It’s that time we again. We have another awesome EXCLUSIVE interview!
This time we spoke to the co-authors of the fantasy/horror series The Werewolf Whisperer, Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez.
Photo credit:Janine Brügman
I myself have already read the first installment in this series and will soon be picking up the second! You will not be disappointed if you read this I promise!! And what’s stopping you?! The first part is available on Kindle right now!!!
Before I bored you with my newfound love for Lucy Lowell, the titular character, let’s hear from the authors themselves! Enjoy!
We at Jack and the Geekstalk are a team that like to wear our fandoms on our sleeves, what part of the geek/fantasy/fandom world do you like to delve into?
Camilla: I love Dr. Who, Sherlock and Supernatural. I think there’s a name for that 😉 Some years ago I was able to be a tiny part of the Dr. Who universe. I had a very small role in the spin-off film Cyberon — this was before the great revival of 2005 — and had a chance to be on a panel at the Gallifrey convention. That was fun.
I’ve also been an RP Gamer since high school. My game is first and foremost Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D then), but my friends and I also had a ton of fun with Call of Cthulhu. I love Neil Gaiman’s work and am really excited to see American Gods next year.
Bonita: I’m a huge Star Wars fan. A New Hope is my favorite film of all time. I still have the original score on vinyl LP my mom bought for my brother in 1977. It’s framed and hanging in my home office. I also love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly — pretty much all things Joss Whedon. Comics too. Right now, I’m totally digging Kieron Gillen’s The Wicked + Divine and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. Oh, and I too love me some Supernatural!
As aspiring writers ourselves we have the utmost respect and awe for anyone who makes their vision a reality. How did you get into writing?
Camilla: I’ve wanted to be a writer — always. I struggled with it for a long time: Writing but never finishing much of anything. Paralyzed in front of the page. Soul crushing stuff. But something changed a few years back (and I have to credit Heather Sellers’ book Page After Page). I finally understood that everyone else who is a successful writer has the same time allotment that I have — 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They don’t magically get more writing time. They just make it work. So I had to make it work. And also, I realized that nobody was going to give this to me. No matter how much I whined about it. I either write or I don’t write. And I love being completely in charge of my destiny like that. No one else to be responsible to. No one else to blame. With this changed way of looking at things came a flood of ideas. I finished my first script — a suburban ghost story called Dog Breath — and it all springboarded from there.
Bonita: I actually started out as an actor. Acting, directing, producing were always my focus (and still are part of my career life). My screenwriter husband encouraged me to write my own scripts, to get my own work out into the world, which I did. I even did the festival circuit with my short film Cantar. Then Camilla approached me with The Werewolf Whisperer idea. Writing sort of took on a life of itself after that.
How did you find each other and decide to collaborate on a project?
Camilla: Bonita and I share a lot of the same interests. We love all the same movies, TV shows and books. We are unrepentant geeks. We love our dogs and cats. Our L.A. lives paralleled each other in many ways. But here’s what did it for me: Bonita defended me fiercely to someone who disparaged one of my creative endeavors in an underhanded way. I was blown away by her loyalty and courage. I knew at that moment that I wanted to work with her on something. When the Werewolf Whisperer idea popped into existence, Bonita was my first call.
Bonita: We found each other a long time ago…In a galaxy far, far away. No, really we did college theatre together. But what’s really crazy is that Camilla used to actually sub for my dad’s high school Spanish class. We bonded over that tidbit. Cut to fifteen years later. We run into each other at the movies. But it took another year before we started working on The Werewolf Whisperer. Camilla had just finished shooting her award winning short film Dog Breath. That’s where she got the idea for The Werewolf Whisperer while watching the onset dog trainer. Originally, we’d intended to write the story as a web series and even wrote twelve episodes that summer. But our imaginations had exceeded our budget. So naturally, we decided turn it into a book series…because that’s the next logical step…right?
Our own superhero comic strip is simple and heavily inspired by existing properties, how do you come up with ideas for your stories?
Camilla: Ideas come from everywhere. I look at the world through the prism of stories. Images flash in my mind. Gut feelings lead me. Also, haven’t we all had the experience of walking away from a conversation wishing we had said something else, been smarter, braver, more together? You can write the “I wish I’d said this” out and use it in a story. Aren’t there times something makes you angry or upset, but there’s nothing you can do? A writer can use that. Aren’t there things you want that you can’t have? Places you’d like to go, but for whatever reason you can’t? Writers can have it all. In our own way. As long as we sit down and write.
Bonita: I think our stories are inspired by a lifetime of working in theatre, film and television. Books, plays, movies and even song lyrics can plant ideas in my mind. We pull from our lives as well as the world around us. As they say, write what you know.
The Werewolf Whisperer is a title that conjures images of fantastical and fairy tale-like characters and themes. What can you tell us about the series?
Camilla: That’s a great description! The Werewolf Whisperer is a contemporary, urban fantasy, but I would agree that there’s a fairy tale quality to certain corners of the story. The themes are layered, and I think readers can get a lot of different things out of the series. The Werewolf Whisperer world gets larger with each book, and I’ve heard from readers that it crosses genres in a good way. We write the books from multiple perspectives and dual timelines because there is so much ground to cover. But bottom line, when a mysterious virus starts to turn people into werewolf-like creatures, two women — one with the uncanny ability to control the creatures — join together to help those afflicted. But all is not as it seems. Not for our protagonists and not for a society coming to grips with a new world order.
Bonita: The Werewolf Whisperer is dark and funny, sometimes heartbreaking and always action-packed. This ain’t your grandma’s werewolf tale.
Do you take inspiration from any specific writers when penning your own stories?
Camilla: I love a lot of writers, from Lucy Maud Montgomery to Cormac McCarthy. But as I focus on developing my own craft, I turn to Ray Bradbury, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Bear and Neil Gaiman. I also deeply appreciate the generous advice on craft and business that Rachel Bach/Aaron shares on social media. I have recently started working with a critique group, and I find those meetings very uplifting and inspiring. Really pushing me forward and making me better though, that goes to both of my writing partners — Bonita and Carol. I am very fortunate to have such talented and visionary friends.
Bonita: Writers of all mediums (film, television, comics, books) inspire me; especially those writers who create layered complex character and whose use of language is distinctive. Shakespeare is my all time favorite writer. In my opinion, Hamlet is a perfect story with the perfect anti-hero (I love anti-heroes. Humans are imperfect creatures. It’s what makes us interesting). Of course, I love Joss Whedon. He’s an amazing storyteller who crafts beautifully flawed characters. As does, Greg Rucka, Chuck Wendig, Maggie Stiefvater, who are a few of the writers I’m currently in to. But my greatest inspiration would have to be my husband, Brent Simons. He’s taught me so much about the process of writing — of the all-consuming need to get the story out on the page. And that good writing starts with a good story. If you don’t have a good story, you’ve got nothing.
From Shakespeare to Star Wars, our team has a wide range of literary interests, but what is your favourite book of all time?
Camilla: The Little Prince, Call of the Wild and that still-out-of-reach (and maybe forever-out-of-reach) great book I haven’t written yet 😉
Bonita: It’s a tossup between The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Complete Works of Shakespeare.
If you could write a story as part of an existing franchise what would it be?
Camilla: I would love to work on a reboot of Xena, Warrior Princess. Highlander — that’s another property I’d love to be part of.
Bonita: Star Wars *mic drop*
We’re always looking for an inside scoop, so have you got any future projects in the pipeline you can give us a sneak peek of?
Bonita: We’re currently working on book 3 in The Werewolf Whisperer series. And just in time for the holidays, our novella, The Werewolf Whisperer: ¡Feliz Navidad! is free. Download it from Amazon Kindle or on Nook. And this December, it’ll be available as an audio book. Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” like werewolves.
Camilla: In addition to continuing with The Werewolf Whisperer, I am working on a YA high fantasy series with my friend Carol. The project is based on thirty years of our Dungeons & Dragons campaigns. It’s been such incredible fun bringing these characters and stories to life, and we can’t wait to start sharing them.
Lastly, all our followers like to know what films fill our top spots. What are your favourite films?
Camilla: Guardians of the Galaxy, La Femme Nikita, Chocolat, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Love, Actually.
Bonita: Star Wars is numero uno! Other favs: To Sir, With Love, Strictly Ballroom, The Five Deadly Venoms, Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, also Love, Actually, Enter the Dragon, Westside Story…the list goes on and on.
Bonus Question: If a live action movie was made of the Werewolf Whisperer, what actors would you choose to fill the main roles?
Camilla: This is a fun game, and I sort of don’t want to say because I don’t want to take away from the picture in the reader’s mind. I think if it were to come to the big or small screen, I would be so thrilled, but realistically we’d have no input into casting whatsoever. But this is what I could see:
Lucy Lowell — Anna Torv.
Camilla: Xochitl Magaña: I picture her, but I haven’t seen an actress that is her.
Bonita: I’m not sure. I’d like her to be bi-racial like me. Latina/Caucasian. Someone who has the physical stature of Michelle Rodriguez but looks more like Cameron Diaz.
Memo “El Gallo” Morales — A young Jimmy Smits
Miguel Magaña — I just saw a recent picture of Tyler Posey of Teen Wolf fame. He’d make a good Miguel.
Gabe Torres — Whomever we cast, he’d have to be a big dude.
Camilla: Hanna Khani is about energy for me. I get a Hanna vibe from Adrienne Barbeau or Gina Torres.
Bonita: For some reason, I always picture Famke Janssen as Hanna. But any of these women would be amazing!
Bonita: Col. Vernon Jones (Uncle Vern) — Lance Reddick. Fringe representin’.
Camilla: Rylan Errigal — The picture in my mind is of the marvelous Andy Whitfield, who left us so tragically soon.
Camilla: Imogen Friel — our wonderful friend, actor/producer and queen of geeks Stephanie Thorpe.
Camilla: Kai — I see glimpses of him, but it’s all in the movement. Hard to explain. I’d know it if I saw it 😉
Bonita: Kai is an anomaly wrapped in an enigma. He’s smart and fast and literally flips off walls, so I think we’d have cast a wide net to find the right actor.
Camilla: And finally, there is an important character coming up in a later book — I won’t say who it is — but when I think of him I see Tom Hardy or Manu Bennett.
Bonita: Yeah, Manu!
I think you will all agree that both Camilla and Bonita love what they do and their passion comes through in their writing. I look forward to reading more form these two and I urge any readers of this article to go out and get hold of a copy of The Werewolf Whisperer.
I want to thank Camilla and Bonita for giving us their time, it has been a joy to speak to them and we here at Jack and the Geekstalk look forward to the next project! Hopefully in the future we will speak to them again. Stay tuned for more updates!
For more info on authors Camilla Ochlan and Bonita Gutierrez and The Werewolf Whisperer series, check out their website http://www.werewolfwhisperer.com
Bonita’s Tumblr: http://bonitamg.tumblr.com
Camilla’s blog: https://seethingbrain.wordpress.com