Today we're talking to Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez, the authors of THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Bonita: I grew up in Sacramento, California. After college, I ventured to Los Angeles in pursuit of an acting career. Over the years, I’ve worked in both film and television, written an award winning short film, and run Nemesis Kitten Entertainment — my husband and my screenwriting/entertainment company.
Camilla: Aside from spending some early childhood years in Germany (my dad was in the service), I also grew up in Sacramento. And after getting degrees in English and in Theater Arts, I also moved to Los Angeles. I worked in a lot of different fields until finally giving myself permission to be a writer.
How and when did you become a writer?
Camilla: I've always wanted to be a writer. But my monkey brain would never let me sit down for long enough to finish much of anything after college. I really struggled with that paralysis. I went as far as trying a session of regression therapy to figure out why I wasn't able to write There a story there, but it didn't help with the writing.
The answer was actually pretty simple: I'd been juggling two full time jobs and pursuing an acting career on top of that. I had neither the time nor the energy to write as much as a shopping list, let alone a book.
So, I made some changes in my life. Cut back and focused. I started with a whole mess of reading. I'd always fooled around with journaling and writing short stories. But when I’d finally made my way through Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, I started putting word to paper in a new way — with purpose.
But while I read a lot of awesome books, I found very little that helped me cross that elusive line between wanting to write and writing.
And then, after a few years of digging in, it just sort of happened. The first project I finished and shared was a short film. THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER idea sprang from being on set with the dog stars and dog trainer of that film.
When THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER came to me (title and all), I sat down and wrote a little treatment and a short script.
Bonita: I never thought I’d be a writer and surely not a novelist. Though I’d always had stories in my head, my focus had always been on acting in, directing and producing other people’s work. It wasn’t until my screenwriter husband encouraged me to write my own scripts and get my own work out into the world that I entertained the idea of becoming a writer. I took the writing plunge and wrote my first full-length feature (unproduced). That was good training ground because I then decided to write a 9 page short film called Cantar. That was much harder. That's when I learned that writing is re-writing…and re-writing.
Fast forward a few years, Camilla and I were working on her short film, Dog Breath, when she pitched me the idea for THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER. I bit.
What genre do you write?
Fantasy and Sci-Fi are our genres of choice.
THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER is an urban fantasy with elements of science fiction and an edge of dark humor. Think Shaun of the Dead meets Supernatural with a healthy dose of Planet of the Apes.
How would you describe your writing style?
Since our background is in theater, film and television, our writing style leans more toward the cinematic — visual and action-packed.
Bonita: Along with our book business, I have an entertainment business to run (The IRS waits for no one). So, I usually write in the late afternoon and sometimes late a night. And since Camilla and I are a writing team, we have to work around our hectic schedules. We spend a lot of time on FaceTime (and a lot of frustrating time trying to get FaceTime to work). We do try to meet at least once a week. That’s when we work on marketing, go over chapters and split up work.
Camilla: Because I teach, I write very early in the morning and then in the afternoon and all weekend long. I plot and outline extensively before diving in.
What makes you different from other writers?
Bonita: As novelists, the fact that we’re a writing team is unusual. I don’t think we thought of it as unique when we first started. But then, other authors started asking us how we do it. It seemed very foreign to them. I think it was natural for us. We come from theatre. And in theater, you collaborate day in and day out. Teamwork, communication are key. If you don’t have that, then the show falls apart.
Camilla: I don't do anything different than any other writers. I always try to improve, so I probably reconfigure my process more than most — probably more than I should. What makes me different are my ideas, my way of looking at the world. And that's true for all of us — the contents of our minds are unique, the emotional and intellectual sum total based on our experiences. I think that's really the big magic of writing: You are the only one who can write your book.
Who inspires you?
Bonita: I’m heavily influenced by art; books, plays, movies and song lyrics all inspire me. I’d say my favorite storytellers are those that create beautifully flawed characters. Writers like Joss Whedon, Greg Rucka, Chuck Wendig, Maggie Stiefvater, and even Nathaniel Hawthorne. But Shakespeare is my all time favorite writer. I love anti-heroes, and no one writes an anti-hero like the Bard.
Camilla: The usual suspects in the old classics. For more contemporary work: Ray Bradbury, Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher — to name a few.
I just started listening the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy audiobook (performed by Stephen Fry). Is there anything better? Over time, I've watched or read or listened to every version of that story. And it continues to be fresh and fabulous and wickedly funny. I’d love for my work to have that kind of longevity.
My most recent discovery is Brian McClellan's Powder Mage series (I'm late to the party, but at least I managed to find parking). His world building is awesome, and his characters are fascinating and memorable.
How did you come up with the title THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER?
Camilla: The title was just there. It popped into my head as if it had always been there.
How did you come up with the plot for THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER?
Long hours, lots of coffee (Coke Zero for Bonita) and mountains of sandwiches.
Originally, we wrote THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER as a web series. Over one summer, we wrote 13 episodes. We fully intended on producing the project, but then, we realized our budget exceeded our means. So, naturally, we decided to write it as a novel series (because that's what you do, right?).
Who is your favorite character in (your book you want to talk about) and why?
Bonita: Xochitl (pronounced Socheel) is near and dear to my heart. She’s based on my life growing up as a person of mixed race. I’m half Mexican half Polish. So I get all the jokes. But really, many of her thoughts and feelings come from deep within my personal experience. Also, she says the stuff we’d all like to say and don’t. And, like Lucy, she’s kind of a badass. My other favorite character would be Imogen. She’s the most fun to write. She’s so out there, yet so loyal and true. I love her.
Camilla: I dig all of our characters, but Lucy is the one I spend the most time writing. I like Lucy's emotional life, which is at the same time very complicated and very simple. I love writing her fight scenes. And then there's Kai. He is a great deal of fun because he has this incredible energy, knows his own mind but is intensely connected to Lucy and Xochi.
What are you working on now?
We’re currently working on the third book in THE WEREWOLF WHISPERER series for a spring release. And, we’re about to break the story for an all-new urban fantasy series. So, keep an eye out in 2018!
Camilla: My other writing partner, Carol E. Leever, and I just released the first two books in a Young Adult epic fantasy series called OF CATS AND DRAGONS.
Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Bonita: To new writers I say: 1. Write and keep writing. Finish your story. It doesn't matter if it's good or not because you’re going to re-write it many times before it’s finished. And if the words don't come (an inevitability with writing), write down anything that pops into your head. 2. Keep inspired. Inspiration comes in many forms. So be open. Read; listen to music, watch movies or TV. Or if you're like me, jog. I get some of my best ideas huffing and puffing down the street. I’ve been known to stop mid-jog and text Camilla my ideas (She thinks it's hysterical. But it works!). 3. Relax. Don't bang your head against the wall if you're not spewing out 2,000 words a day.
Camilla: Keep reading. Find books you love and share them with others. Explore books and genres you are unfamiliar with. A new favorite story is just a click away. Take a chance.
Check out our website: http://www.werewolfwhisperer.com
Follow us on Twitter: @wwwhisperer @CamillaOchlan @BonitzMG
Instagram: camillaochlan, bonitamg
Bonita's Geeky Blog-Fu!: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/bonitamg
Camilla's Seething Brain blog: https://seethingbrain.wordpress.com