Cami Murdock Jensen - Amazing Worlds and Magical Creatures
Cami Murdock Jensen grew up in Spanish Fork, Utah, fostering two passions: science and the fine arts. As a senior in high school, she won the Sterling Scholar in science and cloned DNA to compete on the state level. One year later, she wrote the score for her first children's musical, "Robin Hood: Tales of Ye Merry Wood", which she later published. She has since dedicated years to teaching, writing, composing, and directing, as well as studying the genetic defect that runs in her family. Cami has six amazing children who have battled leagues of demons and a husband who is a much better hero than any prince.
Please give us a short introduction to what First Earth: A Clean YA Fantasy Adventure is about.
First Earth is about Agnes, a sixteen year old with scars and chronic pain suffered in a childhood accident. She is offered an internship translating ancient texts and is excited to get out (she's mostly homebound due to her maladies). While translating an ancient tablet, she's attacked by demons and an evil necromancer, accidentally opens a portal to another earth and is catapulted into a new world filled with magic. She finds out she has magic, the only one from her earth and holds the latent ability to stop the demons and necromancer from stealing the magic of other earths and ruling them.
What inspired you to write about a sixteen-year-old who is the only hope for a magical world... and ours?
My daughter. As a teen she began displaying unique and troubling health problems. She would suddenly lose strength in her legs, go pale, and slump into a heap onto the floor. It took years to find a doctor who could give us an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. In the meantime, I wrote First Earth to keep her engaged and help her deal with depression. My main character is Agnes Ann Cavanaugh, the only wizard born on our planet since it was banned thousands of years ago. She survived an explosion as a baby and suffers from severe neuropathy in her legs and scars on her face. She accomplishes great things despite her handicaps, and never stops trying. My daughter was inspired by this character, who was based entirely on her, and pushed herself to get out of bed every day. She is now married, going to a local university, and writing her own stories.
First Earth is Book One of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Yes, it could be read standalone, but there is a series arc that readers will enjoy if they continue in the series. The other books are about her adventures on other earths, learning her magic and fighting bigger threats to civilizations and herself. Each book builds on her development as she deals with life challenges most teens face.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I've written musicals, direct youth and community theater, choreograph, and mom 6 wonderful kids.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
I like the quirky side characters. I have a sciftan in my Arch Mage series named Grimmal. A sciftan is an intelligent, talking, magical creature that can take the form of any feline. I love writing Grimmal. He is such a picky thug, who is totally loyal, but would never admit it. I also love Dame Maudine, the eccentric former warrior queen whose crazy ideas are relentlessly right. As a script writer, actress, and director, my characters are always speaking in their own voices and running about my pages as though I lived in their world.
Does the book contain a hidden message? What do you hope your readers will take away from this?
Indeed, I include themes that teens face growing up... self doubt, worries about appearance, loyalty and betrayal in friends, finding your own inner strength. It is my hope that readers find strength in themselves to cope with the challenges life gives them.
Agnes has a scarred appearance. Why did you create her this way?
Most of my children have struggled with health / mental health issues through young adulthood. While they may not have visible scars, most teens are struggling with some figurative scars. Agnes' scars are more visible and she has to learn to overcome her self doubt despite the outward appearance. My hope is readers are inspired to know they have so much to offer despite appearance or other struggles.
Tell us more about the book cover and how it came about.
I had a rough draft of First Earth I'd worked on with my one daughter to help her. In 2018, my husband surprised me for Christmas with an editor and cover artist. This actually pushed me to really get serious about self publishing. We have a family friend that is a brilliant artist that we contracted with. We've gone through several iterations together as we are both learning about cover art, but we love her style and artistic eye.
What did you have the most fun with when writing First Earth?
Battle scenes! As a theater director and choreographer, the fight scenes came alive in my mind, just like blocking / choreographing a scene.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you plan your books out before you start writing?
Combination of both. I know where a book is going and what steps it needs to get there. I often nail down character traits on paper, so I don’t write something unbelievable. Other than that, I am a pantser all the way. It feels almost like reading, only much more slowly. I can’t tell you how many times stories have taken me somewhere I didn’t anticipate. I once wrote a mystery for my children’s theater group with no idea who the ultimate thief was until the detective revealed her for me. It was such an exciting moment--even for me.
What are you working on right now?
Editing Fourth Earth and beginning the fifth book in my series. I'm also lucky to have my husband as a Business Manager and he signs me up for conferences, signing events and does my marketing. First Earth just hit #1 in Christian Fantasy and Teen & YA Values and Virtues ebooks
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?