Cameron Bane is the pen-name for an author who has written several thrillers, seen mild success but a bit more failure, and is finally starting to see some movement forward in his career. We wanted to let him have the floor, to speak to those authors who have been trying for years, but have yet to see big success…
A few years ago I wrote a couple inspirational novels that sold well, but don’t really reflect my style now. The split came when I wanted to explore darker, more mature themes than that market would allow, and rather than force the issue, I simply left it. With my newer works, including PITFALL, I was looking for a pen-name that was memorable and a little dangerous-sounding; thus, Cameron Bane.
I’ve been writing professionally for more a couple of decades, with six novels commercially published. I’m also a member of the Authors Guild, and for three years I was on faculty at a nationally ranked writers conference held near Santa Fe. There I taught tracks on plotting, theme, dialogue, and character development. Also, with a background in broadcasting and journalism, I’m very comfortable in dealing with all aspects of the media. I have an active on-line presence, and I’m a member of such diverse sites as AbsoluteWrite, deCompose, and James Lileks’ blog, who’s a popular columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Finally, I’m close friends with my mentor, writer James Scott Bell, author of the popular Plot and Structure, published by Writers Digest Books.
I’ve been at this game for a long time now, and people sometimes ask me how I got started. Glad to oblige. The truth is, I’ve always liked to write, even from my early teen years when as a seventh-grader our English class was challenged by our teacher to write a one-page story each week. “Challenged” is probably the wrong word — a “requirement” is what it was, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable. After that year was over I still noodled around with writing, even starting a science fiction novel that died a squirming and well-deserved death.
Then in college I majored in film and minored in journalism, and so was handed the thankless job of student affairs editor for the school paper (“Yeah, is this Eata Bitta Pi? Cameron Bane for the Progress. You guys still planning that kegger this weekend at Marsh’s Creek? Cool…” or “Yeah, is this Tappa Kegga Bru? Cameron Bane here for the Progress. You still planning that pool shoot-out this Friday at Dirty Ernie’s? Yeah, if it’s open competition I’ll bring my stick…” or “Yeah, is this I Felta Thi? Cameron Bane here for the Progress. You guys… ?” You get the idea. Real Pulitzer Prize stuff.
But then college was over. I got married to the best woman on the planet (still am, 46 years later), fathered two fine sons, and began running a financial planning firm (“Yeah, is this J. Jonah Gotbux? Cameron Bane here from Financial Freedom. Say, have you ever…?”)
Time passed, and my love for writing seemed to fade. But on New Year’s Day a few years later it came roaring back in an unexpected way. I was watching one of the bowl games on TV when suddenly I started seeing something different on the screen. Don’t laugh, but it was almost like I was watching a movie. During that fugue I was unaware of the passing of time. When I roused myself I found only a few minutes had passed, but amazingly I had the entire plot of a sci-fi thriller completely lined up in my head. Then it was just a matter of putting it down on paper and editing it. (Yeah… “just.”) The process took about a year.
Finding a house that would take such a controversial novel proved to be a challenge though, and it wasn’t until some time later it was eventually sold to a small house, now defunct, God-bless-their-incompetent-hearts. Once the publisher assumed room temperature, the rights were returned to me, and a year or so ago I completely revised and re-edited it, putting it up on Kindle and CreateSpace, where it’s doing very nicely, thank you. In the intervening time I wrote and sold a series of thrillers, plus for three years I taught fiction tracks at writers conferences in the Southwest. But then all the stars aligned when my uber-agent Chip Macgregor began marketing my latest novel — the first of my John Brenner suspense/thriller series. In April of this year it was picked up by WildBlue Press, and I know it’s going to soar.
So I had some success early in another genre, then saw everything fall apart, and now, after several years in a dry season, I’m making a comeback. Which brings me to the thing I’ve been wanting to say to writers: I’ve been asked if I’ve ever come close to giving up on the dream. Admittedly, sometimes, the line between throwing in the towel and coming up with one more killer sentence can be vanishingly thin. That’s then I tell those good people a story I once heard about Winston Churchill.
The time was the late fifties, and by then Churchill was quite elderly when he was asked to give the commencement address at Harrow School, where he had attended as a boy. The day came, and the auditorium was packed with students and alumni wanting to hear strong words of wisdom from the man who’d basically saved Britain during the darkest days the country had ever known.
Slowly Sir Winston took the platform. Then standing behind the podium he gazed out at the sea of faces, and setting his famous bulldog jaw he ground out these words: “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.” He fixed them with a gaze of iron. “Never.”
He said other things that day, but that’s the part of the speech everyone remembers. And it’s the bit of wisdom I want to tell other writers who are thinking of giving up.
Never give up.