25 Years Ago Today: Mystery, Fantasy and Children’s Author Camille LaGuire

I’d like to welcome my guest Camille LaGuire. Camille writes mystery fiction, as well as fantasy and children’s stories, and has a fondness for writing anything with humor and adventure. Her stories have appeared in magazines from Cricket to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine to Futures Mysterious Anthology. Her thriller play, Slayer of Clocks, was performed to sold out audiences at the first Discovering New Mysteries Festival in 2007.

Camille, you sound as if you write about some really fun topics. What were you doing 25 years ago?

CAMILLE: In 1984 I had just graduated from the Clarion Workshop in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing, and I had a problem. I was just a baby writer when I got into that advanced workshop, and I had learned much more about writing than I could handle. Furthermore, I’m not really a fantasy writer, I’m a mystery writer.

I was so frustrated as I tried to write my first great fantasy novel. I could see clearly just how bad my writing was, but I didn’t have the skills to fix it. And I could hear the voices of the other workshop members in my head, criticizing every sentence.

So, I decided that what I needed was experience. I needed to have written a book – even a bad book – in order to write as well as I wanted. And to do that, I had to write something that would shut up the imaginary critics. Something they would hate, and I loved, in a dead genre, so there would be no question of it being publishable.

I wrote a swashbuckler.

It was fun and adventurous and had mystery and horses, and it was good enough to get me into grad school and get me some great personal correspondence from editors. But it was a swashbuckler and therefore not publishable.

Twenty-five years later, I’ve gone on to other things, but my swashbuckler has now found its niche online with electronic publishing.

Read more about Camille’s work on her web site and blog.

Check out her YA swashbuckler, The Adventure of Anna the Great, on Amazon. Here is a description: A young noblewoman dresses as a boy and becomes a stableboy in the royal stables, where she gets involved in the mystery surrounding a kidnapping.

Send My Free Storybook Valley Welcome Kit

Get a sneak peek into Stacy's romantic comedy series set at a theme park. Includes sample chapters, princess tips, interviews, and more. You will also be subscribed to the Staycation newsletter, filled with book news, surprise bonus content, and perks for readers.

Powered by ConvertKit
Stacy Juba's Characters At A Crossroads Blog


  1. Alex J Cavanaugh says

    Interesting way to begin!

  2. Darcia Helle says

    Camille, apparently your attempt to write a “bad book” worked well for you! Great story!

  3. “Not publishable”? Phooey! I’d read that right now! Who needs clean dishes?

  4. I really do recommend writing some things you believe are “not publishable.” I’ve done it a few times in my career, and I always end up taking my writing to a new level.

    (It’s also a lot of fun to do something you think others won’t approve of.)

  5. It really does sound like a fascinating book. Have Gun, Will Play also sounds like a great read. Can you tell us a little about that, Camille?

  6. Thanks, Stacy.

    I first wrote about the characters in Have Gun, Will Play in a similar exercise. I wanted to learn to write a screenplay, so I picked a familiar genre – the Western. It was about an outlaw girl who joins up with a gang of gunslingers to run the outlaws out of her home town. Mick was just the goofy young romantic lead.

    When I was done I realized that this would make a good mystery series… and that Mick would make a great narrator and detective. Because he’s always been a second banana, he’s genial and also reads people really well. Everybody (including himself, but not Casey) think he’s none-too-bright, but the fact is, he’s very bright. It’s just that he is also very eager to try out new things, and he’s perfectly happy doing stupid things as well as smart ones.

Stacy Juba