Friday, October 7, 2011

Interview Friday with Award-winning Author Camille Matthews

Camille Matthews, MSW, LCSW is a clinical social worker and writer who  specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, complex PTSD and attachment disorders. In 2002 she received her certification in the new field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) from the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association and established the Pathfinder Program in Farmington, NM where she treated adolescents, children and women victims of domestic violence using EAP. 

Ms. Matthews is also the author of the Quincy the Horse Books for children ages 5-10. She teamed with illustrator, Michelle Black to create the series. Their first book, Quincy Finds A New Home was published in 2009 and awarded a Mom’s Choice Gold in 2010. The sequel, Quincy Moves to the Desert  was released in August  2011.
Ms. Matthews has been an advocate for access to mental health treatment, an op ed contributor on the importance of psychotherapy and served on the Healthcare Task Force of Representative Louise Slaughter in 1993. Currently she is passionate about educating the public, especially parents and healthcare professionals, on the  effectiveness of EAP for children and adolescents who need mental health treatment.
Ms. Matthews earned a BA with honors in Government from Smith College in 1972, and a MSW from the University of Chicago in 1976. In 1977 She began work as a clinical social worker in a family service agency and entered private practice as a psychotherapist in 1983. She has worked for over 25 years with adults, adolescents and geriatric clients who are experiencing a range of mental health difficulties and life transitions.
Ms. Matthews was an adjunct professor at New Mexico Highlands University School of Social Work, Farmington, NM from 2000 to 2006 where she taught Advanced Clinical Methods, Human Behavior in the Social Environment and Multicultural Practice, and served as a consultant for Field Placement. Prior to moving to New Mexico she lived and practiced in Rochester New York from 1977 to 1998 where she was also an Instructor in Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine.
Ms. Matthews was born and raised in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky where her father was a law school professor. She was an only child and her favorite thing to do was visit her grandparents and cousins. She is a life long equestrian, avid reader and student of politics who blogs and is an op ed contributor.  She relocated to the Reading , PA area from Northwestern New Mexico in 2010.

VS: Camille, I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. I find lately my life has become really busy between family, kids in school and writing. What do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Camille: My writing is something I began after my human children were grown up and on their own. I have a husband, three horses and two dogs. The time spent caring for the animals keeps me centered and helps balance the stresses of dealing with today’s publishing scene.

VS: I have found many people have started writing after their kids are grown. What inspired you to write?

Camille: Quincy is a real horse and he had adventures early in his life that inspired me. I had the idea for the Quincy the Horse Books and thought about the stories quite a bit, but I never took the step of writing them down. During a period where I had to put my life on hold to care for my elderly mother, I was able to take that next step. Part of it was getting in touch with my own childhood again.

VS: Writing from personal experience is always a great inspiration. What is a typical writing day like for you?

Camille: I usually combine some actual writing projects like new work or my blog with tasks related to publishing and promotion. I spend some time reflecting before I write things down. Like many writers, I tend to hear the things I am working on as a voice inside. I write things down and then do a good bit of what I call polishing.

VS: Yes, many writers do have a voice or voice inside helping to inspire our writing. I love the fact you combine your writing projects. Many writers feel writing everyday means working on a story but that’s not always true. Is your family supportive of your writing?

Camille: My husband and adult daughter have been incredibly supportive and helpful in      many concrete ways.

VS: I have found many writers have short stories or even articles as their first publications. What was the first thing you ever had published?

Camille: The first book of the Quincy the Horse series, Quincy Finds A New Home.

VS: Wow, that’s great your first publishing credit was the first book in our Quincy the Horse series. Congrats! Can you share with us a little about your current book in the series?

Camille: Quincy Moves to the Desert is the second book in the Quincy the Horse series. In this story, Quincy goes on a BIG TRIP. He has doubts about the journey at first but his trusted friend, Beau, explains that in the West they will find “Trails as far as a horse can see.” Before he knows it, Quincy is soaking up the sights. He discovers different parts of the US and all the jobs horses do in different places. Quincy even begins to dream about his own possibilities and wonder what kind of horse he is and what job he will find in the desert. It is a story of self-discovery.

VS: I just received my copy of Quincy Moves to the Desert and after hearing your description, I can’t wait to read it with my two girls this weekend. Now Camille, what do you enjoy most about writing?

Camille: I enjoy the thrill when a new idea is revealed to me. I also love working with the illustrations. In a children’s picture book, the images are such an important part of telling the story.

VS: Yes, the illustrations really are an important part of a picture book. I always tell new authors to let the pictures tell 50% of your story and your words the other 50%. With that said, what is the most difficult part of writing?

Camille: When I am busy and facing deadlines. I have trouble concentrating and getting into the flow of writing. I have to go off to do something quiet and peaceful to counteract the stress and that is not always possible. I also find it difficult to deal with negative criticism of my writing. I get discouraged and take some time to bounce back.

VS: I know some writers work better with the stress of deadlines, but I am like you. I also agree it is never easy to bounce back after hearing negative criticism of your work. Okay, so what is the best writing advice you ever received?

Camille: Write about what you know and love. Don’t be afraid to self-publish.

VS: So true on both accounts. I know many writers fear self-publication, but sometimes it is the best route to take. With all that you do around your home and finding the time to write and promote, do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other jobs?

Camille: I was able to do that with my first book, but I decided to take a leave of absence from my psychotherapy practice while publishing my current book. The first one went very smoothly, beginner’s luck I suppose. The current one was more like herding cats!

VS: LOL…Okay, so after dealing with herding cats to get your second book, Quincy Moves the  Desert published; do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Camille: The third and fourth books in the series are in the pipeline. The third book in the series is, Quincy and Buck. It is about Quincy’s fear of trail riding alone in the desert. Beau advises him to get out there anyway and practice not being afraid. He has the idea of following in the footsteps of Buck, an experienced trail horse. Unfortunately, Buck does not like Quincy and turns out to be a bully as well.

VS: I look forward to your next book and love how it encourages children to overcome their fears, too. Camille, what do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

Camille: Characters readers can relate to in some way and something that makes the reader want to keep reading are by far my choice. I am a fan of helping children to learn new things but it is important to do this through the process of engaging them in the experience of the characters.

VS: I agree and you do a wonderful job of it too. Talking about characters, what would you say makes them believable?

Camille: I believe it is important for characters to have feelings that resonate with a reader’s real experiences, fears and hopes.

VS: Now the first book in the Quincy the Horse series won an award. Can you tell us which one and if you received any other awards?

Camille: Yes. I have received the Mom’s Choice Gold Award for Quincy Finds A New Home and the Tillywig Toy award.

VS: Congrats on both awards. I recently won the Silver Quill award for my picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw. I’m sure you were on cloud 9 like I was when you heard the news. Camille, before we go is there anything else you would like to share with us about being a “Writing Mama”?

Camille: At my stage of life, I have been blessed to have the help and support of my adult daughter. I think children of any age benefit when a parent is involved in something like writing and that they feel pride in the parent’s accomplishment. It is a wonderful way to be a role model. 

 Stories for Children Publishing will be touring author Camille Matthews and her picture books, Quincy Finds A New Home, published in 2009 and awarded a Mom’s Choice Gold in 2010 and the sequel, Quincy Moves to the Desert, which released in August 2011.

You can find out more about Camille Matthews’ World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Matthews and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Camille Matthews about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Matthews will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life.

The show will be live October 10, 2011 at 2pm EST.

Publisher: Pathfinder Equine Publications
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Places where your book(s) are available for sale: Amazon, B&, Assorted Brick and Mortar Bookstores, and

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