Cameron Dokey is the author of nearly thirty teen novels. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
Q. What was it like growing up with authors for parents?
A. Actually, only one of my parents is an author, my father, Richard Dokey. All during my childhood, he taught school during the day (as did my mother, who was a kindergarten teacher), and wrote in the evenings after dinner. This was in the days before computers. Dad wrote things out in longhand, then typed them–via the two-finger method as he’d never taken a typing class–on this old Royal typewriter. He was pretty inspirational, actually. Incredibly disciplined and dedicated. He works on a word processor now, but he still types with just two fingers. Gotta love it!
Q. Your cats are named after Shakespeare characters, and your essay in Demigods and Monsters opens with a reference to The Winter’s Tale. Which Shakespeare play is your favorite?
A. True confession: I love pretty much all of Shakespeare so it’s hard to pick a favorite one. At the risk of sounding corny–maybe Romeo and Juliet? How could you not love a play where the guy says about the girl, “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright.” On the other end of the spectrum, I’m also a big fan of some of the more action-packed ones. Henry V. Richard III. MacBeth. Which you’re never supposed to say out loud, by the way. In the theatre, (I was an actor before I became a writer) saying that out loud is supposed to be bad luck. That’s why people in the business always refer to it as “The Scottish Play.”
Q. In “Why Do So Many Monsters Go Into Retail” you explain Percy’s encounters with monster retail. Do you like to shop?
A. Of course! But only for specific things–books, of course. Plants for my garden. I hate to break it to you, but I truly hate to shop for clothes. I think I want to be like Michael Kors. Always wearing the same thing sounds just fine to me!
Q. Most of your essay focuses on scenes from The Lightning Thief. Which of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books is your favorite?
A. It would have to be The Lightning Thief, I guess. As both a reader and writer, I always love the set-up. Riordan does such an outstanding job of creating an exciting new world in The Lightning Thief, at the same time he paves the way for the stories that will come. This is no easy task. It made me so happy as a reader–satisfied, yet ready for more.
Q. Your essay explains how most of Riordan’s characters have something to hide, whether it be their identities or their desires. Do you find yourself using this idea in your own writing?
A. Oh sure. I think so. I think I actually said in one of my own books that nobody shows their true face to the world all the time. (Now I have to go back and figure out which one it was!) Not that what’s being hidden needs to be bad, of course. Simply that we all pick and choose what we share with the world at any given time.
Q. Who is your favorite character in the Percy Jackson series?
A. That would have to be Grover.
Q. Your Once Upon a Time books are a series of retold fairy tales. What do you like most about reinterpreting classic stories?
A. There are a couple of things I love. One is going back and reading previous versions of whatever tale I’m about to re-tell. It was in this way I learned that, in the earliest versions of Cinderella, her father was still alive! Yet still the stepmother gets away with all that bad stuff. How on earth could any father allow that to happen? I wondered. That actually turned out to be the whole launching point for what eventually became my story, Before Midnight. Mostly, I just love pushing on stories a little bit. If you mixed things up a bit, where might you end up?
Q. Do you have a favorite fairy tale?
A. Well, it’s interesting I just referenced Cinderella because I think it would have to be that one. And before you ask, no, I did not spend my childhood as a drudge! I just so love the transformation that happens there. True love and perseverance rewarded. And speaking of the masks we talked about earlier–seeing through them to what lies beneath–and it turns out to be pure gold! Sigh …
Q. Which Ancient Greek story would you most like to retell?
A. There are a couple I’d like to work on. Cupid and Psyche. The unlikely romance that develops between Persephone and Hades. And I’ve always thought it would be interesting to write a version of the Trojan War from Helen’s perspective. That girl gets an awful lot of bad press.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. I’ve just finished a re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk entitled The World Above. It will release later this year.
Q. If you could tell us to read one book this year, what would it be?
A. Oooh. Tough one. My guess is you’re hoping for some contemporary choice. But my favorite book of all time is Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. I think everybody has an experience where they read a book and suddenly realize the way books can take you places you never thought you’d go. That was the one that did it for me, so of course I think everybody should read it.