Interview with Sharon Cameron

The Dark Unwinding  A Spark Unseen  (The Dark Unwinding, #2)

Today I am with the author of the beautifully written historical fiction novel The Dark Unwinding, Sharon Cameron. She was kind enough to answer my questions about her inspirations, if she’d own an automaton and what she’s currently reading.

You’ve created such vivid, descriptive locations for The Dark Unwinding. What inspired Stranwayne Keep?
The situation at Stranwyne Keep is very much inspired by a real estate in England, Welbeck Abbey. In the Victorian era Welbeck was an enormous house with a very eccentric Duke, pink rooms, an underground ballroom and miles of gaslit tunnels. While the Duke at Welbeck was certainly not an inventor, he did hire an enormous amount of men to build his extraordinary projects at Welbeck, saving them from lives of hunger and poverty. He might have been crazy and he definitely squandered his fortune, but in an unusually noble way, I think.

Your characters: Katharine, Uncle Tulman (Tully), Lane, Mrs. Jeffries, the entire cast each is very unique and well developed. Did you create them or their world first?
I’ve always believed that people are shaped just as much by their environment as their DNA, so I almost always create a setting in my head first. Then I imagine what kind of person might inhabit that world, and how that world might affect their natural personality. Characters aren’t really “real” until you know where and how they’ve lived, I think.

Katharine’s uncle is one of the most endearing characters I’ve read, I adore him referring to her as ‘Simon’s Baby.’ What inspired his character?
Uncle Tully is a mixture of real people who have lived with autism and savant syndrome (and with all the anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders that can go with that) and a few specific creative geniuses, like Oliver Heaviside  (bottom left) and Nikola Tesla (bottom right). Brains that work differently are absolutely fascinating to me, and with Uncle Tully, I not only wanted to explore an unusual way of thinking, but also a very childlike way of thinking. A genius who was also an innocent. He was super fun to write!

Oliver Heaviside2.jpg   

Automatons play a unique role in The Dark Unwinding. They are incredibly magical but also a bit creepy. What gave you the inspirations for Uncle Tully’s inventions?
I don’t think they’re a “bit” creepy, I think they’re horrifically creepy! All the automatons are inspired by real machines that were built between the 1740s and the 1850s. Not only were these automatons engineering marvels, but they were famous, touring the world to amaze and frighten the people of the time. There are some great video examples of automatons on my website.

Would you own an automaton? If so what would it do?
Oh, yes. I’d definitely own one. But then I would box it up and put it in a closet where it couldn’t look at me!

What can you tell us about the next book in the series coming out this fall, A Spark Unseen?
Hmmm! I can tell you that the story picks up eighteen months after The Dark Unwinding ends, and that it involves steamer trunks, a missing young man, piles of human bones, lightning, a palace, a tiny moustache, and that there’s a death in the first chapter.

Have you ever considered writing any novellas set in The Dark Unwinding world? Maybe from another character’s point of view, or their back story?
I have tons of little novellas in my head, from all the back stories of the characters to the little things I think happened when Katharine wasn’t present in the book. I haven’t considered making any of them a true novella yet, but one of those little back story novellas definitely led to A Spark Unseen.

Now to some random questions,
Is there a book or character you wish you had written?
I wish I had written Eugenides from Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Thief” series. He’s so tricky and amazing! But I also suspect that he’s smarter than me, which makes me think I could have never written him anyway.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Archived by Victoria Schwab, which was awesome, and just re-read Ruta Sepetys’s Out of the Easy. Love that Ruta!

Are you working on anything outside of The Dark Unwinding world?
Oh yes! New projects abound! Having loads of fun researching 18th century spy gadgets at the moment.

Thank you so much for stopping by My Friends Are Fiction. I cannot wait to get my hands on the A Spark Unseen.

Sharon Cameron lives in  Nashville, Tennessee. She has been a classical piano teacher, full-time mom, part-time genealogist, chair of a non-profit for a local theater group and a coordinator of the SCBWI Midsouth Fall Conference. The Dark Unwinding was her debut novel and winner of a 2013 Crystal Kite Award.

Look for A Spark Unseen from Scholastic Press September 2013

You can find Sharon Cameron on

Twitter                                Facebook                                     Website

A Spark Unseen jacket flap:

“When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes that Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She quickly flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected as she searches for the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself caught in a web of political intrigue. From the court of Napoleon III to the underground tunnels of Paris, Katharine will have to decide how a dangerous weapon can be kept from both a queen and an emperor, and whom she can trust to make her uncle safe once and for all.”

Read my review of The Dark Unwinding

 

Review of The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

The Dark UnwindingThe Dark Unwinding (The Dark Unwinding #1)
By: Sharon Cameron
Release Date: September 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press

My Rating:
star

The Summary (via Goodreads):
When Katharine Tulman’s inheritance is called into question by the rumor that her eccentric uncle is squandering away the family fortune, she is sent to his remote English estate to have him committed to an asylum. But instead of a lunatic, Katharine discovers a genius inventor with his own set of childlike rules, who employs a village of nine hundred people rescued from the workhouses of London. Katharine is now torn between protecting her own inheritance and preserving the peculiar community she has grown to care for—a conflict made even more complicated by a handsome apprentice, a mysterious student, and fears for her own sanity. As the mysteries of the estate begin to unravel, it is clear that not only is her uncle’s world at stake, but also the state of England as they know it. With twists and turns and breathtaking romance at every corner, this thrilling adventure will captivate readers.

The Story:
I first read The Dark Unwinding long before I was blogging and found it to be a creepy and engaging book.  When I purchased this book I knew nothing about it, I picked it up solely from the title, cover and summary. Often times, I am vastly disappointed when reading a book I buy for the cover (you know, don’t judge a book by the cover…but don’t we all?) but thankfully this time I was not. Upon rereading I found I enjoyed it thoroughly all over again.

The story follows Katharine as she is sent to Stranwyne Keep by her calculating and cold Aunt Alice to see what her uncle has been doing with the family inheritance. Katharine finds an uncle as eccentric (he builds realistic and complicated automatons) as he is endearing and the strange community he’s built around him. Nothing is as it seems at the estate and parts of what Katharine goes through had a distinct creepiness that wasn’t blatantly scary but gave me chills nevertheless.

Sharon Cameron states on her website that Stranwyne Keep is in part based on Welbeck Abbey

The Characters:
The strongest aspect of  The Dark Unwinding are the characters Cameron created. Katharine is at times selfish but in a very realistic way. While reading I tried to put myself in her position and see if I would be any less selfish. We really see a drastic change with her character as we traverse the story through her point of view. To me, it seemed that she was shaking away the façade she had learned to wear because of her aunt and emerges as she truly is.

My favorite character by far is Uncle Tully, I adore his childlike nature, innocence yet his ability to really see the point of things where others might not see it.

Uncle Tully frowned, “You got confused, little niece. Sometimes people get confused. They forget. They make mistakes. You forgot about stairs.”

Lane Moreau is Uncle Tully’s caregiver and apprentice; he is a quiet and thoughtful man. He has immense depth but only allows those that have earned his trust and affection to really know him.  I yearned for Katharine to get in his good graces; I wanted to see what shaped him. The secondary characters didn’t really feel like secondary characters. Each was fleshed out and given motives for their actions.

Final Thoughts:
A very engaging book that has an edge of mystery and creepiness that kept me captivated. I eagerly await A Spark Unseen the next in the series.

Extras:
I have an interview with Sharon Cameron- check it out HERE
You can find Sharon Cameron online on Twitter, her website and Facebook

Waiting on Wednesday #1

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine where we post upcoming releases we are highly anticipating. This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is: A Spark Unseen (The Dark Unwinding #2)  by Sharon Cameron

A Spark Unseen  (The Dark Unwinding, #2)Summary (via Goodreads):
When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.
But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.
Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel to THE DARK UNWINDING whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

I really loved The Dark Unwinding (picked up because the cover was just so beautiful) and I can’t wait to see where Cameron takes the second book in the series. And look at that cover! So pretty!

What are you eagerly anticipating? Leave your link in the comments if you have a Waiting on Wednesday post.

Check out my interview with Sharon Cameron