[First published on May 8, 2011, the following questions and answers of Camille Noe Pagán reveal a “then” debut author whose writing created real life characters dealing with what really matters. Readers took note and Camille became a Bestselling author with her second novel, Life and Other Near-Death Experiences. And what “now”? A third novel, Forever Is the Worst Long Time publishes on February 7th, a few weeks away. You can Pre-Order it here!]
Journalist and former editor Camille Noe Pagan debuts as an author when The Art of Forgetting arrives in bookstores June 9, 2011. [However please note that from May 16th to June 1st, the author is donating $1 per pre-order of her novel to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which provides resources and support to service members, including those who’ve suffered brain injuries.]
In this two sentence synopsis, the book is described as:
A moving and insightful debut novel of great friendship interrupted. Can the relationship survive when the memories are gone?
“This page-turner with original, likable, empathetic characters and an identifiable theme will attract readers who enjoy intelligent novels about women’s friendships.”—Library Journal
“Fastpaced and engaging, The Art of Forgetting is deliciously observant and refreshingly honest. Camille Noe Pagán is a welcome new voice.” –Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club and Comfort Food
“Charming and original…a delightful story of friendship, love, and forgiveness while exploring the surprising ways lives are forever reshaped in the aftermath of tragedy.” –Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
“[A]n insightful exploration into the nature of friendship and self. This impressive debut is at turns funny, thought-provoking, and achingly sad. It is (dare I say it?) unforgettable.” –J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Commencement
The Divining Wand has scheduled a presentation/review of The Art of Forgetting for Monday, May 30, 2011. But, in the meantime, let’s meet the author through her “official” bio:
Camille Noe Pagán’s work has appeared in numerous national publications and websites including Allure, Cooking Light, Forbes.com, Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine, Reader’s Digest, SELF and Women’s Health. A former magazine and online editor, she lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with her husband and children.
Not very personal, is it? Well, that’s easily remedied as we get to know Camille, up close and revealing.
Camille’s Q & A:
Q: How would you describe your life in 8 words?
A: An amazing journey that gets better every day.
Q: What is your motto or maxim?
A: Always be generous.
Q: How would you describe perfect happiness?
A: Good health for myself and everyone I love. Several personal tragedies over the past few years have taught me that health really is the most important thing.
Q: What’s your greatest fear?
A: No surprise, something bad happening to my children. I can’t read books or watch movies about children getting hurt or dying–it’s like dumping gasoline on the lit match of my anxious mind!
Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A: I’m tempted to say a beach in the Caribbean, but the truth is Brooklyn. My family and I recently moved to Ann Arbor, but I lived in New York for the better part of the last decade and I’d rather be there than anywhere else. Great food, interesting people, endless things to do: it’s the perfect place, if you can forget that you’re living in a shoebox in order to be there.
Q: With whom in history do you most identify?
A: I can’t say I really identify with one particular person. I’d love to spend a day in the life of Colette, Anais Nin or another great female writer from the last century or so.
Q: Which living person do you most admire?
A: Right now, journalist Lara Logan is high on my list. I admire her for speaking out about her assault in Egypt earlier this year; in doing so, she’s started a crucial conversation about sexual assault and violence against female journalists and women.
Q: What are your most overused words or phrases
A: I hate when people misuse “literally” … but I say “seriously” all the time and it’s almost as bad. You’d think I was stuck in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, circa 2005.
Q: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A: I’d have an amazing singing voice. As it stands, I sound like Julia Robert in Pretty Woman, yodeling in the bathtub with her headphones on.
Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: I’d like to say my daughter, 3, and son, 5 months, but they’re really gifts I can’t take credit for. So I’ll say that my greatest achievement has been my writing career as a whole. I was the first on both sides of my family to attend college, and there was a lot of pressure to do something “useful” with my degree–think law or engineering. I’m so glad I ignored the “shoulds” and followed my dream.
Q: What’s your greatest flaw?
A: My obsession with getting things done–I’m an achievaholic. Which means enjoying “now” is a daily struggle.
Q: What’s your best quality?
A: My drive, or I guess you could call it ambition (see above :). If I set my mind to do something–whether it’s running a marathon, writing a novel or just figuring out how to make some complicated pastry–I almost always do it.
Q: What do you regret most?
A: I regret very little–I think most mistakes help guide us to where we’re supposed to be–but the few things I do regret, I could never put in print. 🙂
Q: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A: I wouldn’t mind having Nora Ephron’s career, but I can’t say I’d want to trade places with another person.
Q: What trait is most noticeable about you?
A: I’m 5’1″ (although you’ll rarely see me out of heels). When I meet people I know from the internet, they’re often surprised to discover that I’m, ahem, a little person.
Q: Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A: Hmm. I love Holly Golightly in the book version of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She’s a high-class hooker with a heart of gold–the original flawed protagonist.
Q: Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A: Who doesn’t love The Evil Queen in Snow White? So vicious! So vain! Without her, there’s really no story.
Q: If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A: I’m so not a sports fan, but I am a long-time runner and I’m so impressed by Paula Radcliffe, a British distance runner who won the New York marathon less than a year after giving birth. I’d love to have a conversation with her about her determination.
Q: What is your biggest pet peeve?
A: Wishy-washiness. I love the saying “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” I’d rather have an honest rejection than a half-hearted “maybe”.
Q: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A: Baking is a huge stress reliever for me. (Here’s my latest favorite. )
Q: What’s your fantasy profession?
A: Writing is really it for me, but if I couldn’t write a word, I’d probably be an interior designer or real estate investor. I love design, architecture, and real estate. Almost all of my favorite must-read blogs that aren’t about writing are design-related.
Q: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A: Kindness, curiosity and work ethic. Although loyalty is a close runner up.
Q: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A: Technically coffee isn’t edible, but I live on espresso with steamed milk–I don’t think I’d survive a day without it.
Q: What are your 5 favorite songs?
A: There’s no way I could pick five. I will say that I adore Nina Simone’s version of “I Shall Be Released” and I was crushed–crushed!–to learn that it was written by Bob Dylan. I like him just fine, but it completely changed the way I thought about the lyrics. Every once in a while, my husband will put on the Dylan version to tease me.
Q: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A: Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. I can’t adequately quite explain why, but this book is just magical for me–even more so than The Poisonwood Bible, which is another favorite. I read it almost every year.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you can believe it, I read this for the first time during the summer after college, when I was at Radcliffe for a publishing program. I remember life being so full of possibility and yet disappointment, too, and this book always brings me right back to that time.
The Bible. Religion aside, this was one of my earliest sources of story and it’s had a huge influence on my love of the written word.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. This is one of the books that made me the voracious reader that I am (which, of course, turned me into a writer). I remember cracking it open and being whisked into a whole other world–and to my delight, there were six more Narnia books to lose myself in when I finished!
Like Life, by Lorrie Moore. I love all of Moore’s short story collections, but this is the one that I’ve opened countless times to turn a bad day around. I love how she combines funny and sad in the perfect way.