Cameron Stracher has written for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of the young adult dystopian novel, The Water Wars. In this interview, Stracher talks about how he became a writer, where the idea for The Water Wars came from, what he’s working on next, and a number of other things.
Alex C. Telander: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Cameron Stracher: Probably when I was twelve years old and it seemed like a good way to get out of doing the dishes.
Alex: Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
Cameron: A story about robots taking over the world. It was about two pages long.
Alex: Who were some of your influences?
Cameron: I like a wide range of writing – from David Foster Wallace and Martin Amis to Arthur C. Clarke and William Gibson to Flannery O’Connor and Jane Austen. I leave it to readers to decide how they’ve influenced me.
Alex: What was your first book and how did you get it published?
Cameron: The Laws of Return. I sent the first three chapters to my agent (Lisa Bankoff), and she called me the next day. The rest, as they say, is history.
Alex: What made you decide to write a young adult novel?
Cameron: I wanted to write something my son and daughter (who were twelve and nine) at the time would not find boring.
Alex: Where did the idea for Water Wars come from?
Cameron: I was out running and I had this visual image of a boy standing in a dusty road spilling a glass of water. The more I began to wonder who he was, the more the story began to grow.
Alex: Did it require a lot of research?
Cameron: A fair amount. There is a lot of smart non-fiction writing about water scarcity and management, and I tried to read as much of it as I could.
Alex: The cover is very unique and distinctive. Were you involved in its design at all?
Cameron: Thank you. I think it’s beautiful, but I take absolutely no credit for it. When Sourcebooks showed it to me, I said – “I love it!” That was my contribution.
Alex: What do you hope readers get out of reading Water Wars?
Cameron: First, and foremost, I hope they will enjoy it. Second, I hope it will make them think about the importance of water.
Alex: Is this a single novel, or is it the first in a series?
Cameron: You have to ask my publisher about that!
Alex: What other projects are you working on?
Cameron: I’m writing a non-fiction book about the 1970’s and the running boom, and I have several fiction projects in the works that I can’t talk about right now.
Alex: With your work in media, are you interested in writing for TV or the big screen?
Cameron: There was a time I was interested in writing screenplays, but I think I find it too limiting and too frustrating. I like the control that writing a book gives me, even if it doesn’t pay as well!
Alex: Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?
Cameron: Keep trying. Lol. Seriously, it’s a depressing world out there for writers. I think you have to write because you love writing, and ask yourself if you would continue writing even if you knew you were never going to get published. Don’t write for the market; write because you have to.
Alex: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Cameron: I love to run, and I try to get out on the roads and into the woods as much as I can. I also love to cook for my family, and rent good movies, and make popcorn with them.
Alex: Who do you like to read?
Cameron: That’s really hard to answer. I am a very broad reader. I like sci-fi, “chick lit,” “serious literature,” modern, American, British. I’ll read almost anything if someone I respect recommends it.
Alex: Do you see Water Wars or elements of it as a possible future for our world?
Cameron: I hope not, but the truth is at the present rate of consumption we will be desperately short of water in about 20-25 years. Let’s hope we wake up soon.