This past July I took part in a written interview with Sonya of “A Lover of Books”. Before the interview could post, Sonya made a decision to retire from book blogging, which I fully understand. Book blogging can be intense! I figured I would share it here as Sonya put much time and effort into going back and forth with me, and pulling it together.
Sonya and I chat about having no idea what I’m doing, being a nature inspired poet, not intending to publish my poetry, how writing has been therapeutic, Earth dancing, and three positive words. Join us …
First of all can you tell me a bit about your latest book, ‘Words of Alchemy’?
Absolutely, Sonya! Words of Alchemy is a free verse poetry memoir that covers six years of my life, from 2013 -2019. Writing has been and is therapeutic for me, including writing poetry. When I began writing poetry in 2013, it was a way of processing life experiences, healing, and getting things out of my head. Words of Alchemy is a poetry collection of these events.
What do you hope readers will get out of this book?
It is my hope that readers connect with the content, causing them to laugh, shed a tear, or nod their head in agreement. If something I have written helps another to view a situation differently, opens their eyes or heart to a new way of experiencing life, or simply lets them know they are not alone, I am truly blessed.
Is this a book people can turn to when they need to relax or are after some inspiration?
Looking at feedback I’ve received, I would say yes to this. I think the best way to respond is to share some of that feedback.
“I immediately fell for Camilla’s story – relatable, inspiring – facing challenges, overcoming obstacles, and being a role model. In other words, a good person. A person who, among other things, fuels her creativity and capacity to give by immersing herself into landscapes – communing with the outdoors, shooting photos, and writing about all of it.
Words of Alchemy is her compilation of free verse poetry touching on these issues – a sincere and sensitive ode to life and to nature. Divided into alchemical sections – experience, perspective, lessons and growth – we take a seat next to our author for the Alchemy of Healing.
In Words of Alchemy, author Camilla Downs relays her story – powerfully personal and enlightening. Her words reflect a recognition of challenges and rewards, the natural world she is mindfully part of, consciously present, and admirably, ensuring she shares it with all of us.” – Bill Arnott, June 2020
“A beautiful testament to the love and dedication of a mother to her children, and her personal transformation using nature as a guide and companion. I was instantly transported to zen like mindfulness by the melodic prose in this beautiful collection.”- Michelle S.
“Full of beautiful, inspiring, thought provoking poems about love, nature, acceptance, joys, fun, mindfulness and gratitude. They really pick you up and make you consider your own life … It’s a feel good collection of poems that really will brighten your day.”- Lynne P.
For people like myself who haven’t really read much poetry would you say your book is a good starting point?
Yes. In my mind, I divide poetry into two categories, traditional and non-traditional (free verse). I personally struggle with traditional poetry, I just cannot wrap my mind around some of it. However, that’s also the case with free verse poetry. I’ve read some that I could not follow. With that being said, I feel my poetry is easy to read and easily understandable. I’ll also say that if someone doesn’t connect with mine, please do not throw out all poetry. Poetry is so very different. It can be deeply satisfying and moving. Keep trying different authors and styles.
What was the publishing process like for you?
Words of Alchemy was my fourth book to publish. I am now officially an indie publisher, under the imprint of Loving Kindness Books. WooHooo!!
Being that it was my fourth book, it was much smoother this time around. With my first book in 2012, D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance, I had no idea what I was doing. I literally figured it out as I was going along. Before writing the book, and during the writing, I did not let myself think about how it would be published as I felt that would stifle and delay the book being written.
I wrote the book in 3 months, then set out to publish it. Friends beta read the book, with some editing along the way. A friend connected me with a young man who has autism, D.J. Svobado, and who is also an artist. I felt his artwork would be perfect for the cover of the book, and he was thrilled to donate the artwork as I offered him a full page in the front of the book to share about himself and his business.
I got stuck when it was time to upload the book to Createspace (now KDP). At about the same time D.J.’s manager contacted me to follow up regarding his artwork. She wanted to know about the book and to read a few chapters. She also asked if I had someone that would be editing the book, doing the graphic design, and uploading the book. I told her that I was going to figure it out on my own as I did not have the money to pay someone.
After she read the chapters, she offered to do all of this for no charge as she was incredibly moved by what she read. It turns out that this was an area of expertise for her. The publishing of this book was unique. Everyone who had anything to do with the book’s creation, donated their time and skills. It was amazing and incredible the way it came together.
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry since 2013. That’s when I visited Fallen Leaf Lake in South Lake Tahoe, California. The beauty was quite overwhelming, bringing me to tears. As I drove home, I made several stops along Lake Tahoe, sitting to take it all in. While doing this, poetic words sprang to life. This was the beginning of a six year journey of being inspired by nature with poetic words, then later, inspired by life events. Here’s that first poem and a couple of photos from Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe.
(Fallen Leaf Lake – 2013)
As the sun’s rays dance upon you like stars twinkling in the night sky, so shall our souls dance upon this Earth.
As you are who you are with ease, so shall we no longer struggle to be who we are.
As you adjust to the World around you without struggle, so shall we go with the flow of life.
As you release your beauty, power, and love for us to enjoy and learn from, so shall we drop the facade of our bodies and identifying with materialism and what we’ve accomplished …
And so shall we become vessels of love, joy and peace.
(Lake Tahoe – 2013)
Was it always a dream to see your poetry published?
When I began writing poetry in 2013, it was therapeutic in that it helped me process life. I did not begin writing it with the thought of publishing it one day. I had no thoughts of publishing it until mid 2019 when I knew it was time to publish another book. I had planned on writing another memoir similar to my first book. Yet, my heart kept bringing me back to the poetry. When I finally listened and took a look at just how many poems I had written, I knew that was to be the next book.
Do you have a favourite place where you do your writing?
Just as long as I’m comfortable and wearing comfortable clothes, I’m happy. I like to sit on my couch, with my computer in my lap, with the sun shining in the windows, and a lovely view through my windows.
Do you have any other writing projects on the go?
Not at the moment. I have ideas brewing, adding the ideas to my notes to come back to when I feel I’m finished with my time off. I’m also participating in many author interviews and spotlights. These are fun and tough at the same time as many of the questions pin me down for solid answers. Definitely not an area of strength for me.
Do you read a lot of poetry?
I am reading more poetry. In the past, poetry was not a chosen genre for me. Having written a book of poetry, I’m more inclined to read a variety of poetry now. I am up for giving any style a shot and want to support new poets and indie poets. With this changed attitude, I’ve come across some lovely poetry.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I absolutely love going for walks, whether that be on a manicured walking trail in the city or a dirt hiking trail in the mountains. Taking nature photographs during these walks is a hobby I’ve been at for about 13 years. Reading is another activity I do in my spare time. There’s just nothing better than devouring a wonderfully written book, or expanding the mind and heart through a nonfiction book, memoir, or poetry. Here are a couple of photographs I took on recent walks.
(Scripts Wildlife Preserve – 2020)
Can you give me three positive words?
You. Are. Worthy!
Thank you, Sonya! Thank you for having me on your blog, thank you for your time and efforts in putting this interview together. Thank you for your kindness. All the best to you!!
Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of MeetingtheAuthors.com and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.
Words of Alchemy is the poetry memoir of a single mom who traveled through the ups and downs of life with reverence and reflection. This book is for those who are in need of uplifting, easy to read poetry that leaves you feeling comforted, inspired, and with a different view of how life can be lived.
In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt free-verse poetry memoir.
During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations.
Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.
Family Website: http://theteamtlc.com/
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
Meeting the Authors: http://meetingtheauthors.com/
Where to Buy:
Words of Alchemy: If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalized, signed book – free shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee): http://camilladowns.com/books/words-of-alchemy/
Amazon – Words of Alchemy: mybook.to/WordsofAlchemy
Amazon Author Central: amazon.com/author/camilladowns
All of our books: http://camilladowns.com/books/