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Author name: Phyllis Staton Campbell

Please tell us a little about yourself. What makes you a #Uniqueauthor (or artist)?

I was born blind in Amherst County Virginia, the youngest of two sisters and a brother. We moved to Staunton, Virginia, when I was seven, where my sister and I attended the Virginia School for the blind. Reading has been an important part of my life, since I can remember. I sold my first short piece in the sixties, and have been writing professionally ever since. I have published six books, both in the traditional market place and self-published. In addition, I did a true-crime book, under contract to the family of the victim. My latest book is “Where Sheep May Safely Graze” inspirational. I’m currently working on a sequel.

 Please answer 12 of the questions/discussion points below.

What first prompted you to publish your work? Writing is, hard work, if enjoyable. I felt that that effort should be put into something to share with others, and perhaps bring some tangible reward to me.

As a disabled author how do you overcome the extra challenges involved with producing your work? I faced many challenges in the beginning. There were no computers, no braille aware devices, permitting ease in proofreading. The first piece I sold was written with the slate and stylus, meaning that the braille dots had to be punched individually by hand. I lacked the money for a proofreader, meaning that I had to work very hard, first doing the work in braille, and then painstakingly typing it to send out for consideration. Today, I feel I have few challenges after that.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Do you think the publishing world is disability-friendly? Like most things that can be answered with both “yes” and “no”. Some publishers are friendly, some not. The real challenge there, is knowing which. Some will claim interest and then say they’ve taken on their quota for the year. Have they? Others such as Barbara Brett of Brett, will go beyond the last mile for the disabled writer.

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? The public taste in books varies greatly. Study the market carefully before submitting to be sure that you’re meeting the needs of that publication.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Harry Potter, and we’d have pumpkin pasties.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I write three columns, so I do a lot of research. Years ago I wrote a piece on vampires, not the interesting ones in popular literature, but the real thing. Well, those who believed themselves to be real, and acted accordingly.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? It has been influential to all cultures, but I feel it is perhaps less today, because of TV.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Study your market and be persistent.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? A sphinx I like cats!

Which authors have influenced you the most? For my current series, Jan Karon, and Janice Holt Giles. For my early stumbling efforts, Lucy Montgomery, Gene Straton Porter. In other words, they’re tied to what I’m doing, and where I am in my writing journey.

What is your writing space like? My writing space was once a dining room with a door to the kitchen, and French doors on either side of the chimney, leading to the living room. My house is quite old, and when I sit quietly, I can feel the echo of all of those who have lived and died here.

Tell us about your latest piece? “Where sheep May Safely Graze” is the story of Pastor Jim, who was blinded serving in Iraq, and his wife, Amy. It tells of his struggle to adjust to his blindness, her struggle to adjust to her new role as his wife, and their struggle against the prejudice of the wealthy church where they both serve. They are further challenged when they go to serve in a rural town.

What’s your next writing adventure? I’m working on “Goin’ Home, a sequel to “Where Sheep May Safely Graze.

Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? Brick and Mortar shops are definitely on the decline, witnessed by how many large chains have closed.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? Some people will always be wary of self-published authors, but this has changed drastically. One reason is those self-styled writers, who pay little attention to proofing and editing, and who, in many cases, have no real story to begin with.

What is your greatest success? To this point, my greatest writing success has been “Friendships in the Dark” published in hard cover, paperback, large-print in the US, and translated into Chinese, as well as publication in the British Isles, all by a traditional publisher.

How important is writing/art to you? Writing is a large part of my life.