Interview with Cameron Haley

, by Kt Clapsadl

I had the opportunity to interview Cameron Haley, author of the Underworld Cycle series. The second installment, Skeleton Crew, will be released on April 19th. You can check out my review here.

*Your series features a heroine who is a “good” bad guy. Where did you get the idea for a gangster with a moral compass?

I've always been infatuated with outlaws. Traditionally, you get a heroic outlaw by making the Law even worse, allowing your outlaw hero to battle injustice and abuse of power. That's the Robin Hood archetype. There's also something compelling about a bad guy who's just bad, but is still a human being (or wants to be) and is seeking some measure of redemption. I think of Jules in Pulp Fiction: "The truth is, you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd." I suspect the "bad guy with a spark of humanity" idea is also at the heart of what makes certain contemporary takes on vampires so engaging.There's something really heroic about a person who isn't just moral in order to get along in society, in order to conform, but because they want to be, even though it would be easier for them to be a monster.
So, anyway, that's Domino. At the beginning of MOB RULES, she's almost completely alienated from the normal human world. She begins to try to reconnect with that world by the end of the book, and we see that character arc continue in SKELETON CREW. Adan, of course, is her mirror, but for him the struggle to reconnect with the human world is far more literal. As to the question of inspiration, though, there's Jules--it's no coincidence he gets a call-out in SKELETON CREW.

*I've always loved the outlaw with a conscience as well, as they are so much fun to root for. How many books do you have planned for this series? Any hints you can give us for what is in store?

I'm currently working on Book 3, tentatively titled DEAD DROP. I'd love to write six books or more in the series, if the audience and the publisher are game. As for what's in store, it's fair to say without giving anything away that events are moving toward an apocalyptic scenario. One of the things I love about urban fantasy is that there's so many approaches you can take to it. Are the supernatural elements out in the open or hidden? Is the tradition you draw most heavily upon noir detective fiction, romance, mystery, or heroic fantasy? In The Underworld Cycle, I'm trying to play with different traditions and different approaches as the metaplot evolves. So the supernatural is basically hidden and confined to the margins of society in MOB RULES, but it's becoming more "open" as the series continues. I'm drawing heavily on crime/gangster fiction in the first book, a little less in the second, and that shift of focus will continue more in the direction of heroic fantasy as the world changes and that apocalyptic scenario draws near.

*The shift in focus has actually made me like Domino and this series even more, and I didn't think that was possible! So, how do you choose your character names?

It depends on the character. Domino is multicultural, and I wanted that to be reflected in her name. "Shanar Rashan" -- the first and last names are anagrams, which indicates that it's made-up and also injects a little mystery into that character. Adan, I think, came off a baby name list, and I liked the way "Adan Rashan" sounded. Other names, like Honey and Mr. Clean, are meant to conjure a certain mental imagery and/or comedic effect.

*Well, I think you did a really good job with the names, especially Domino as it really suits her. What are some of your favorite books in the paranormal genre?

For the most part, I think about series rather than individual books. Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels, Mike Carey's Felix Castor, the early Anita Blake books. I've been reading Moning's Fever series and enjoying it a great deal, even though I wasn't sure I would. Some of my favorites are what I'd call more literary contemporary fantasy, particularly Tim Powers, Sean Stewart.

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)The Devil You Know (Felix Castor)Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter)Darkfever (Fever Series, Book 1)

*Definitely some very good choices, especially The Kate Daniels books and the Fever series. I absolutely love those books! Have you always wanted to be a writer, and how long did it take you to achieve your dream?

Yeah, I "wanted to be a writer" the way a lot of people do, which is to say I wrote some bad stories, later took some classes, but never really committed to actually doing it. MOB RULES was my first novel, and of course it was published, so as with so many things, achieving the dream had a lot to do with ending the procrastination and actually making that commitment.

*Just for fun. If you were stranded somewhere but had electric, what three things other than basic survival supplies, would you have to have?

Does toilet paper count as basic survival supplies? Assuming it does, I guess I'll give the writer's answer: a laptop, a mini fridge, and a portable still.

*Haha, yes I would definitely consider toilet paper to be basic survival supplies ;) Finish this statement: "You'll like Skeleton Crew if.."

" like fast-paced, action-packed, and often humorous urban fantasy with complex world-building and a strong, capable, and somewhat conflicted heroine."

Thanks so much for giving me an opportunity to speak with your reader!

Thanks Cameron!

Author Info:

Cameron Haley is the pseudonym for Greg Benage, an aspiring writer who lives with his wife, Maria, in Minneapolis. When he’s not creating stories, Greg creates spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations as a senior product manager for one of the largest commercial banks in the U.S. MOB RULES is his first published novel.

Find Cameron Online

Book Info:

Some people fear snakes. Me? Let it be known that Domino Riley hates zombies.

Bodies are hitting the pavement in L.A. like they always do, but this time they’re getting right back up, death be damned. My mobbed-up outfit of magicians may be the strongest in the city, but even they aren’t immune to the living dead.

And I’ve yet to develop a resistance to Adan Rashan.

If I don’t team up with the boss’s son, we won’t just be at each other’s throats over control of the outfit. We’ll be craving hearts and brains, as well.

Because as long as this nasty spirit from the Between is stopping souls from finding peace, I’m facing the biggest supernatural crisis to ever hit the City of Angels.

Zombies, it’s time you feared me.


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