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Words With a Wordsmith: Michelle Cameron
By Rebecca D’Harlingue
October 28, 2022

Michelle Cameron is a novelist exploring lesser-known epochs in Jewish history.

If you could write any other genre, what would it be?

I admire and envy writers who can spin a funny tale, who inject humor into their work. Yes, I’ve tried – but not yet succeeded. Maybe in another lifetime.

Do you have a favorite comic or graphic novel?

The young writers I teach at The Writers Circle are always shocked that I know so much about comics, particularly those from Marvel and DC. While I don’t have a favorite per say, comics had a significant influence on my life. My brother Matt spent his weekly allowance on comic books and I read them when he was done. Frankly, I was more intrigued by the relationships between the heroes than the portrayal of violence – the arguments, the reconciliations, and especially the romances. My own romance grew out of Matt’s love for comics. The proprietor of a used bookstore realized he and my husband-to-be shared this passion and introduced them. Matt brought Steve home to see his collection – and we met. Steve kept his own collection pristine – a fact that helped us buy our first home, when he sold that collection to help us finance our down payment. There’s a lot more to this response – which you can read if interested on the blog I wrote in response to Stan Lee’s death, Not Quite ‘Nuff Said.

What’s the best compliment a reader has ever given you?

“I couldn’t put your book down and stayed up all night reading it.” I always tell my aspiring novelists that their job is to stop the reader from turning off the light and going to sleep. I love when a reader tells me I’ve kept them up into the wee hours.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have four unpublished novels – all finished. The first two were what I called my practice novels, written to teach myself the craft. The third I had high hopes for. It was a YA about William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, that eventually became my verse novel, In the Shadow of the Globe. But when the film Shakespeare in Love came out as I was finishing the YA, I was a naïve writer who thought that the film meant no one would buy my book. (Of course, I know now the opposite is true!) The fourth was the prequel to Beyond the Ghetto Gates – all about the Jews in France gaining citizenship during the French Revolution. I discovered after finishing that book and looking at it with an editor’s eye that simply recounting historical facts weren’t enough to create a narrative – there needed to be a solid story. It wasn’t totally wasted effort, however, as I already knew a lot about my characters when writing Beyond the Ghetto Gates and the sequel forthcoming in 2024, Napoleon’s Mirage.

Do you speak a second language? Do you think differently in that language? Does it influence your writing?

Having lived for 14 years in Israel, I’m fluent in Hebrew – which has been a boon in the Jewish historical novels I write. Yes, I definitely think differently in that language – I watch Israeli shows or speak with my husband, and the Israeli in me emerges. I have never been good with languages, however, so it somewhat amuses and alarms me that I feel compelled to sprinkle other languages – French, Italian, Yiddish, even Arabic – throughout my novels to give a flavor for the various characters’ nationalities.

Michelle Cameron writes Jewish historical fiction, including the award-winning BEYOND THE GHETTO GATES and THE FRUIT OF HER HANDS. Forthcoming in fall 2023 is BABYLON: a novel of exile and return, and in spring 2024 the sequel to BEYOND THE GHETTO GATES, NAPOLEON’S MIRAGE. Michelle is also the author of the verse novel about William Shakespeare, IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLOBE.  She is a director of The Writers Circle, a NJ-based creative writing program that offers workshops and events to children, teens, and adults – and is extraordinarily proud of her seven published students.

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Rebecca D’Harlingue

Written by Rebecca D’Harlingue

Award-winning author Rebecca D’Harlingue writes about seventeenth-century women forging a different path. Her debut novel, The Lines Between Us, won an Independent Press Award and a CIBA Chaucer Award. Her second novel, The Map Colorist, won a Literary Titan Award and a Firebird Book Award.

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