Q&A: Camy Tang
Tessa Lancaster has a... unique set of talents. The kind of talents that earn you a position as a yakuza enforcer. The kind of talents that put you in prison. Now Tessa has served her time and is trying to move on with her life. She's got a new job as a bodyguard for a wealthy socialite and her young son. But her past isn't done with her and her family doesn't understand her conversion to Christianity and they don't understand why she can't come back to the yakuza. On top of that, her client's ex-husband is hunting for vengeance and she must team up with the lawyer that put her behind bars to protect her new client and her new life.
I love Stephanie Plum and The Joy Luck Club, and so I wanted to write a book with all the humor of both and with the action/suspense of the Stephanie Plum series.
I also love strong, capable heroines ... like from the TV shows Alias, Nikita, Covert Affairs, and the movies Tomb Raider and Resident Evil. I wanted to write about a strong woman with a heart for God, so I came up with my character, Tessa.
I wanted to give Tessa a reason to keep being involved in different crimes (so that I could have more books with her as the heroine) and the idea came to me that if Tessa had a shady past before coming to Christ, that past would provide good spiritual conflict as well as causing external problems in her life. I am a fan of The Sopranos—I don’t care much for the violence, but I like the more humorous parts of the series, especially those involving the family fiascos. I thought it would be fun if Tessa belonged to the Japanese mafia, and I created a Japanese version of The Sopranos, which makes it both exciting and funny, mirroring the feel of the Stephanie Plum series.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
I liked reading as a child, and I think that most writers are voracious readers, as well (although not all readers want to be writers, obviously). Every writer has a shelf-full of favorite books.
I loved the Little House on the Prairie series and A Little Princess, and as I got older I was strongly impacted by the rich world of Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey. I wanted to create a powerful emotional reading experience like Anne McCaffrey did for me when I first read those books.
Later, I fell in love with the wittiness of Jane Austen and realized how much I enjoy romance novels. Betty Neels and Grace Livingston Hill both strongly influenced my stories when I started seriously getting into writing.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
There’s no way my faith could not play into the picture. The only reason I’m even writing is because God has led me down this path.
I think I’m fortunate in that I had a very obvious word from God to be a writer. He told me to lay down my writing at one point because of my pride, and He made it very clear when He allowed me to take it up again. Because of this, I have no doubt that this is what God wants me to do.
It helps that I have friends who keep me accountable and pray for me. I couldn’t walk this journey without them.
I try to spend time with God every day. That time in His Word every morning helps me orient myself for the day. I also like to think it helps me to write better every day, but that might be just positive thinking.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I wanted to be a writer even when I was young, but I was more interested in seeing my name on a book than in writing for God. So He told me to lay down my writing—with no indication that at some point in the future I could take it up again. He wanted me to sacrifice it to Him like Abraham and Isaac.
It was a really difficult time for me, but I eventually did it, and went through college and the years afterward not writing a single word on my stories.
But then after I got laid off from one of my biology jobs, God gave me the clear green light to start writing again, and so I did. I've been writing ever since, and I'm grateful for the time away from writing, because it solidified for me that being an author is really what I want to do.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
I’ve noticed that I tend to have a theme through my books (so far, anyway), which is something I struggle with a lot—surrender to God. Complete giving of myself to Him, to His will, to His love, to all that He is.
I tend to write about characters who struggle to surrender to God in some way. I hope my books encourage readers toward that complete surrender to Him in their own lives, so that they can experience how absolutely beautiful God’s love for them is.
My favorite verses are Philippians 4:7-11 because they reiterate what I continue to strive toward in my life: complete abandonment to God.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.