Friday, October 15, 2010

Interview: Mystery Novelist Camy Tang

Novel: Formula For Danger
By Mark Young
Skin cream can be a killer business in novelist Camy Tang’s world. This writer’s mystery novel—Formula For Danger just released this fall— ratchets up tension for dermatologist Rachel Grant in her research to create a scar-reducing cream in a ritzy Sonoma, California health spa. Danger ensues when someone seeks two things: Rachel killed and her skin cream formula seized at any cost.

In Camy’s second mystery thriller—a “love inspired suspense” published by Steeple Hill Books—we return to the Joy Luck Life spa run by Rachel and her family. In this inspirational suspense, Rachel races to launch a new venture before competitors steal her secrets. Break-ins, shots fired, and repeated attempts on Rachel’s life makes for a thrilling page turner.

Amidst this turmoil, a strained relationship with Rachel and her father only makes matters worse. Conflicts with her father force Rachel to define her own understanding of God. Does He care whether she lives or dies? Must she prove herself to Him to gain His love? Another man, Edward Villa, steps into Rachael’s life as a friend and business partner. However, as she draws closer to Edward, Rachel becomes confused as this man seems to grow colder as events unfold. Her world begins to topple.

Camy’s writing style—as her web sites advertises— is romance with a kick of wasabi.” What is wasabi? Camy answered this question when she appeared on this blog last April. She returns today to tell us a little more about her mystery-writing journey.

MARK: Camy, thanks for putting up with more of my questions. Something caught my attention even before I started reading your opening chapter. The dedication reads, “To Danica and Cheryl. I thought I could never find two people as sick and twisted as myself, but I have you two. Thanks for being my friends.” Is there a story behind this or should we just jump to the next question?

CAMY: Danica and Cheryl and I always tease each other that there’s something wrong with us, because every time we get together, we plot a character’s murder or disappearance or we figure out ways to create conflict and strife for a character. Then again, we’re writers—we’re not really “normal.” :)

MARK: Your first mystery novel, Deadly Intent, came out a little over a year ago. Last September, your second mystery, Formula For Danger, reached the bookshelves. Tell us what you’ve learned about the art of mystery writing now that you have two mysteries released? How much of a change has it been for you to switch from the earlier Chick Lit genre style of writing to these last two mystery novels?

CAMY: I’ve always been a huge fan of romantic suspense, so although I hadn’t written much suspense, I understood the genre very well. Writing romantic suspense has been a lot of fun because I can create more external conflict for the characters than I did for Chick Lit, where most of the conflict is internal or relational. I’ve learned more about red herrings and the different ways to introduce a villain.

MARK: Between the events of Deadly Intent, and your latest, Formula For Danger, I’m surprised the Joy Luck Life spa has any customers left—at least living. The Sonoma County resort spa seems to have its fair share of felonies. One more novel like this one and these spa employees will be collecting hazardous duty pay. Seriously, how do you manage to crunch so many dangerous circumstances into one tiny business?

CAMY: One of the reasons I picked Sonoma County as the setting for the spa is because although it’s a “small town,” it has a large amount of tourist traffic. The spa itself has a lot of people shifting in and out, which was the main reason the murder happened in the opening of Deadly Intent. Because Rachel’s research is in the spotlight due to the spa’s popularity, it became a target for greedy opportunists in Formula for Danger. In the world of fiction, the extreme publicity of the spa and the Grant family as well as the large amounts of people moving in and out of Sonoma is the “excuse” for the exceptional amount of crime the Grant family seems to attract, although I realize that Sonoma probably doesn’t have that much crime in real life. I’m working on another romantic suspense starring Monica, the third Grant sister, and I also hope to continue romantic suspense novels set in Sonoma County (although not at the spa), again because the tourist aspect of the area would enable me to create more mayhem.

MARK: Tell us a little about your main character, Dr. Rachel Grant. As we start this story, what are some of things going on inside this woman that makes her life so hard?

CAMY: Rachel is based off of several friends I have whose parents seem to never be satisfied with their accomplishments, no matter how hard they try. Rachel is constantly trying to please her father and make up for any “mistakes” she’s made in her job as dermatology researcher for the spa. The spiritual takeaway for this story is that we are magnificently loved by our Heavenly Father, no matter what the opinion of our earthly fathers, and our self esteem should be based on how God views us and loves us.

MARK: I always try to imagine connections between the creator (novelist) and the created (characters) as each story unfolds. I see a parallel between your own background and the main character’s. Similar to Rachel, you worked as a biologist researcher for a major pharmaceutical company and a biotech company before becoming a novelist. Are there other similarities between you and this main character?

CAMY: Rachel is a bit spacey at times, and so am I!

MARK: In the novel, Rachel reaches a point in her life where she must submit herself to God while walking by faith in very dangerous situations. Have you found this to be realistic in your own life? Have there been events you’ve faced in which you can look back and see God’s hand in those situations?

CAMY: I have to admit I haven’t been in many dangerous situations (thank God). But one of the key things I struggle with spiritually is constantly submitting to God in all different aspects of my life. I find myself coming back to this theme quite often in my novels. I can be a hard-headed chick and God is always teaching me new ways to submit my will, worries, and dreams to Him.

MARK: Bring us up to date on events since your interview with us last April. What have you been up to in the writing business?

CAMY: I recently spent a crazy and fun five days at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis in September. I taught a class on “Common Mistakes in the Genesis Contest” at the conference to help people avoid mistakes that could make them lose points in the Genesis contest (ACFW’s contest for unpublished writers) or really any other type of contest they wanted to enter. I also presented the 2010 Genesis contest award winners, which was a lot of fun. Right now since I have a couple book deadlines to meet, I’m not doing as much teaching and my schedule for my critiquing and book doctoring business, The Story Sensei, is booked until late March 2011.

MARK: Formula For Danger just launched last September. Earlier, you mentioned another mystery surrounding the Jo Luck Life spa. Where will this mystery takes us?

CAMY: I just turned in a proposal for another Sonoma spa book about Monica Grant. She becomes the target of a deadly stalker because of the high-class world the wealthy Grants move in. The book isn’t contracted (yet—fingers crossed) but if it is, I’m hoping it will release in late 2011 or early 2012. I also have a humorous romantic suspense releasing with Zondervan in October 2011 (untitled as yet) about an ex-Japanese mafia heroine who has found Jesus in jail and now wants to use her unique skill set to help people rather than breaking kneecaps.

MARK: Lastly, any thoughts about the publishing industry and changes you might anticipate on the horizon?

CAMY: I’ve read in some news reports that people are turning to fiction more than travel these days for their escape, which is good news for novelists! Also, as we see the exciting developments of the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other eBook readers, I think the publishing industry will subtly shift and change. I don’t think print books will go out of style anytime soon, but we’ll start to see innovative things in the eBook industry and the magazine industry as they take advantage of new technology.

Readers may find more information about Camy’s writing career at her web site or her blog, Camy’s Loft. She also provides writing services for writers. This information can be found at The Story Sensei, a fiction critique service she provides to help sharpen synopses and manuscripts at a reasonable price.


  1. Thanks so much for the interview, Mark!

  2. You are welcome, Camy. I wish you well on your next WIP.

  3. Mark, Thanks for bringing us this interview. And Camy, thanks for sharing with us. You're not nearly as dangerous as your books would indicate. : )