Author Spotlight – Tara Cameron

Tara Cameron is a writer, editor, and photographer who has struggled with mental illness and being an odd duck since childhood, has never fit into any of the neatly labeled human boxes. Her photography has appeared in Rascal Journal, Red Flag Poetry, Scene & Heard, and Penultimate Peanut, and has been featured in an outdoor installation by her hometown in Kingston, Ontario Canada where she lives with her three daughters, partner, cat, dog, three rats, and a house that is way too large. You can find Tara on twitter @CreativeOddDuck, Instagram @the_creative_odd_duck, or on her website https://thecreativeoddduckca.wordpress.com.

Her story “Bad Moon Repeating” appeared in Issue Two.

EP: Hi Tara, thanks for joining us! How’s your 2019 going so far?

Tara: It’s looking pretty good so far. I just put the finishing touches on a second short story and have just finished a new collection of photographs, so I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.

EP: That’s awesome! Sounds like you’re off to a very creative start. What’s the new story about?

Tara: It’s a second technician story. It follows a different set of characters through the same universe set up in the story published in your December issue.

EP: That’s very cool. I love shared universe stories. Do you have any plans to make it into a larger collection of stories, or longer work?

Tara: This one is actually much longer than “Bad Moon Repeating,” clocking in at just over 10,000 words. I actually think because of this particular universe, they work really well as a collection of shorts rather than each as individual books, but I am hoping to put together a collection. I have a third started, just a rough draft, and a rough outline of how I would like the book to be laid out.

EP: That sounds like a really interesting project. I can definitely see how the technician could tie a bunch of diverse stories together and give them a unified perspective. Well, I was going to ask you what inspired “Bad Moon Repeating,” but it sounds like your scope is far wider than a single story. So instead, what inspired this universe, or this sort of alternate reality?

Tara: I’ve always been a history buff. I absolutely love reading historical accounts and I eat up documentaries like most people do reality TV. There’s all these patterns in human history that seem to create these recurring themes. My mind just ran with it over time, imagining what those themes would look like from the outside, as an observer with no skin in the game.

EP: Of course, that’s a fascinating idea. It makes you kind of zoom out from your own life and realize that there is always a larger perspective. It’s very humbling. And it makes for a gripping narrative. Because, even as an observer, you can’t help but become attached to these characters you’ve created. And their believability is so sharp in contrast to the speculative setting. Is speculative fiction something you’ve always been drawn to, or was it just a fit for this particular concept?

Tara: Well the great thing about history is the large overarching narratives that historians string together from all these individual lives, and part of the inspiration for the story was the bias that sneaks in while they are weaving them, often times without them knowing it. Speculative fiction, for me, is like a creative extension of that. We really don’t have a very clear picture of our history, and no idea where it is we are heading—it is often a great place for inspiration. Taking that bit of knowledge and letting your imagination run with it.

EP: That’s a great point. I love it. You certainly can’t tell a story without an observer. So every story has a bit of the narrator in it. And yes, there are so many unknowns, history is a valuable tool—even though we can’t use it to predict the future, it’s all we have to help us identify trends in our culture, our lives, and our world. Speaking of getting the narrator into the story, I wanted to ask you a little bit about your identity as the “creative odd duck.” Our mission atExoplanetis to share stories from underrepresented voices, and your story is a perfect fit. You “get it.” Can you speak a little to this identity and how you’ve come to own it?

Tara: I didn’t always. I’ve never quite fit in anywhere, not ever. Growing up, it was hard being the odd one out and I did spend time trying to fit in. I ended up in a very bad place, sort of spiralled into this person I couldn’t recognize and realized it just wasn’t worth it. It was exhausting, really. I guess it wasn’t so much that I accepted I wasn’t what ‘everyone else considered normal’ so much as I just gave up trying to fit that mold. Sometimes it’s just as exhausting putting up with the attitude I get from some people, but not nearly as often. It took a long time to get there though, and for me anyway, finally just getting tired and fed up. I wasn’t really good at it anyway.

EP: It is exhausting trying to fit in. I can definitely empathize. And I’m so glad you came out of it and became this amazing person and writer!

Tara: Thank you so much. I am a much happier, much more recognizable person, these days.

EP: That’s awesome! That’s all we want to do really, is to let people share their stories, like yours, and at the same time to let people who need to hear these stories experience them. I’m sure many people have already been inspired by you and your work, and many more will be in the future.

Tara: Thank you. I hope I didn’t pale too much in comparison to my characters. They always live much more interesting lives than I do.

EP: I’m glad to hear it. Is there anything else you want to add before we go?

Tara: Well, I guess since you put me in the inspiration seat, I hope anyone reading this, if they take away anything inspirational that is, is to keep going. Never give up on yourself and what you love. It might not always be easy, but it will always be worth it. It sure has been for me. 🙂

EP: Those are great words of advice. Thanks so much for joining us Tara, and for being a great addition to the Exoplanet family.

Tara: Thanks again for having me. The whole process has been incredible from start to finish. I love working with you.

EP: Thank you so much, you’ve been super great to work with too!

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