Author Richard Van Camp interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Jan 29, 2016 3:44:51 PM

Author Richard Van Camp interview with David Alan Binder

By way of introduction here is a quick bio:

Richard Van Camp is a proud member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. He is the author of two children’s books with the Cree artist George Littlechild: A ManCalled Raven and What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses? He has published a novel, The Lesser Blessed, which is now a feature film with First Generation Films; his collections of short fiction include Angel Wing Splash Pattern, The Moon of Letting Go and Other Stories, Godless but Loyal to Heaven and Night Moves. He is the author of three baby books: Welcome Song for Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns; Nighty Night: A Bedtime Song for Babies and Little You (now translated into Cree, Dene and South Slavey!), and he has two comic books out with the Healthy Aboriginal Network: Kiss Me Deadly and Path of the Warrior. His graphic novel, Three Feathers, is about restorative justice; his new novel, Whistle, is about mental health and asking for forgiveness and his graphic novel, The Blue Raven, is about mental health. His latest graphic novel is A Blanket of Butterflies and it’s about peacemaking where a grandmother is the hero of the story. Cinematic adaptations of his work include “Mohawk Midnight Runners”, by Zoe Hopkins based on Richard’s short story, “Dogrib Midnight Runners” from The Moon of Letting Go and “Hickey Gone Wrong”, and based on his comic book by Chris Auchter.

His Web Site:

His Amazon Page:

His Good Reads Page:

1. Where are you currently living?

Edmonton, Alberta. Treaty 6 Territory.

2. Why did you start writing?

I’ve always been a reader but I started to see that no one was writing about my life: no one was writing about hopping on a snowmobile to go to high school; no one was talking about the romance up north, the beauty, the fun. So I started writing The Lesser Blessed, the novel. That was 20 years ago.

3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far? You have to be your own best editor and promoter.

4. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? Things come quickly and, when they do, it’s magic!

5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

Today you have to be a hybrid author: you have to consider all options: Pantheon, KickStarters, self-publishing, traditional publishing, commissions, e-publications. It’s all valid.

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

I work with Douglas&McIntyre/Harbour, Orca Books, The Healthy Aboriginal Network, McKellar&Martin, Great Plains, Kegedonce Press, Pearson Canada, the Indigenous Narrative Collective, Portage and Main and Lee&Low Books in North America. I work with Gaia in France and Ravensburger in Germany and Afbau Verlag in Berlin.

6. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Go to their sites and look at exactly what they’re looking for and send in your very best—even if it means hiring a copy editor. Manuscripts that are littered with typo’s and grammatical errors can cost a writer in so many ways. Contests are a great way to build your CV. Go to your local Writer in Residence and meet with them. Nothing beats sound advice.

7. How did you acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I was lucky enough to send The Lesser Blessed, the manuscript, to Carolyn Swayze. She sold it quickly to Douglas & McIntyre. I also work with Janine Cheeseman and Tracy Essex-Simpson at Aurora Artists. I’d write to an agent that intrigues you or call them and let them know what you’re up to. The best time to secure an agent is when you have a deal before you. This way you can let your agent focus on the business aspect of your career: you can enjoy the writing.

8. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers?

Again, be your own best editor. Learn how to write clearly and learn how to use punctuation to make your writing sing.

9. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

You can have your best book out, but you have to be the one to champion it because you are competing with hundreds of other titles from other accomplished authors out at the same time. Your relationship with local bookstores and Social Media are great tools to move your books. Also, use Facebook and Twitter to promote yourself: it’s free and it’s fun to hear feedback from readers. I love it.

10. How many books have you written?

We’ll have 20 books out in 20 years by the end of 2016. I’m proud of them all, and I’m proud to have worked with such great editors like Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Barbara Pulling, the editors at Orca, David MacDonald, Annalee Greenberg, Tonya Martin, Maurice Mierau and my wife, Keavy Martin. I’m grateful to my publishers and anyone who’s read or taught my work. Mahsi cho!

11. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer?

Read as much as you can and read what turns you on. Let it inspire you. Also, watch a pile of movies and TV shows that speak to you and ask yourself, “How could I have made this better?” Once you become a critical reader and watcher, you know what makes your stories unique.

12. We’ve heard that it is good to provide twists in a good story. How do you do this?

Give your secondary characters secrets and turn them loose. J

13. What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Great covers and tonnes of promo.

14. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

Twitter, Facebook, touring, launches.

15. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing) and why?

Honestly, I’m so grateful to do what I do that even the tough stuff is worth it every time someone writes a letter asking a question about a character or to thank me for writing a book that their baby adores. I’m just so grateful for everything. J


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