Saturday, November 19, 2022

Q&A with Camron Wright




Camron Wright is the author of the historical novel In Times of Rain and War. His other books include The Orphan Keeper. He lives near Salt Lake City.


Q: What inspired you to write In Times of Rain and War, and how did you create your characters Audrey and Wesley?


A: I was introduced to the topic of WWII bomb disposal through Rachel Bowers. I met her at a book event for The Orphan Keeper and her story was amazing.


Rachel served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her task as Lead Vehicle Commander was to ride at the front of their nighttime convoys and spot IEDs, the roadside bombs the insurgents would set to kill our troops.


During her service, Rachel (then Sergeant Bowers) guided convoys over 5,000 miles on the country’s most dangerous roads, delivered crucial supplies that sustained 12 Forward Operating Bases, escorted more than 900 civilian vehicles, was hit by IEDs twice, and was ultimately responsible for over 25 percent of her company’s total IED finds, saving numerous lives.


For her service, Rachel was awarded three medals: a Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal (for valorous actions in direct contact with an enemy), and a Bronze Star. In addition, she was later recognized in the Congressional Record by the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.


As amazing as her story is, what I found most enthralling (without giving too much away) was a profound connection she shared with her grandfather, a man who had served in bomb disposal during World War II.


My original intent was to write both stories together, moving from her grandfather’s service in WWII to Rachel’s story in Iraq—but it just didn’t work.


The solution was to separate them into two books. The first takes place in WWII, and the second (a free download), follows with Rachel’s story in Iraq.


As for the character Wesley, I took what I knew about him from Rachel, and then mostly wrapped in fictional detail from my research. Audrey’s character was the same. While fictional, she is a compilation of several characters I uncovered in my research.


Q: What kind of research did you need to do to write the novel, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I read numerous books on the war, particularly those detailing the Blitz in London. I watched documentaries. I read historical accounts. I spoke with British historians. When I started, I expected my research to take about a year. In the end, it took three.


Through it all, the narratives I enjoyed the most (and adapted into my own character’s) were first-person accounts written as the war unfolded. They came from a project called Mass-Observation. It was a social research project that had started about three years before the war began and is now preserved in a collection housed at the University of Sussex.


As part of the project, people journaled their thoughts and feeling and then mailed them in to be studied later. Keep in mind that these are not historical glances back after the fact, but real-time diaries of individuals living and writing during these precarious wartime moments, not knowing whether they would survive.


Many of my characters’ situations, reactions, and attitudes were taken from or inspired by these real first-person accounts.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I had a general idea because it was based on real people and real experiences. That said, when I write, I don’t outline. It means I’m often just as surprised as others by the direction and decisions many of my characters take.  


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: I hope readers walk away with respect and admiration for those who lived through the war. I tried to be realistic in my depictions, rather than offering up a romanticized version of the war.


That said, I believe there is also hope to be gleaned from the story. The WWII generation can teach us countless lessons if we’ll just take the time and effort to listen and learn from them.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: My publisher recently released Young Reader Editions of both The Rent Collector and The Orphan Keeper. It was very satisfying to revisit these stories and then rework them for a younger audience. I enjoyed it immensely.


So much so, that I’m working on a story now that I hope will release directly to a Young Reader or Teen audience. I’m just starting, meaning it’s many months away before I finish, but I’m intrigued with how the story is unfolding.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: To download Rachel’s story for free, Saving RachelMcCally, readers can visit my website at and then click the link under Books for Saving Rachel McCally.


Lastly, to those who read my books, thank you! It is because of you that I get the opportunity to write, so I am enormously grateful.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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