Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bill Cameron

Bill Cameron is the author of dark, gritty mysteries featuring Skin Kadash: County Line, Day One, Chasing Smoke, and Lost Dog. Bill’s short stories have appeared in Spinetingler, as well as Portland Noir, First Thrills, and the forthcoming West Coast Crime Wave and Deadly Treats anthologies. His work been nominated for multiple awards, including the Spotted Owl Award for Best Northwest Mystery, the Left Coast Crime Rocky Award, and the 2011 CWA Short Story Dagger Award.

Recently I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
In the last few years, I've been reading more and more young adult fiction. We've all seen the explosion in YA: the paranormal Twilight series, the dystopian Hunger Games, and a host of other tales from fantasy to adventure to contemporary. When I first picked up some of these offerings in the recent YA renaissance, it was more out of bemusement than genuine interest. I'm a crime guy, after all—the darker, grittier, and more adult the better.

What I discovered is some of the best writing going on today. The audience might be young adult, but the stories are of the kind any age can appreciate: rich, engaging, often thought-provoking and in many cases simply damn fine reads. Hourglass, the debut novel by Nashville author Myra McEntire is the latest young adult novel to blow me away.

Part science-fiction, part romance, part spiritual journey, with a dash of mystery and a mega-dose of suspense, Hourglass centers around Emerson Cole, a young woman who hallucinates visions of people from the past. As the story opens, Emerson is struggling to pull her life together four years after the death of her parents. She's been institutionalized and medicated, but the visions keep getting worse. She's more than willing to believe she's crazy. But when she meets Michael, a consultant her brother has hired to help her resolve her issues, she learns her visions might be real. Their meeting sets in motion a plan to reach through time and undo a murder before it can happen.

In less capable hands, the story might have seemed schizophrenic, or like it was trying too hard to be too many things at once. But McEntire navigates the challenging waters of her tale with the aplomb of a seasoned veteran. She balances romance with suspense, deftly tackles teen angst in the midst a murder mystery, and wraps it all up in a philosophical page-turner.

I'm a reader more than anything else. I read for pleasure, for information, for emotional and intellectual sustenance. But most often I find myself reading as a writer. I pick apart the story at hand, analyze how the author constructed the plot and the characters, and contemplate ways I'd do things differently. Sometimes this process gets in the way of enjoying a story as a story.

Hourglass is my favorite kind of book: the kind which makes me forget I'm a writer for a little while. Myra McEntire's debut made me a pure reader again. I lost sleep, and picked up the book when my To Do list would have had me doing other things. I pondered it when need forced me to do other things. When it ended, I wanted more.

Fortunately, I hear there will be sequel. I can't wait.
Visit Bill Cameron's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Lost Dog.

My Book, The Movie: Lost Dog.

The Page 69 Test: Chasing Smoke.

The Page 69 Test: County Line.

--Marshal Zeringue