Today’s interview is with Cameron Almeida, author of Ennui.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Finding a place to put each idea, then linking them in a way which made sense. The vast majority of writing my upcoming novel, Ennui, started with the phrase “ you know what would be really cool?”, and I learned to dial back to focus on writing a story. At one point I tried learning programming to make the ebook version literally shatter and break the fourth wall, but it was not possible without years of software experience. In terms of a story interacting with its reader, I have to make do with text…for now.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
The words we choose and the spaces between them have meaning. I noticed around six that different news channels were selective in how they presented a story to their audience. If someone’s American flag shirt catches fire by accident, it becomes a bold protest on MSNBC, and an act of terror on Fox. Language is meant to bring us together but humanity’s natural desires leave us open to suggestion. Books and movies work in a similar sense, words are used to manipulate our empathy. When you think about it, fiction makes you feel things that don’t exist.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Writing the more normal sections, because I had to focus on fundamentals rather than rely on wow factor. I had finished a giant mind battle scene but the entire project was short ten thousand words of the goal. Then I realized there were other humans in this story and humans are those things containing their own thoughts and motivations, which helped fill out the final act without feeling like filler.A matrix glitch inspired mental breakdown with s̶pe̷cia̶l̶ ̶e̶f̶f̵ec̴t̵s̵ and poop jokes? Easy. Two people being vulnerable with each other is another world entirely.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I have been raised by strong women and grew up without a father or male role model. Writing younger women is difficult as my natural bias tends to interfere and make them less believable. I ended up using this weakness as a plot device to stall for time, promising the reader such characterization was not me, when in fact it was. What are young women’s desires and fears compared to their mature counterparts? How can I give agency without them growing too powerful and overthrowing the story? To answer this, I browsed Tumblr to get a ground view of conversations and learned enough feminist theory to teach a class. What made it even more difficult is that Enniu’s main character starts out as an entitled man child who hates everyone. Pointing out how his preconceived notions were flawed while making sure none of the women were Mary Sue’s is a balance I hope to have achieved.
Does writing exhaust or energize you?
Writing exhausts me more than exercise, mainly because I cannot write with a feeling unless currently experiencing it. My default state is sarcastic, so digging deep for sadness and anger can be draining. Horror requires some extremely scarring movies late at night. Do not watch Hereditary alone, or with other people, or at all because it will mess you up.
Cameron is working his way into medical school and writes to help alleviate the stress of becoming a doctor. It doesn’t work, but if growing up in Southern California taught him anything, it’s that entertaining others is another way of helping them. When not hyperventilating, he swims, drinks fancy lattes, and hunts for excuses to use an encyclopedic knowledge of Pokemon.