Monday, May 20, 2019

Bryan Camp Interview - Gather the Fortunes

Photo Content from Bryan Camp

Bryan Camp is a graduate of the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop and the University of New Orleans’ Low-Residency MFA program. He started his first novel, The City of Lost Fortunes, in the backseat of his parents’ car as they evacuated for Hurricane Katrina. He has been, at various points in his life: a security guard at a stockcar race track, a printer in a flag factory, an office worker in an oil refinery, and a high school English teacher. He can be found on twitter @bryancamp and at He lives in New Orleans with his wife and their three cats, one of whom is named after a superhero.

Series: A Crescent City Novel (Book 2)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 21, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1328876713
ISBN-13: 978-1328876713


"Camp’s prose is suspenseful and rich with feeling, highlighting an incredible heroine. VERDICT: Full of magic and numerous mythologies but still tied to the lush New Orleans setting, this Crescent City is one readers will not want to leave." —Library Journal, STARRED

"Savory...Renai’s second outing is as raucous as her first, and the magic is just as double-edged and slippery... Renai is a real standout of a heroine, a powerful African-American woman cutting through bad or desperate situations in living and dead realms of increasing chaos, armed with snark, courage, and a storm of magic drawn from deep within her. This will be a feast for all lovers of urban and dark fantasy." —Publishers Weekly, STARRED

"The second Crescent City book (after The City of Lost Fortunes, 2018) once again displays Camp's ability to weave different mythological beliefs in fascinating ways. Readers will relate to Renai as she learns her most trusted guides are unreliable in this fast-paced urban fantasy." —Booklist, STARRED 

"In this second installment of his Crescent City urban fantasy series, Camp raises the stakes and broadens the scope of his alternate world...the richness and inventiveness of Camp's vision and the vivacity, warmth, and compassion of his leading woman keep you alert to whatever's happening next. As with the real New Orleans, once you leave this creepier but just as colorful variant, you'll be eager to go back." —Kirkus Reviews

"What a joy it is to return to Bryan Camp's weird, dark, vivid, gorgeous magical New Orleans. Highly recommended!" —Sam J. Miller, award-winning author of Blackfish City

“The magic and mythological heft of Bryan Camp’s debut doesn’t lose any momentum in Gather the Fortunes. He captures the essence and resilience of a still healing New Orleans by digging into the parts of a city too often ignored by the well-to-do and powerful. If The City of Lost Fortunes was a love letter to New Orleans then its next installment is an Earl King blue’s song.” —Brent Lambert, editor at FIYAH Magazine

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
My first novel, THE CITY OF LOST FORTUNES, started out a homework assignment. I was in undergrad at SLU, taking a fiction workshop with Bev Marshall and a literature course focused on detective fiction. I was also working as a waiter in a steakhouse chain restaurant. (All these things come together in the end, promise) There was a tv show being advertised at the time, and part of the commercial for the show involved a creepy little kid whispering, “It’s real, you know.” And someone else would say, “What’s real?” And that creepy kid would reply, in an even creepier, emphatic whisper, “Everything.” It seemed like a whole month went by where every time I would go to the bar to pick up a drink for one of my tables, I heard this commercial. So I had that idea--everything is real--circling around in my head.

In the workshop, we did a writing exercise focused on sensory detail. We each picked a room and started to write a description of it, and as we did, Bev would say “Now tell us what’s on the wall. Now say where the light is coming from. Now tell us what the room smells like,” that kind of thing. Because I had the detective fiction stuff fresh in my mind, the room that I picked at random was a seedy, back-room poker game. When she got to the end of the exercise, Bev said, “Okay, now put something in the room that doesn’t belong.” Because I was envisioning something both illegal and kind of tawdry, I added an angel.

All those things came together at once: My love of mystery novels and that image of an angel at a poker table and the idea that everything, not just angels or vampires or voodoo, but everything might be real, and I had the beginnings of my first novel.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Recently I got to talk to a class of high schoolers at 826 NEW ORLEANS about writing in general and SF/Fantasy in particular. I ran a quick idea generating workshop and then got blown away by their inventiveness and engagement. It’s always very cool to be on the author side of the table, to have your opinion about literature be sought after and appreciated. But being author-cool enough to not bore a room full of teenagers ranks right up there at the top.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Honestly, the main distraction was just the pressure of writing a second book. I sold two books to JJA Books, and before I got the schedule for the GATHER, I liked to joke that I had 11 years to write the first book and they were only going to give me 11 months to write the second one. Then I got my first professional deadline and suddenly my little joke wasn’t so funny. 11 months was pretty close to reality, as it turned out. And so out of nowhere there was this strange pressure on my writing that was a real distraction. Wanting to write well, and quickly, ironically made it very difficult to write at all.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life in writing?
Read. Read the kinds of stories you love, so you can take them apart and see how they do it. Read the stories you don’t think you could ever write, the stories you wouldn’t normally read, the kinds of stories you don’t even want to write, to see how they did it. Re-read your favorite authors, then find out their favorite authors and read them, too. Read women writers and writers of color and queer writers. Read history and science and memoir and philosophy. For the love of all that is sweet and holy, read some poetry. Read books on craft, but not too many of them, just enough to get hungry. Read big, weighty, dense, challenging works of enduring art, and read short, earnest, I-wrote-this-on-a-dare fan-fiction, and read them knowing that they were both written by someone just like you. A writer who isn’t constantly reading is like a person sitting down for a deep and meaningful conversation and then tuning everyone else out while they wait for their turn to talk.

In your newest book, GATHER THE FORTUNES; can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about the novel?
This novel is focused on a young woman named Renaissance Raines, who—through a series of events in the first Crescent City book THE CITY OF LOST FORTUNES—becomes a psychopomp, one of the guides who leads the newly dead through the Seven Gates of the Underworld. When she goes to collect the soul of a young boy named Ramses St. Cyr, she finds that he’s not there, no body, no soul. Just gone. While we, the living, might think it’s a good thing for someone to escape Death, it turns out that “you live, you die, you move on” is a pretty fundamental aspect of reality. So Renai’s got to find Ramses and bring him home—not to mention figure out how he managed to side-step his destiny—before the worlds of the dead and the living collide in a very, very bad way.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Renaissance Raines?
Well, I’m a white male author writing a black female character, so I had a lot of learning to do. Most of what I learned in terms of influences and interests and daily struggles and mindset wasn’t particularly surprising, it was more a question of degree. However, in order to have a chance of getting the big stuff right, I thought it would be best to get down into the little stuff, so I spent far more time than I thought I would learning about black women’s hair. And, yeah, that was a lot of new and surprising information for me.

Aside from Renaissance Raines, which of your characters do you feel has grown the most since book one and in what way have they changed?
I’m tempted to say Salvatore, the dog and raven shape wearing psychopomp, but his growth happens in-between the two books, in a stand-alone story that I’ve envisioned but haven’t written yet, so that seems unfair. And so I’d have to say Regal Constant, the Will of New Orleans. In THE CITY OF LOST FORTUNES, Regal is closed off and untrusting and burdened with secrets and resentment. In GATHER THE FORTUNES, she’s got a purpose and has found her place, so she’s much more of a team player. She’s still Regal though! Still crass and arrogant and deliberately abrasive. She’s a lot of fun to write.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I think it would be good for Regal Constant to meet Sierra Santiago from Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper Cypher. I think they’d have a lot to discuss in terms of magic and culture and family and history. Mostly, though, I think it would be good for Regal to get taken down a notch or two, and Sierra’s got the sass to do it.

  • 1. Osten Ard, from Tad Williams’ MEMORY, SORROW, and THORN series
  • 2. The Galaxy Far, Far Away from the Star Wars films
  • 3. The City of Palimpsest, from Catherynne M. Valente’s PALIMPSEST
  • 4. The Stillness, from N.K. Jemisin’s BROKEN EARTH series
  • 5. Wreath and Landfall, from Brian K. Vaughn’s SAGA series
  • 6. Exandria, from Critical Role
  • 7. The Divine Cities of Robert Jackson Bennet’s DIVINE CITIES series
  • 8. The Six Duchies from Robin Hobb’s FARSEER Trilogy
  • 9. Terre d’Ange, from Jacqueline Carey’s KUSHIEL’S LEGACY Trilogy
  • 10. The Five Dominions from Clive Barker’s IMAJICA
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My glasses, because I wrecked these eyes reading. My phone, because I’m as plugged into the Matrix as everybody else. A sharpie, because I’m convinced that one day I’ll run into a fan on the street who wants an autograph. And I bring a book everywhere I go, just in case I’ve got a few idle moments to read a few pages.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
A couple of years after Clarion West, I met up with a bunch of my classmates at a remote cabin for a week long reunion and writing retreat. The cabin had a guest book, and we were asked to sign it. To be clear, a house full of scifi/fantasy writers on a writing retreat were asked to pass around a notebook. We spent the week writing horror stories--some funny, some dark, some both—where one of us turned evil and killed the rest of us, which we read to each other over the campfire. So, imagine a horror movie where all the characters are trope savvy writers, making up goofy scary stories to entertain each other while, simultaneously, there’s a real evil force stalking them all. I mean, I’d watch it.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
The late 90s were a pretty great time to be a teenager. Chrono Trigger. The Matrix. Growing up in that liminal space during the invention and adoption of the internet. I don’t think I’d change that even if I had the option.

Renaissance Raines has found her place among the psychopomps—the guides who lead the souls of the recently departed through the Seven Gates of the Underworld—and done her best to avoid the notice of gods and mortals alike. But when a young boy named Ramses St. Cyr manages to escape his foretold death, Renai finds herself at the center of a deity-thick plot unfolding in New Orleans. Someone helped Ramses slip free of his destined end -- someone willing to risk everything to steal a little slice of power for themselves.

Is it one of the storm gods that’s descended on the city? The death god who’s locked the Gates of the Underworld? Or the manipulative sorcerer who also cheated Death? When she finds the schemer, there’s gonna be all kinds of hell to pay, because there are scarier things than death in the Crescent City. Renaissance Raines is one of them.

You can purchase Gather the Fortunes at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you BRYAN CAMP for making this giveaway possible.
10 Winners will receive a Copy of GATHER THE FORTUNES by Bryan Camp.

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1 comment:

  1. Great interview. New Orleans is a cool place for a setting. Best of luck to Mr. Camp on this new release!