Author Camille Di Maio left a thriving real estate career to follow her passion and become a writer. Her latest novel, The Beautiful Strangers, is out now! We got a sneak peak of it before it was released. Here’s what we thought:
Review of The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio
The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio is a lovely historical romance novel that follows Katie Morgan, a woman who drops everything to follow the advice of her grandfather. He tells her to go to Cornado Island to meet a beautiful stranger. So, off she goes where she experiences a mystery, love, and a whole new part of her grandfather. Not only that, but the story alternates as the ghost with the exact same name as Katie has a story to tell too.
This has everything you would ever want from a novel. It has aspects of cinema, romance, and the paranormal. It’s a mystery and completely intriguing. Readers follow Katie as he learns more about her grandfather’s past, giving personality to the historical novel. It’s a beautiful read that will make you want to know more and more. Once you pick up The Beautiful Strangers by Camille Di Maio, you won’t want to put it down.
Q&A with Camille Di Maio
After reading her novel, we sat down with Camille and learned more about her. Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us a bit about yourself! What do you do?
Women wear so many hats, don’t we? I am so excited to be a full-time writer now, having recently given up a long real estate career. I do still help my husband run our business, however, and I continue to homeschool my children. We have four, though the first is now at college! We live near a beach (after many years of living in Texas) and I am embracing the slower pace that it allows.
You wrote a novel called The Beautiful Strangers that came out on March 5th. What is it about and why were you inspired to write it?
The Beautiful Strangers was inspired by a trip my husband and I took to Coronado. I’d been many times, but never as a writer. This time, though, I looked at the Hotel Del Coronado with different eyes – and I ached to write a story set there. I knew that one of my favorite movies – Some Like It Hot – had been filmed there. I also learned about its legendary ghost, Kate Morgan. Faced with these two intriguing histories – sixty years apart – I wanted to write a book that would connect the two and also bring in the elements of dreams and romance that my other books entail.
You have written other novels too! Can you tell us about your writing style and what type of books you like to write?
I am drawn to stories of love, sacrifice, and redemption. All of my stories have a romance, but I also explore love that is bigger than emotion – one that is deeply giving.
You used to have a real-estate career. What made you want to stop that and transition into writing?
We were living in San Antonio at the time and had become some of the top realtors in one of the largest cities in the country. It was exciting and lucrative… and exhausting. When my writing career took off (and I was still homeschooling all four kids), I knew that something had to go. So I asked myself – what did I most want to be when I was twelve years old? What did I dream of? Being a realtor or being a writer? Writer, hands down. I still give my husband some assistance in the business and we do like to fix old properties together. But now, it’s my side gig.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing process and how you create your novels?
My travels are inspiration for most of my books – and the ideas that are in progress. I learn about a place or a piece of history and it sits in my head for a couple of years. Then, the one that most intrigues me starts to emerge and I being to form a thinnest idea of a plot and characters. I start writing and figure it out as I go. Some of my favorite scenes throughout my books have come from the research I’ve done as I’ve written. I leave huge holes in the plot because the research often takes it in directions I never knew it could go. I like to write with the mind of a reader – what would I want to know? What turn would I want the story to take? Because I’m always a reader first and foremost.
What has been the biggest struggle for you as a writer?
Self-doubt is a constant battle and I know that it’s a common one among writers. Is the manuscript good enough? Is the writing tight enough? Will readers like it? Will I go crazy finishing it? So many questions. And yet, when that book baby is put out in the world and the lovely support and great reviews come in, it’s such a balm. Whew. Breath. It’s all going to be OK. Until I start the next story…
Is there a fun fact about yourself, unrelated to books and writing, that might surprise our readers if you were to share it with them?
I love board games and I’m especially good at backgammon. I will play to win, though I do know it’s all in good fun and we’ll be friends at the end. I promise.
What advice would you give to struggling writers out there who are trying to accomplish their dreams?
It sounds cliche, but just do it. You will not publish a book if you don’t write a book. Get to “the end.” Don’t overly edit along the way – there is plenty of time for that. Just finish it and the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel will be tremendous. Then you can go back and do all the work of tweaking it and querying agents and all that. But if you don’t finish it, you won’t have anything to edit. You won’t have anything to send to an agent.
What do you want readers to gain the most from your book?
I love for my readers to walk away with a knowledge of a piece of history they might not otherwise have known. It is the greatest compliment to me when reviewers say that my books had them doing additional research after reading it – that means the story really sparked their imagination.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I’ve just finished writing book five and am working through my agent’s edits. I have several more story ideas in mind and am playing with which one to begin on next. And I have lots and lots of travel planned for 2019. I am already packed for one of my trips – which is two months away! (Can you tell I’m excited??)
Do you have any final words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers?
A priest once told me that I’ll never “find” the time to do what I want. We need to “make” the time. You want to read. You want to write. There are any number of things you want to do. Don’t put them off until that unicorn day when you have nothing else to do and can finally get to those pursuits. Examine what you can sacrifice to give that priority.
The Beautiful Strangers is now available wherever books are sold.