I’m chatting with Becca Campbell,
author of Foreign Identity, a science
fiction New Adult novel published earlier this month. New Adult is a
classification of book just a step up in age from “young adult” and generally
has characters in their early twenties. First a little about Becca’s book, and
then we’ll dive into some writerly conversation. Check out the GIVEAWAY at the end!
Confusion. Fear. This is how it all begins.
Waking up without your memory in a cell and
bound by chains is terrifying.
Two nameless strangers, a man and a woman, find
themselves imprisoned together. With no memories of their own identities, let
alone their captor and tormentor, escape is the only option. The pair faces a
bizarre labyrinth of rooms and clues that confuse more than they explain. Every
discovery only brings more questions.
Who captured them? Why were they taken? What
does their captor want from them? What can the riddles mean?
Who are they?
Lacking allies and options, the duo must learn
to trust one another. Mazes, puzzles, and even strange, lurking creatures force
them to rely on their wits–and each other–for survival. But survival isn’t
enough. They need answers.
Will the answers be enough? Will the truth bring
them closer together, or drive them forever apart? Will discovering their
identities finally bring them home?
Becca, I love that you have three boys (like me!), your husband is a musician
(very much NOT like me), you paint as well as write (I am SO not an artist),
and yet we both ended up writing science fiction. In reading your bio and perusing your
website, I can feel the waves of creativity rolling off your life. Tell us
a little bit about what inspired you to write Foreign Identity, and why you
chose to write a novel your reviewers are calling “science
The idea for the story began with a ten-word writing prompt on a writing blog.
After using the words and writing the initial post, I continued the story on
the blog, adding to it twice a week. I used the latest writing prompt for each
scene, forcing myself to fit the words in. Sometimes they directed the story
and other times I molded them to the ideas in my head. More than half of the
novel was written in serial form, one 1000-word (approximately) scene at a
time. I wrote to a pretty big cliffhanger and then wrote the rest of the story
in private, saving the final reveal for when I would publish the book.
wrote that first post I had no idea of the plot or where the story would lead.
For me that made it fun and exciting to work on. I love mysteries and puzzles.
So as a creative experiment, instead of starting Foreign Identity with
an outline, I started with a problem and worked to find the solution.
I’d decided to start with a problem, I needed to figure out what that problem
would be. What situation could I throw a couple of characters into that would
be complex and seem impossible? My answer was this: chain them up in a
nondescript chamber and strip them of all their memories. And to top that off,
leave them devoid of interaction with their captor and without any clue if they
even had a captor.
(Insert evil writer laugh.)
that, it was just figuring out how to solve my poor characters’ dilemma. How
would they escape? Once they did, what would be waiting for them? At that point
I came up with a full back story and an elaborate scheme for why they might be
in such a situation. But instead of ending the mystery then, I used clues that
raised more questions than they answered. The television show Lost was
a great example of how to write a properly suspenseful story without completely
frustrating the viewers.
love the idea that pantsing your way through the story might be a great way to
create something with lots of “surprises” for the reader. I’m a big fan of
plotting now, but I’ve pantsed my way through several stories (which then
required a lot of rewrites). Do you prefer plotting or pantsing, or do you mix
it up for different stories?
I’ve written two novels via pantsing and two via plotting. I much prefer the
latter. It’s fun to experiment as I go, but I’ve since realized (as you
mentioned) that the less I’ve planned out a story beforehand, the more editing
and rewrites it’s going to need.
pretty organized person, so I typically create an outline that’s a full
chapter-by-chapter long synopsis, listing each scene before I begin writing. I
even break the climax of the book down to six individual points. This helps me
tremendously. Detailing all this doesn’t make it law though, it just gives me
somewhere to begin. I always have to change things as I go, sometimes adding or
deleting full chapters. It’s important for me to be flexible.
like you plot a lot the way I do (now)! My last “outline” had 16,000 words of
ch-by-ch outline before I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to start writing! Now
that Foreign Identity is out, what is your next step? Are you planning a
sequel, or is Foreign Identity a stand-alone book? Do you have other novels in
the works? And can you tell us a bit about Consortium of
Worlds, your anthology?
(although some readers have surprised me by asking about one).
several other books in various stages of edits. The next novel I plan on
publishing is a new adult/urban fantasy story titled Gateway to Reality.
a successful artist but is stuck in a mediocre life. When he discovers that
life as he knows it is only a fictitious construct created by his subconscious
mind and that true reality exists in his dreams, his
entire paradigm shifts.
mirrored bean-shaped sculpture in Millennium Park. If you liked The Matrix or Inception you’ll enjoy this story. It’s
scheduled for publication this October.
of Worlds is a collection of
speculative fiction short stories by several authors in The Consortium, a
non-profit organization with the goal of supporting artists. Consortium Books is my publisher for Foreign Identity.
Identity was published in A Consortium of Worlds #1. A Consortium of Worlds #2 features Not the Norm, my short story
set in an alternate world where the majority of the population has supernatural
abilities due to genetic engineering. The story explores what it is like to be
one of the few who lack superpowers in a world that considers them handicapped
or “sub-normal”. The characters face off against government agents that are
directed to hunt and exterminate them.
Me: Ah, Kira from my
Mindjack Trilogy can relate to that “sub-normal” label that gets applied to
people without the reigning powers-that-be! And pretty much every mindjacker
can sympathize with being hunted down by the government. 🙂 Sounds
like you have some great stuff coming up! I’m excited to read The Cloud Gate, since Chicago
is right in my backyard (also the setting for the Mindjack Trilogy). I want to
see what you do with “The Bean!” 🙂
quick, last question: indie publishers often find success with series, building
on their fan bases with a work that carries the same characters through a
series of three (or more) books. Have you considered writing a series, or are
you inclined more towards stand-alone novels. Why/why not?
I’ve written (the only ones I haven’t mentioned yet) happen to be part of an
urban fantasy series called Flawed.
It focuses on people who have superhuman weaknesses (yes, you read that right). I
plan on publishing Empath,
the first book in the series, sometime next year.
emotions of everyone around her. Deciphering her own desires when she’s around
her friends—especially a guy with a serious crush on her—is hard enough. But
that’s nothing compared to facing the psychopathic killer that has his eye on
Each book focuses on a different character although the cast crosses over
between the stories. I may add more books to the series although I haven’t
planned others yet. (Book two is finished and I plan on writing book three in
November.) I anticipate the popularity of this series to eclipse that of my
stand alone books, I pretty much just take the ideas as they come. I’ve enjoyed
both and don’t prefer one over the other, although I do tend to get more
attached to my characters who are part of a series.
your new releases in the fall and years to come! Thanks so much for chatting
with me today, and I wish you luck with Foreign Identity – although I have a
feeling you won’t be needing it.
her novel Foreign Identity plus a copy of her short story Not the Norm (previously in the Consortuim anthology)! Enter the
Rafflecopter below before midnight Tuesday (open internationally). If you can’t wait to win (um, like me), you can buy Foreign Identity for $0.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!