Posts tagged Darlene P. Campos
Writers Asking Writers Questions | P. Curry & Darlene P. Campos



A few years ago, we created of series of in-house interviews called Authors Interviewing Authors, where our roster traded conversations in an attempt to get to know one another as well as provide some intimate insights into the life of a fellow writer. Last year, we expanded on our series, aptly renaming it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a five-week series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers.

The previous interviews from our WAWQ series are linked below.

So first things first, tell me a little bit about your upcoming novel, Heaven Isn’t Me?

A: I wrote the first draft in two months, from August to October 2018. Unlike with my two previous novels, I didn’t just rely on my laptop to write the draft – I wrote 85% of the first draft on my phone! Whenever I had a free moment, even if it was just five minutes, I’d whip out my phone and use the Google Docs app to write. Writing on my phone worked wonders in getting this book done quickly. I easily wrote 1,000 words a day using this method.

Heaven Isn’t Me follows fourteen-year-old Elysian Lecaro as she faces a diagnosis with anxiety disorder and tries to solve two mysteries: a) who shot her friends in a recent drive-by shooting and b) who kidnapped Gladys Richardson, her best friend’s older sister?

Heaven Isn’t Me — Front Cover Final.png

Were you in any way inspired by your own struggles with anxiety for this project?

A: Yes, yes, and yes. Elysian and I share some characteristics, though she is much bolder and braver than I am. When I was her age, I had anxious thoughts, but I didn’t realize they weren’t normal until I was older. For example, whenever a school dance came around, I was 100% convinced that if I didn’t find a date, I was destined to be alone for the rest of my life. It sounds ridiculous now (especially since I’ve been married for over a year and I’ve been with my husband for seven years!), but back then, I really believed it.

I had other thoughts like I would fail high school and never graduate, even though I was on honor roll and I ended up graduating a year early because I was so ahead in my studies. I remember my friends telling me, “Darlene, we love you, but sometimes you worry too much.” And they were right. So, in my first semester of college, I talked to a counselor and after several weeks of sessions, she told me I had anxiety, but not to fear since there were ways to address these irrational thoughts of the future, such as thinking of all the good outcomes of an issue first.

Because of my experience with anxiety as a teen, I knew I had to write a book with a character like Elysian to show teens of today that there is hope and healing for them. There is a lot of pressure on teens as they grow up. They’re trying to make good grades, they have crushes, they want to fit in, they’re getting ready for the next steps of their lives – so of course they’re going to worry about themselves and their future. They are not alone and they don’t have to feel ashamed of their anxious thoughts.


Mind sharing who and/or what some of your influences are?

A: Oscar Wilde, Sandra Cisneros, Barbara Kingsolver, Rebecca Brown, Lorrie Moore, Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, John Green, ZZ Packer, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth McCracken, RJ Palacio, Stuart Dybek, Jeannette Walls, and Carrie Fountain. There are others I’m likely forgetting. I went on vacation with my husband to Washington D.C. in June and we drove about an hour away to Baltimore where we visited Edgar Allan Poe’s house. His house is VERY small and the stairwells are so narrow, I’m surprised I was able to climb the steps. At the top of the house, there’s an even narrower stairwell that leads to Poe’s bedroom which includes his quill pen and his writing desk. I cried the second when I saw these items – I couldn’t believe I was looking at the exact spot where Poe wrote his legendary works. The moment felt like a pilgrimage. While Poe is known for his horror stories, I’m a huge fan of his poetry. Poe’s poem “For Annie” is one of my favorite poems ever.  

Likewise, I went on a weekend trip to San Antonio a few years ago and stayed in the historical (and supposedly haunted) Menger Hotel. Oscar Wilde stayed there back in 1882. The Menger has a special plaque with his name on the door of the room where he slept during his stay. The room is available for booking, but last time I checked, it was $300 a night. Anyway, right before I checked out of my room, I found his room and took a selfie with the plaque. I didn’t experience anything paranormal at the Menger, but I seriously hoped Oscar Wilde’s ghost would visit me so I could ask him for writing advice. Unfortunately, he didn’t haunt me.


I’ve noticed that you’ve been doing extensive research on the Holocaust and Jewish history and culture. Are you applying this knowledge to a future work?

A: Yes, but since I’m currently sending this manuscript out to agents and publishing houses, I don’t want to say too much about it.

It’s based on true accounts from Holocaust survivors I interviewed plus accounts I learned from the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of other Holocaust survivors I couldn’t interview since they have passed away. I used the accounts along with my own fiction-thinking brain to create this novel.

That’s all I will say for now.


Any other ideas you have in mind for future works?

A: I’m revising my fifth novel right now, which I also wrote in two months (April to June of this year) by writing most of it on my phone. It’s about a fifteen-year-old boy named Matthew who wants to be a doctor, but since his mother doesn’t earn much money, he’s busting himself to get a good scholarship. He can sing well, and his friends tell him about a singing scholarship, which is great, except he has horrible stage fright AND he needs to write his own song for his audition, which isn’t his strength. Will Matthew finally get a scholarship for his medical school fund? Will he bomb his audition? Will he audition at all? Who knows? 

The title right now is Matthew The Riot, but is subject to change. Fun fact: it’s also a semi-sequel of my fourth novel.


I find it admirable how you always do such extensive research on whatever it is you’re writing about, especially in regards to different cultures. What motivates you to always be so in-depth with your research?

A: Simple – I LOVE to dive right into my research. I can read a thousand books, watch a thousand videos, and interview a thousand people, but it is not the same as experiencing what I’m researching. When I was writing my second novel, Summer Camp is Cancelled, the protagonist, Lyndon, is Catholic and I knew close to nothing about Catholicism. So, I went to Mass several times, learned prayers, songs, and talked to priests. I read books and watched documentaries and other informative videos (shout out to Father Mike on the Ascension Presents YouTube channel!). I also interviewed over forty practicing Catholics, but the best part about learning was being present in Mass, because I experienced Catholicism firsthand. I even went to a two-hour long Christmas Midnight Mass because Lyndon attends a Christmas Midnight Mass in the novel.

Additionally, SCIC has a character named Melody and she is deaf, and Lyndon’s father is deaf in one ear (just like my father). I interviewed people who are deaf to shape these characters and I read books and watched videos, too, but I also spent days with earplugs on to experience the silence. For Lyndon’s father, I spent days with one earplug. By diving into my research, I feel that I can properly capture who my characters are without making them seem like stereotypes or unrealistic. I worry about improperly representing characters outside of my own realm, which is why I want to be as accurate as possible so I do not hurt anyone’s feelings with misrepresentation.


What are some of your long-term career goals?

A: My ultimate dream is to earn enough money to give to charity and those who need my help without having to think twice about it. Ever hear about those anonymous millionaires who donate tons of money to nonprofits? I want to be one of those millionaires. Need surgery? I’ll write you a check, so you won’t have medical debt. You need your car repaired? Here’s $25,000 for you to buy a new car. Homeless animals at the local shelter need food? Here’s $50,000, get them dessert, too.

Okay, I’m getting carried away by my dreams, but wouldn’t that life be the best?


Would you be open to a film or TV adaptation of one your books in the future?

A: Of course! But they have to let me write the screenplay. If not, the deal is off.


Let’s say, you were banned from writing! What path would you take from there?

A: If I didn’t write, I’m not sure what I would do with my time. The longest I can go without writing is a few weeks and then I feel the withdrawal and get back into it. So, if I were banned from writing, I would write anyway, even if it could get me arrested. Then I’d write in prison, too.

Photography is another passion of mine, but it’s nowhere to close to writing. I also love to box and swim for exercise. I would easily give up my camera, punching bag and boxing gloves, and all my swim gear rather than my pen and paper.


Since you aren’t actually banned from writing, is there anything else you’d like to do with your craft besides penning novels?

A: I wish I could do something different, but novels are my specialty. I have had poems published in various literary journals in the past, but I can tell you with full certainty that I am not a poet.

I also wish I could write songs. My great-grandfather, Alcides Martinez, was a musician, songwriter, and a poet. He wrote songs which are still covered by Ecuadorian artists today. However, I sadly did not inherit his abilities.

Novels are it for me!

Darlene P. Campos’ Latest Novel is a Love Letter to Everyone Suffering With Anxiety



Writers are notorious for having mental health issues, most likely because we’re always in our own heads, constantly obsessing over the worlds, characters and scenarios we have created. Here at Vital Narrative, we are no different as a number of us advocate for and suffer with our own mental health issues, myself included.


As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, I felt it was important to share my experience reading Heaven Isn’t Me, the third novel from Darlene P. Campos. After completing my first read, I couldn’t deny how at ease I felt. There was such a calm in my spirit, because I felt seen and understood. In fact, it felt like she wrote it specifically for me. The story revolves around a 14-year-old girl named Elysian who discovers she is suffering with anxiety. The most poignant part of the narrative deals with the many stigmas surrounding mental health diseases in the form of Elysian’s family, who perceive it to be “all in her head.”

I started to read the anxiety pamphlets. They said the condition was common and it wasn’t anything to feel ashamed about at all. The typical symptoms were worrying, panic attacks, endless fears, trouble sleeping, and a lot more. t wasn’t me being weird. None of the emotions or attacks were my fault. It was anxiety. I had finally found the answer to what was wrong with me, and for some reason, knowing the answer made me feel normal.
— Elysian Lecaro, HEAVEN ISN'T ME

I was about 25 before I began to discuss my mental health issues openly, and since then, I’ve been a champion of others revealing theirs, because I see the impact and empowerment that comes with realizing you aren’t alone. These afflictions convince us that there’s no one else struggling with the same thing, even though we know it isn’t true. That’s why it’s important that we stay vigilant about treating these issues, but also help rid the world of the stigmas that come with them. 

Darlene’s novel is going to save a lot of lives. When you consider that even though anxiety and depression are treatable, but 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment (according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report), it becomes clear that this novel could serve as the caveat that drives teenagers and adolescents to seek treatment and not fear that which ails them. Despite the fact that the dialogue about mental health is finally coming to the forefront of mainstream media, we must remain attentive and sympathetic to the needs of those currently dealing with these illnesses.


When I asked Darlene about what led her to craft this novel, she said:

Around the time I started thinking of an idea for my third novel, I was having the worst panic attacks, depression, and anxiety episodes of my entire life. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 19 or 20, but as a younger adult, I noticed I would worry about almost everything and I would catastrophize all the time like ‘If I don’t find a date to the dance, I’m going to die alone,’ etc. So, I knew I needed to write the book I needed when I was younger. HEAVEN ISN’T ME is fiction, but there are real-life scenes sprinkled throughout, especially Elysian’s anxiety attacks. Those are the same attacks I had when I was her age. My mission with this novel is to let young people know that it’s okay to seek professional help.
— Darlene P. Campos

If I had come across these words as an adolescent, life would’ve been so much easier to navigate and I wouldn’t have spent so many years trying to hide myself and my affliction. Words can’t express how grateful I am for Darlene and her novel, which I’m sure will help ease the minds of us who feel alone, different or flawed as we cope with anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, substance abuse and the plethora of disorders stemming from mental health illnesses. I’m proud to say Heaven Isn’t Me will release through Vital Narrative Press later this year.


Take a sneak peek at part of the cover below.


To my fellow mental health sufferers, continue to stay strong and seek help when you need to. If you are a young person in need of mental health resources, visit the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Gregory Hedgepeth is the editor-in-chief of Vital Narrative Press. You can follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Feel free to follow on all three. Or maybe just two. Yeah, two’s probably good — he’s not that interesting. Gregory Hedgepeth is also the author of MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT SUNRISES, THE YEAR THAT ANSWERED and A COLLECTION OF ECHOES. BUY THAT SHIT.

Writers Asking Writers Questions | Darlene P. Campos & P. Curry


Last year, we created of series of in-house interviews called Authors Interviewing Authors, where our roster traded conversations in an attempt to get to know one another as well as provide some intimate insights into the life of a writer. This year, we expanded on our series, aptly renaming it Writers Asking Writers Questions and turned it into a six-week series involving established authors as well as new, unpublished writers. 

DARLENE: You have a book that's about to be released - what emotions are you feeling?

P. CURRY: A wide range of them. Part of it is sheer disbelief; I really can’t believe this is finally happening. I’m also feeling a bit overwhelmed as now that I’m about to be published, I’m really not sure how to go about actually pushing and marketing my book. I even have a few questions in the back of my mind that are scaring me. Like….is this thing going to crash and burn? Is it even ready yet? Will people love it? Will people hate it? Could it become a bestseller? Could it be “discovered” and turned into a worldwide phenomenon? There really is no way to know.

Going beyond all of that, I am very happy and excited. For years I’ve been telling people I’m a writer but up until now haven’t really had anything to show for it. It truly means the world to me to finally have a book on the way. I know I still have a long way to go before I get to the point I wanna be at in my writing career, but this is a definite step in the right direction that I feel will open many doors of opportunity for me.


If you were hungry and couldn't cook for yourself, which character in your new book would make the best chef? 

 A: Well this is random, LOL, but it would likely be Demeter. One major element of this character is how she loves cooking. In particular, her cooking is everything to her. She stands at the stove with a smile, concealing the turmoil which goes on within. I suggest you read my book if you wish to know the whole story behind that. Just saying.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

A: You know, I’ve attempted many different things. Cooking. Art. Photography. Graphic Design. Barbering. And a few others. Now, mind you, I did and still do enjoy all of these things, but only as hobbies. I’ve briefly worked in all of these fields and it was like, the minute it became a job, I either lost interest or realized I just wasn’t cut out for it. And yet, the whole time I was doing all of that, writing showed itself to be my true talent time and time again.

 That being said, foolishly enough, it was a talent which I ignored for the longest time. Going all the way back to elementary school, teachers, family members and various others would shower me with praise over my writing and I just shrugged it off each time. In particular, I remember one English teacher in high school who routinely pushed me to get into poetry competitions, join fiction writing programs and even recommended me for a summer writing course with a prestigious author (I can’t remember who it was). Each time he asked, I just said no thanks. And yes, I now HIGHLY regret blowing all of that off.

 I continued to be “eh” about writing until my second year of college. This was when two very pivotal incidents happened. The first was when I walked in late to my U.S. History class towards the end of the semester, only for the professor to be all “Well there he is!” It was then everyone cheered for me and upon asking what happened, she proceeds to tell me that, in her thirty-plus years of teaching, my final essay was the best paper she had ever read. The second was when another teacher accused me of plagiarizing my paper. I was called into the English Department and everything just so she and the department head could check over my sources to make sure I didn’t copy anything, only for the two of them to be stunned when they saw I didn’t plagiarize a single thing. Suffice to say, it was then when I finally realized I should probably take the writing thing more seriously.


What's your usual writing routine like?

A: I’m not sure I could say I have one. At least not a healthy one. Beyond being my profession of choice (even though it’s not paying the bills yet), writing is also my escape. Given that my day job is in a field that’s not at all related to writing, at the end of each day, I’m pretty much hyperventilating over the fact that I’ve spent my entire day not writing. So the minute I get home I immediately get on my computer and start typing my fingers off.

Granted, I’ll admit this may have had something to do with pressure. After all, I was really eager to get either Calliope of Atalan or something else I was working on published and/or noticed. I may develop a healthier routine now that I don’t have that dark cloud hanging over my head. In particular, I greatly enjoy spending time at cafes. Something about coffee, music and a baked treat really gets my creative juices flowing.


If you could go on a writer's retreat with any author, who would it be?

There’s quite a few actually. Harry Potter is one of my all-time favorites as well as having some influence on Calliope of Atalan so of course I’d love to spend time J.K. Rowling. Another book I drew inspiration from was Akata Witch, so Nnedi Okorafor would be another choice.

akata witch.jpg

Let's talk movies! Who is your favorite screenwriter and why?

A: You know, this is a bit of a tough one for me to answer given that when it comes to movies, who’s acting, who’s directing and/or who’s producing all take priority to me over who’s writing. The writing process for a film or TV show is much different than it is for a novel. With a book, the writer is also the actor, the director and the producer. It’s up to them to tell the story, give a convincing performance, create the image and keep the idea and presentation of it under control.

With film and television, the writer only has to tell the story. Not to say this makes them less important of course, but there’s a distinct difference. I’ve seen numerous films and shows which had a good story that was ruined by terrible acting, cinematography and/or production. On the other side of that coin, there’s also a lot of films and shows out there with horrible stories but the acting, cinematography and/or production are fantastic enough to mislead the audience into thinking it’s a good story.

I still have a lot of admiration for screenwriters, so I’m in no way trying to speak down on them here, but I feel that when it comes to good screenwriting, the actors, directors and producers are just as important in bringing that vision to life. After all, if Calliope of Atalan were ever to be adapted into a movie and/or television series one day, I wouldn’t want just anyone to direct, produce and/or act in it.


If you had the chance to write an episode for any TV show, past or current, which show would it be?

A: I would love to write an episode of Black Mirror. I really gravitated towards that series in particular because I frequently find myself feeling disturbed and/or uncomfortable with a lot of modern technological advancement, so it’s good to know I’m not at all alone there, lol. One recent digital innovation I’ve felt particularly disturbed with is the whole “Alexa” thing, so if I was given an offer to write a script for a horrific satire of that item, I’d jump on it in a second.


Are any of your characters based on real people?

A: Yes, quite a few of them actually. I have a lot of experience with women who have been through a lot in life and yet resort to taking out their anger and depression on others; Demeter in particular draws influence from that. Upon rereading and revising, I noticed that I subconsciously drew from my own high school experience when writing a lot of the teenaged characters that Calliope interacts with throughout the novel, and I’m not sure if I can say that’s a good thing or not. Pan is essentially a walking satire of patriarchy and toxic masculinity, especially in the black community, so I know more than a few individuals who are just like him. Brutus on the other hand is a combination of just about every “fuckboy” type I’ve ever met in my life, lol.


What's a goal you hope to attain in your writing career?

A: I have a long list of goals, but one of the most important ones is to have some sort of impact, especially in regards to representation. As a minority myself, I’ve grown quite tired of being limited to certain outlets in order to see faces that look like mine. I’ve always been drawn to works that fall under the umbrella of speculative fiction, and until very recently it was quite rare to have well-rounded, three-dimensional and sufficiently humanized depictions of not only black people, but also non-black POC, members of the LGBTQ+ community, religious minorities, people with disabilities, people of size and neurodivergent individuals as well in such works. And really just in general.

In recent years, we have been moving in the right direction. In the arenas of fantasy, science fiction, superhero/comic-related material, horror, supernatural, alternate history and what have you, I’ve seen a marked improvement across the board. But there’s always work to do. I want to be a soldier in this revolution.


Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Honestly, start small. To elaborate: I began work on Calliope of Atalan: The American Dream in 2014. Very early in the process, I would momentarily post excerpts of it on my old Tumblr, and managed to come in contact with Greg and the Vital Narrative through sheer dumb luck. He liked what he saw, words were exchanged, and I was signed to the roster the next day.

Now, personally, I think I just got VERY lucky here. I had no idea what I was doing, and had I never spoken with Greg, I’m pretty sure that the moment I finished my first draft I would have just naively submitted the manuscript to Penguin or something, only to give up after getting my rejection letter, even though I already knew full well they only publish like five percent of the books submitted to them.

Instead, I was found by an independent publisher who liked what he saw and was willing to give me a chance. The editing and revision of my novel was a long and arduous process that lasted for nearly three years, but after all this time I can honestly say it was worth it. Had I sent my novel to a major publisher, they likely wouldn’t have said a thing about why it was rejected. Greg and Sacha both took the time to painstakingly review it so I would know exactly what to fix. I ended up actually learning even more about writing in the process. Even if it may take some more time for me to reach a wider audience, I am truly thankful for this experience and to be apart of this team.

Long story short, don’t sleep on the independent and small-name publishers. With Vital Narrative, I found a team that was more than willing to thoroughly and personably work with me on my project. Much better than having to deal with a team of editors from afar who would either reject me without a word and/or drastically change things in my work without my consent. Besides, just being published alone is valuable experience, even if you don’t become J.K. Rowling overnight.

Darlene Campos Discusses Struggle With Anxiety and Depression In New Interview


SCIC Front.jpg

Darlene Campos was recently interviewed by Let's Fox About It Media and revealed her personal struggles with anxiety and depression and also hopes to feature a character with the same issues in a future publication.

I [just] finished reading ‘I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER’ by Erika L. Sánchez. The protagonist, Julia, has depression and anxiety and it was so refreshing to see a main character with these traits. I connected to the book a lot, and I aim to do the same with future characters. Mental illnesses shouldn’t be taboo. They’re a real and important subject to address and literature is a great way to do this.

You can read the rest of the interview here and purchase her second novel, Summer Camp Is Cancelled, here.

Darlene Campos Reveals Interviewing Over 60 People for 'Summer Camp'



Darlene Campos recently spoke with Book Riot about Summer Camp Is Cancelled and revealed interviewing at least sixty people in preparation for her second novel.

I did have to do tons of research on children who are deaf, the 1990s, and Catholicism. This research consisted of reading several books, articles, watching informative YouTube videos, and conducting interviews. I interviewed over 40 people who were either devout Catholics or lapsed Catholics. Additionally, I interviewed over 20 people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Jessica Flores’ YouTube channel was a BIG help with research on deafness, too. Reading books and articles an watching videos are a great way to conduct research, but interviewing people is my favorite part because I get real, personal responses.
— Darlene Campos

You can read the rest of the interview here and purchase Summer Camp Is Cancelled here.

Authors Interviewing Authors | Darlene & D.A.



DA: Your second novel is about to be released to the public - what does that mean to you?

DC: It feels surreal to have a second book! Ever since I was a kid, I just wanted to have a book published. Having two out soon feels like my dream of being a published novelist is still going strong.

DA: As a creative sometimes we go through the highs and lows. How do you maneuver through the constant worldwinds of life and still create?

DC: That’s a great question. The thing about life is that it can be thwarted at any time. We have a daily routine, but sudden changes come up when we least expect it. It’s important to remain level headed during a whirlwind to make good decisions. However, it’s also okay to have a breakdown every once in a while. Writing is an awesome way to jot feelings down and just let it all out.  Being a novelist with a publishing house contract means projects still need to get done, so even when my life is extremely stressful, I have to keep on writing. A plus side about writing is that you can make your own world where everything goes your way – I think that is why I’ve always used writing as a coping mechanism.

I’ve always used writing as a coping mechanism.
— Darlene P. Campos

DA: What has been one of your highlights of your writing career thus far?

DC: A lot has happened in my career ever since my first novel, Behind Mount Rushmore, came out last year. I’ve had interviews, won an award, landed a spot on a literary radio show, etc. But out of all these cool accomplishments, the best moment was when a reader reached out to me on Twitter to tell me, “Behind Mount Rushmore is my new favorite book.” That moment overshadows everything else.  

DA: If you weren't writing, what do you think you would be doing?

DC: I’d be wishing I was a writer! I can’t imagine being anything else.

DA: With this second book, what do you help people gain from it?

DC: I really hope the perspective on those who are deaf changes for readers after they encounter this book. There’s this huge, skewed idea that those with different abilities can’t do anything and that’s completely NOT the case. My day job is in education and I’ve worked with students who deaf, blind, etc. and their work has always been equal to or better than students without these different abilities. My father has been deaf in one ear since childhood and he’s a doctor. That’s the most important lesson of the book - just because someone is differently abled, it doesn’t mean that person is lesser abled in any way.


DA: What's a normal writing session like for you? How do you prepare? What usually happens?

DC: When I’m not distracted by the internet (hah!), my writing is pretty productive. For novels, I usually start by outlining the characters rather than the plot. It helps to know what a character is like, because I can figure out how the character would act in a certain situation. That makes the plot a bit easier to write. For example, readers familiar with Behind Mount Rushmore can guess very well how Jay Eagle Thunderclap would act if he locked his keys in his truck, because they already know his colorful personality.

My biggest goal is to quit my day job and write full time.
— Darlene P. Campos

DA: This book is geared towards young adults. What books were influential for you at that age?

DC: There were many, but the ones I can remember off the top of my head: Buried Onions by Gary Soto (an author who is very important in Summer Camp Is Cancelled by the way), To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and pretty much everything in R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series.


DA: What was the most difficult part about writing this book?

DC: The hardest part was the research on Catholicism. I’m not Catholic nor was I raised Catholic, so my knowledge of Catholicism was basically nothing when I started writing. However, I interviewed several practicing, lapsed, and former Catholics who provided me with tons and tons of knowledge. I visited Catholic churches, read lots of books and watched many videos starring priests sharing their knowledge. By the time I finished researching, I felt like I could probably be confirmed as a Catholic myself!

DA: What are some of your goals for your writing career?

DC: For now, my biggest goal is to quit my day job and write full time. I know it’s super hard to get to this point, but a lot of writers have gotten there and I’m sure I can as well if I work hard enough to expand my career. Another goal is to have a movie produced. I’ve already written one film script, so I have a story set for whoever wants to pick it up.

DA: As a woman of color, how important is it to tell stories from your point of view?

DC: To be honest, I feel that all stories are important and I don’t think that my point of view is any more or less important than another person’s point of view. It’s true that certain people have greater credibility for certain subjects, though, yet everyone has a right to their opinions and feelings, even if we don’t agree. I’m sure there are some screwed up people out there who think my perspective on certain subjects doesn’t count or doesn’t matter only because I’m a woman, a minority and/or both. And whoever those people are, I have just three words for them: go to hell.

Darlene P. Campos's second novel, Summer Camp Is Cancelled, is available now for pre-order and will release on August 3rd. Her first novel, Behind Mount Rushmore, can be purchased here. You can purchase D.A. Alston's first novel, The Unlikely Tale of the Royal Elite Squad, by clicking here.

Darlene Campos Reveals Why She Included Selena On Her Spotify Playlist


Earlier this month, we shared the playlist for Darlene P. Campos' Summer Camp Is Cancelled, featuring 19 songs inspired by the book. Those songs were selected by Darlene herself, and below, we feature the reasons she selected those songs.


Pearl Jam – Even Flow

I was born in 1991, but I grew up with two older siblings who would constantly play top hits of the 90s. Hearing my siblings play Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, etc. was a daily thing. Since Lyndon is a middle school kid in the middle of the 90s, I was pleased to make him a fan of the songs I grew up with and still listen to often. “Even Flow” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Smashing Pumpkins – Today

I’ve been a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins for so long, I remember when Billy Corgan had hair! This song plays on a radio the day Lyndon introduces Melody to Fernando, her crush and his enemy. Lyndon loves this song, but definitely not on this specific day.

Cypress Hill – Insane in the Brain

My brother has loved Cypress Hill for a long time. He’s the one who introduced me to this band. I’m not a fan of rap, but there are a few rap artists I like and Cypress Hill is one of them. As I wrote SCIC, I went on YouTube to find 90s playlists to get me in the writing mood. This tune came on randomly and I started dancing in my chair! Additionally, I thought Lyndon and his friends would like this band because they are Latin artists, something that was just getting started in music at that time.

Stone Temple Pilots – Plush

This song plays as Lyndon dances with Melody. They dance together and in a split second, Lyndon does something that makes him feel extremely embarrassed. Read the book to find out why!

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Soul to Squeeze

This song has an important role in SCIC. Like I said above, read the book for the full

Pearl Jam – Black

Lyndon says this song is one of the saddest songs he’s ever heard. This song really stuck with me throughout high school when I felt lonely due to a couple of unrequited crushes. It’s such a deep and sad song that I always find it hard to listen to without a few tears flowing from my eyes.

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

This is probably THE most defining song of the 1990s. So, of course Lyndon and his friends would love it!

Smashing Pumpkins – Cherub Rock

This song is another Smashing Pumpkins classic. Since Lyndon is a fan, he adores this song as well.

R.E.M. – Drive

This is another important song in SCIC. I chose it as the background music because the beat of it begins quite ominously which perfectly fits the situation Lyndon finds himself in.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge

While this tune is about the effects of drug addiction, I thought it was about loneliness when I first heard it as a middle schooler around Lyndon’s age. It does certainly highlight feelings of isolation though and Lyndon experiences this a lot throughout the novel.

Vicente Fernandez – Por Tu Maldito Amor (For Your Damn Love)

This is the ultimate breakup song sung in Spanish! Grandma Raquel, Lyndon’s grandmother, is known to blast Vicente Fernandez while she completes tasks around the house. I’m sure she has blasts this track at some point! It’s also the song Javier, one of Lyndon’s best friends, suggests as a serenade to Melody.

Vicente Fernandez – Hermoso Cariño (Beautiful Dear)

This is a cute song for a child. It basically talks about a child being a precious gift from Heaven and it’s one I can picture Grandma Raquel singing to Lyndon, her beloved grandson. She might be fierce and mighty, but she loves her grand baby.

Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing

Another 90s hit!

Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun

This song was HUGE in 1994 when it first came out. Since Lyndon’s story takes place from 1993 to 1994, this amazing hit would definitely be part of his life.

Ron Gutierrez – I Have Loved You with an Everlasting Love

Lyndon says this hymn is his favorite hymn to sing during Mass at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church. While this version is a jazz rendition, I’m sure he’d love it!

Mr. Mister – Kyrie

This is a song Edgar Perez, Lyndon’s father, plays when he attempts to “fix” his old grill. Though it’s a rock song from the 1980s, it has religious tones to it and could be counted as a worship song. Maybe if Mr. Perez plays it enough, he can skip Mass one Sunday, but Mrs. Perez probably wouldn’t let him.

U2 – Gloria

U2’s Bono is a devout Catholic, so it’s no surprise that he writes Catholic themes into several U2 songs. This specific song features a beautiful chorus sung by all the members in Latin. It sounds like a Catholic Mass with rock music! Since Father O’Brien is from Ireland, it seems appropriate that he would be listening to this song when Lyndon approaches him for advice.

The Cathedral Singers – Angels We Have Heard on High

Lyndon mentions singing this song during Christmas Mass 1993. There are many, many Christmas songs, but something about this one gets to me every time I hear it.

Selena – Bidi Bidi Bom Bom

Though this song is never mentioned in SCIC, I can bet Lyndon hears it sometime in 1994. It’s about a woman describing the way her heart palpitates (the sound of her heart goes ‘bidi bidi bom bom’) when she sees her crush walking down the street. I can imagine Lyndon hopes Melody feels this way about him.

Summer Camp Is Cancelled will be available everywhere books are sold on August 3.

Official Soundtrack for "Summer Camp Is Cancelled"


We asked Darlene P. Campos to curate a Spotify playlist for her book, Summer Camp Is Cancelled and she selected 19 incredible songs featuring R.E.M., Cypress Hill, Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

SCIC Spotify Front.jpg

You can listen to the entire soundtrack below or on Spotify.

Summer Camp Is Cancelled will be available everywhere books are sold on August 3.