Libraries were magical to me as a child. Every shelf contained so many stories, held so many people between the covers. I vowed to read all the books on the shelves, in an orderly fashion, moving through the alphabet. That didn’t happen. I peeked ahead and usually found something I couldn’t resist, particularly books about or set in the past. Fiction, history, biography, I loved it all. After I’d read a book, I would coerce my friends into dressing up and acting out the story. I taught the neighbourhood a lot of history that way.
My first efforts at writing were poems that my dad had his secretary type up, put in plastic sleeves and insert in a binder. They rhymed and usually scanned well-that’s the best I can say about them. I moved in to a journalistic phase that lasted through graduate school, writing articles, essays, editorials. And some song lyrics. It was after leaving graduate school that I focused on creative writing. I wrote short stories, mostly science fiction-probably because I’d just discovered the science fiction section in the library and was devouring the books.
But one story was inspired by my graduate work in medieval studies. The rejection letters regarding that story were much chattier and far more encouraging than I’d received regarding the science fiction pieces. Still, they were rejections. I was beginning to believe I would never get published.
I found a job as an editor of research publications at the University of Washington. But in the early mornings before donning my editor’s hat I worked on a novel. It wasn’t published, but editors and agents encouraged me to try again. Perhaps I was naïve, but it gave me great hope. I set to work spinning the historical short story that had received chatty rejections in to a novel, The Apothecary Rose .
The rest is history.
“Why Candace and Emma?”
I’ve often been asked, “If you’re Candace Robb, who is Emma Campion and why does she exist?”
Very good question, indeed.
I think of Emma as a twin sister who peers over my shoulder as I write. Every now and then she pokes me. Whoa, slow down, Candace. What do you think is behind that attitude? I shoo her away. I don’t have time to wonder. I have crimes to solve. One day she decided to go off and write her own books in which she explores the history behind the secondary characters in my crime novels, the ones based on actual historical figures, the ones whom she feels I’ve dealt with unfairly. At first I was irked. She was taking bows for my work. But she’s unearthed a fresh stream of ideas for my crime novels. So we’re cool now. In fact, most people can’t tell us apart.