This is my stop during the blog tour for The Girl on Camera by Morgan Dun-Campbell. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 6 till 26 August. See the tour schedule here.
By Morgan Dun-Campbell
Age category: New adult, Adult
Release Date: March 14, 2018
Reality TV is about to get real…
“Are you ready to win the heart of the nation? Compete with seven other contestants for the cash prize? Change your life forever?”
Twenty-six-year old Rory Stevens is thrilled to be selected as one of eight contestants for new reality show: The Retreat.
However, on the second day of filming – during a televised broadcast from the show’s host – all power shuts off with no explanation: leaving the contestants, quite literally, in the dark.
Completely stranded, it is now up to Rory and her seven companions to figure out what is happening.
And then one of them disappears…
For fans of Naomi Alderman, Dave Eggers and John Marrs.
He leans forward again, and shakes his head. ‘I knew this would happen.’
‘That you couldn’t go through with this. And you see, this is your problem. You’re acting as though you need to make some grand gesture, because this,’ he jabs his finger down on the tablecloth, ‘this is the risk. You and me, moving in together. And you can’t handle it. Because you never take risks. You just keep your head down, hope for the best. You’re scared of getting out of the comfort zone, and you always have been. All this talk of doing something spontaneous, seizing the moment – you know what? It’s all bullshit. I know you. You’ll attempt to try something new, maybe go to a cookery class on your own where you have to share a mixing bowl with the person next to you, and in a couple of weeks or so, when you’ve gotten bored of trying to find a new hobby, you’ll call me. And we’ll have wasted a perfectly good evening right here, right now. This is a Michelin restaurant, you know.’ He opens the menu again, scanning his finger down the options. ‘The mushroom risotto is supposed to be delicious.’
I can’t take this.
‘David. Please. You aren’t listening. Nobody is, that’s the point.’ I draw my chair out noisily, people from other tables glance over momentarily, before resuming their conversations. ‘I feel like I’m being suffocated. And if you can’t take me seriously, then we shouldn’t be together at all.’
I am gathering my handbag, when to my alarm, he reaches over and seizes my arm.
‘Rory. If you really are being serious, then I hope you remember this moment, over the coming weeks and months. We have a good thing, here. I can’t guarantee I’ll be there for you if you end up sorry for what you’ve wished for.’
‘I’ll be fine. Please let go of me.’ I steel my voice, waiting for him to let go.
His eyes darken, and he presses his lips into a thin white line.
‘Fine.’ He promptly lets go. I gather my handbag, brush strands of hair away from my face.
‘I’m sorry, David. I know you think this is just some momentary freak out, but it isn’t,’ I tell him. ‘But I’m sure you’ll make someone else very happy.’ He slowly shakes his head, then points at me, a strange smirk on his face.
‘Remember this moment. You’re always running, dear. Too scared to take a risk.’
By the time I get back to my flat after hailing a taxi, the emotions of the night have caught up to me. I pace the room, David’s words fresh in my mind. Never before has it felt so like a cell.
Too scared to take a risk? It wasn’t the reaction I’d expected from him at all.
I make myself a mug of Earl Grey, then sit at my laptop. Has it always been so quiet? The ticking of the wall clock is my only company.
I check my emails.
And there it is again. That one, tantalising message, staring at me from my inbox.
Bored of everyday life? Dream of being rich? Famous?
My mouse hovers over it. Of course, it could easily be a Trojan virus. But so what if it is? Isn’t that a risk that I am taking, David?
I click on the email.
THE RETREAT: A REALITY SHOW WITH A TWIST
Big Brother? Too tame. I’m A Celebrity? Outdated. What do we want? A cutting-edge new show to push the boundaries!
In five weeks, Channel 10 will be broadcasting our brand new show The Retreat live to the nation – will you be the one to seize the opportunity of a lifetime?
Eight contestants, four male, four female, will be carefully handpicked and taken to our secret location. The experience will include group tasks for the contestants – which may result in punishments or rewards – and a cash prize of £50,000 up for grabs – as well as earning the heart of the nation.
Do you dare to audition? Can you entertain an audience? Have you got a game-plan for the cash prize?
Auditions are being held in London on the 25th of September, as well as the 1st of October in Manchester the following week: click below for post code and directions.
DISCLAIMER: Boring people need not apply
There’s a video link, too. Caught up in the moment, I go ahead and click on it.
At first the screen is black. Then there is the scratching noise of a match being struck across the sandpaper edge of a matchbox, and an orange flame flickers on screen. Two slender fingers with purple nail polish are illuminated by the glow. The hand moves forward and a stunning woman’s face comes into view, with high cheekbones, light blue eyes and white blonde hair. She wears dark purple lipstick to match the nails.
‘Guys, I’ve got a secret,’ she whispers, and the flame flickers some more. Her eyebrows are raised high, and her breaths are short and fast. I assume frightened excitement is what she is going for. ‘But I haven’t got much time,’ she carries on, and she looks to the match for a moment. ‘This is the hottest show around and word about it is catching on fast. We are ready to make television history. We just need you.’ She is so mesmerising, I get that impression radio DJs are always trying to perfect, that she really is speaking just to me.
The flame is getting ever closer to her hand.
‘Are you ready to win the heart of the nation? Compete with seven other contestants for the cash prize? Change your life forever? This is a once in a lifetime chance. But you need to be in it to win it. Ever felt like spicing up life?’ I think of the spiced candles rack. ‘Are you ready to take a risk?’ Now I’m getting goose bumps. ‘Great, cause we’re waiting for you,’ I almost expect her to finish the sentence with my name. ‘So hurry up, before it’s too –’ just when the flame is almost touching the skin of her thumb and index finger, she blows out the match. A second later THE RETREAT appears on screen in white, and flickers, lines and blotches covering the screen, like an old-fashioned film reel.
So here I am. Filling out an application.
As I say, and as David agreed, I don’t take risks.
But there’s a first time for everything. After all, what have I got to lose?
You can find The Girl on Camera on Goodreads
You can buy The Girl on Camera on Amazon
- Tell us about your writing process. Do you aim for a daily word count, page count, or a couple of scenes each day?
In terms of the writing process, I think the most important thing is to keep things ticking over. Some days you might write 4,000 words, other just 100. Writing should be an organic process, and I feel that – for me personally – setting a rigid structure for exactly how much to write, each and every day, disrupts the nature of it. I have gone for days on end without writing, and then will suddenly find myself writing 15,000 words in a couple of days. It’s important to live your life in the moment, because experiences are always invaluable sources of inspiration – particularly when it comes to drawing out a character’s emotional reaction. So, although in the past, I have tried to make the process more systematic, it never seems to work. Writing is just too random: as is life. Maybe I am fortunate that I have been writing since childhood, so it’s a hardwired habit now. But, I would advise to let it flow naturally, otherwise your story could suffer.
- What gave you the inspiration for your book? Is it part of a series?
This is a good question. I came up with the idea several years ago, when I was just thirteen. So it’s tricky to say what sparked the inspiration at the time. I know I’d watched that year’s Big Brother (fortunately I don’t watch it now), perhaps a movie set in the woods also left a strong impression? Often my ideas come to me subconsciously, there’s no clear external source. For example, for my current novel, the premise came to me, quite literally, in a dream – which has never happened to me before. I woke up, acknowledged it was a really interesting idea, and quickly jotted it down. Over the years, I’ve accumulated several novel ideas, trying to make them as imaginative as possible, and this is one of them. It’s a story I’ve been drawn to time and again, in-between working on other literary projects, because I still believe the premise to be fairly unique.
- Are you a pantser or a plotter? A bit of both?
Definitely bit of both. I think an author should certainly know the bare skeleton of the story – and should have an ending in mind (while also considering that this could change, depending on how the story develops). But, for me personally, I don’t transcribe each and every scene, because you need to give your characters room to breathe, and behave naturally – and you don’t always know what they will say or do, until you’re actually writing that scene. I always start with a premise, which is asking the question: ‘what if?’ So, in this case: ‘what if, you were a constant on a reality show, but something went wrong? All power shut off, and you were stranded without any idea as to why?’ Then there’s the protagonist. I always spend a while getting to know my protagonist, because they are selling the story to the reader. There are some exercises you can use, e.g. describing their bedroom, because the items a person keeps in their room says a lot about their personality. Then, they should always have some fear, or weakness, which they will have to face/come to terms with, during the novel’s climax. After that, I write the first few thousands words, letting inspiration come naturally. At this point, I’m generally mentally jumping ahead, and am brainstorming as I go along. But I do make myself stop, jot down the ending, have a clear idea of a beginning, middle and end, the ‘midway mirror moment’ halfway through the book, and what my protagonist’s main goal is throughout the novel.
- Do you prefer a certain type of music to listen to when you’re writing, or are you better with silence?
Often, I will assign a song to a certain book – I’m not sure if other readers do this! When I first start reading a new novel that has me gripped, I’ll play a few songs, until I find one that fits the book’s ambience, and then play that on repeat. So, for example: The Secret History is paired with Oasis’ Supersonic. I would like to add that I am not normally a fan of Oasis, and wouldn’t have thought these two would fit. But, for me personally, they are now associated with each other. Other examples: The Girl on the Train is paired with Sia’s Cheap Thrills (but not the version feat. Sean Paul!) There is something haunting about the musical accompaniment of Cheap Thrills which works really well with that book. Because I should add, the pairings rarely have anything to do with the song lyrics. I also associate the song Lucky Man by The Verve with Stephen King’s 11/22/63, because of the sense of wonder and adventure in both the song, and the premise of the book. (FYI, this is an excellent King book – and it isn’t horror, it’s science fiction). There are also songs I associate with my own books. And, yes, I listen to music when writing, though not always. But I find it helpful to have certain songs I associate with the story. There are three songs connected with The Girl on Camera, but I’ll just share one of them: the song Crazy by Seal – which is most commonly known from the film The Devil Wears Prada.
- What book(s) are you reading now?
I’ve just started Force of Nature by Jane Harper, after thoroughly enjoying her brilliant crime debut The Dry, which won several awards. I’m also reading literary novel The English Patient, which has just won the Golden Man Booker prize. I generally lean more towards commercial fiction rather than literary, although I did recently read literary novel Call Me By Your Name, as the movie adaptation was my favourite film of last year. It was very well-written, but personally I preferred The Dry, which was utterly compelling, with fully fleshed-out characters, and a genuinely unpredictable ‘whodunnit’. I also enjoy non-fiction, and Carlo Rovelli’s Reality is Not What it Seems is currently top of my TBR pile.
- Anything else you’d like us to know about this book or any others (past or future)?
Certainly! I always try to make sure the novels I am working on have a unique premise. I don’t want to follow a tried-and-tested formula for a certain genre, though I know this can work for others. So, I hope you will look out for my future novels, if you enjoy The Girl on Camera, because you should discover a unique concept each time. My novels are also always fairly grounded in reality, but with a twist: because I love the union of the familiar with the abstract. I would never set a book on another planet, for example. I think real-world scenarios are fascinating enough. Also, I consider all my books to be set in the same ‘universe’: that is, some characters may feature in other books, too. For example, with the novel I am currently working on, one of the main characters is a friend of a friend of one of the contestants from The Girl on Camera.
About the Author:
Morgan Dun-Campbell lives in London. She has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and Publishing, has participated in two Arvon literary writing courses, and has worked as an intern for numerous publishing houses, including Penguin Random House and Bloomsbury. The Girl on Camera is her first novel.
You can find and contact Morgan Dun-Campbell here:
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of The Girl on Camera. Five winners will each win a prize bundle including a signed copy of the book The Girl on Camera, a bookmark, and a small box of Celebrations. Giveaway is UK and US only.
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below: