Inaugural Interview with Bill Cameron

Bill Cameron Mystery WriterWe had the great privilege of talking to mystery writer Bill Cameron about his new young adult mystery thriller Property of the State (and we get to hear Bill read for us!).

Bill Cameron is the author of the Skin Kadash mysteries: County Line, Day One, Chasing Smoke, and Lost Dog. His stories have appeared in publications like Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Portland Noir. In 2012, County Line won the Spotted Owl for Best Northwest Mystery. His latest book is the young adult mystery Property of the State. Bill lives in Oregon, where he enjoys craft beer and bird watching.

You can listen on iTunes or Podomatic or listen now


  • We talk about YA stories that deal with real problems; the boundaries of YA for writers exploring darker themes and situations; and the sophistication of teen readers.
  • Bill discusses the tricky aspect of capturing the modern teen voice, especially respecting your teen characters (even if you’re an old fogey). The challenge of portraying adults who are working hard to help the POV character while showing his inability to sometimes recogonise their efforts.
  • Using personal experience (plus friends and experts) to create a realistic portrayal of the foster system, and balancing portraying the complexity and challenges of the foster system without turning the book into a polemic against the system.
  • How Bill develops a situation and the kind of character who will fit into that situation and how that character’s decisions drive the plot.
  • Bill’s path to published novelist: His first published book was the FOURTH novel he’d written. He started writing fantasy and sci-fi but has found his voice in writing mysteries.

County Line by Bill CameronON CRAFT

  • Bill’s drafting process: the different approaches to Psychological Suspense and Mystery, and how much plotting happens ahead of time.

Surprising tip: Even with outlining ahead of time, writers get moments of revelation.

  • Exploring character: autobiographies, NYT-esque profile approach, diary entries, exploratory scenes.
  • Research: when, how, and how much research Bill does. Also, experiential research—police ride-alongs to understand how police do their jobs and what they’re thinking, and Bill’s experiences with the foster system.
  • What Bill tells himself at the start of a new project: I may not know how to write the next book, but I do know I can finish one.”


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