We had the good fortune of connecting with Camille Di Maio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Camille, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Every parent knows that the art of balance is an important, but often elusive one. As a homeschooling mom of four, a top Realtor in my large city, and a bestselling author, I believed that a woman could “have it all”. I had a career, a realized dream, volunteered regularly at my church, and enjoyed plenty of time with my husband and kids. This constituted a perfect balance from my perspective, and it was glued together by caffeine and nights with four hours of sleep. In my early thirties, my body could handle all of that neglect, or so I thought. I was still at the age where we think we’re invincible. But not even a decade later, my long-term massage therapist gave me some worrisome news: I was showing the signs of being on the verge of a heart attack or a stroke. My husband and I realized that another cliche – “Life’s too short” was all too real and we had a serious talk about what our goals were. How could we live a more simple life and what was it that we really valued in the first place? Money? Or Peace? This shifted our perspective. We shocked friends and family by announcing that we were moving across the country, living near the coast, and drastically changing our business model. It was a financial hit, to be sure, but by downsizing to one car and choosing a house in a walkable area (half the square footage of our Texas home), we were able to do it. Our children resented the move at first, but within a few months, each one had individually told us that they’re glad we did it. Out were the deadlines and the schedules. In were the beach days and travels to visit extended family. We created a work-from-anywhere life long before Covid made it mandatory. We both still put in full-time hours – he in real estate investing, me in writing – but we do it on our terms. I don’t regret those early, crazy years. It became the foundation for us to be able to make these changes. The *key* was realizing that it had all been a path, not the destination. Now, balance is no accident. We discern every decision with “Is it simple?” and “Does it bring us peace?” We miss the mark now and then, but when it’s just a ten minute drive to put my toes in the sand, it’s easy to recenter.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
People always ask me why I chose historical fiction as my preferred genre to write. But I’d say that it chose me. My first book was inspired by the classic Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby”. It released in 1966, and my idea was to write about the characters (as I imagined them to be) when they were younger. That took me to the late 1930s. Liverpool. WWII on the horizon. Striving to make their story authentic, I dove into research without any idea how to do so, but I fell in love with the process. I found ways to weave interesting fact into the story. And I came to realize that across the years, we are all the same – we want love, security, prosperity, realized dreams. This became the foundation for all of my future books – I’d learn about a fascinating place or time and immerse myself in it until a story emerged that I wanted to tell. Becoming a writer was not an easy path. I counted forty-three rejections to my name before getting a “yes” from an agent. And I comforted myself only with the knowledge that it was far less than many. Jack London had a whole trunkful of letters saying “no”. I like to say that I am not a better writer than anyone else – I’m just more persistent. But more than that, I had to learn how to become humble. I can’t deny that part of my stubbornness to do this stemmed from years of bullying in grade school – and to show those kids (now adults) that I had made something of myself. The breakthrough came after a friend guided me into understanding that if I had the gift of writing, it was not meant for myself or my own glory. It was meant to be shared. As soon as I let go of old wounds and embraced that this was about sharing a talent I’d received, everything happened. The agent. The book deal. More book deals. And that’s what I’d want the world to know about my story and how it relates to their art. Your gift is not designed for vanity. It is designed to bring something good into the world. My stories are about love, sacrifice, redemption, resilience. They connect today with yesterday and teach us something we didn’t know. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about what we put forth. Our little efforts to improve human connection.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in a place that is just perfect for a writer of historical fiction – Williamsburg, Virginia. Visitors are often surprised that this little town has so much going for it. I’m ten minutes from one beach and twenty from another. We enjoy the roller coasters at Busch Gardens, the shopping at the outlets, and the many biking trails that are carved through tree canopies. Our culinary and coffee shop scene is exceptional. Mornings will often find me sipping cappuccino at Illy or eating crepes at Blue Talon Bistro. We’ve discovered barbecue that meets an exceeds anything we had when we lived in Texas. I write for hours on end at the eclectic Culture Cafe. Saturdays find me at the farmers’ market, which sits in the shadow of a building constructed in 1699 and designed by famed British architect Christopher Wren. During the school year, the average age of the town is lowered when the students from the College of William and Mary return. And then – the jewel. Colonial Williamsburg, the largest living history museum in the world. I have quite gotten used to the sounds of horse-drawn carriages and the noon-day canon firing. Seeing people dressed in Colonial garb shopping for produce at Trader Joe’s. The grounds are lush and immense, and the programming aims for a diverse immersion into yesteryear. Nearby – and I mean just minutes away – are the other two parts of the Historical Triangle – Yorktown and Jamestown. Each with their own parts of the American patchwork. And each with sandy beaches that bring serenity to a busy day out.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I love this! Yes – we are the sum of the people who have helped us along the way. I’d like to dedicate my Shout Out to my literary agent, Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agent in Solana Beach, CA. Every author goes through many rejections until that one person takes a chance on you. Jill did that for me and it was the beginning of my writing dreams coming true!
Other: Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/camille-di-maio
The two professional photos can be credited to Christina Orosco.