final editing of “Adrift in the Sound,” and is co-authored with novelist/editor Thomas T. Thomas. An award-winning journalist, editor and photographer, Campbell’s environmental and political writing appears regularly in newspapers and magazines. She holds a degree in journalism from San Francisco State University and studied creative writing at American River College and the University of California, Davis. She lives in Sacramento and, in addition to writing fiction and poetry, publishes the Word Garden blog at www.kate-campbell.blogspot.com.
What inspires you to write?
At the root of my writing is the impulse to share the images I carry around inside. Making those images and impressions tangible helps me feel connected with readers who can see what I see, but through their own lens. I love interpretation and feedback. Novelist George Orwell is quoted as saying there are four motives for writing: “sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse, and political purpose.” Of these four, I’d say aesthetic enthusiasm is my strongest creative driver.
Tell us about your writing process.
I get up every day about 4 a.m. and write. It’s a no-matter-what situation. Sometimes it’s emails and sometimes it’s art. Then I go to work and write news and feature stories. Writing is organic, inseparable from myself, continuous. Evoked by image, in my creative work I build word bridges to my own understanding, moving toward the heat of truth, trusting my readers will follow and see it in the flames of my vision.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters are real in that they exist from the pieces and parts of real people I encounter, sometimes they are present in a fascinating gesture of the hand, sometimes in the larger context of situation or the moral outcome of story. In the process of writing, I come to know not only my characters’ motivations, but also their speech patterns, smells, tastes, all the things that make them human to me. Dialog with my characters is developed through speech practiced out loud, which is why I need complete privacy when I write. I need to speak and write freely, outside the presence of others who might not understand the process of evoking, of dwelling in a nether space.
What advice would you give other writers?
There is only one piece of advice that matters: write–fearlessly, endlessly. Learn the techniques and forms, study the work of others, experiment, celebrate, keep moving.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Given the disruption in the publishing industry, I chose to publish my work independently. I made a half-hearted attempt to find an agent, but soon realized the door-keepers’ gates are flooded with manuscripts, mainstream publishers are risk adverse, distribution channels are clogged. But, I don’t recommend independent publishing, either. Marketing is an art in itself and without good marketing it’s hard to fight through the media turbulence to the shores of discoverability. There are heartening examples of publishing success using both independent and traditional routes, which keeps me going, hoping there’s a larger audience out there for my work. I have always understood that writing, while a creative endeavor, is also a business. Doing both well is the challenge, no matter the path taken.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There will always be a place for stories and books. Interestingly, the surge in ebooks has diminished according to recent sales reports. What I think will happen, as has happened with other media, is that each medium will find its niche and work in concert to the benefit of the market. Radio did not kill recordings; TV did not kill radio; CDs did not kill movies. In the purest sense, publishing is a transportation system for information, just like a railroad or shipping line, it moves the “goods” of ideas to the marketplace. Right now the road is bumpy, but the market (consumers) have the force to smooth things out, getting what they want delivered when they want it and at a price they will pay. Publishing has a dynamic, evolving future as a delivery system. I can’t wait to find out what emerges and hope delivery of my work will be a part of it.
What do you use?
Co-writer, Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
novels, non-fiction, memoir, short stories, poetry
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print