Interview with Vicki Cameron

A place to discuss all aspects of Clue/Cluedo.

Moderators: Michael, BBP, Tum

Post Reply
Elrond
Gumshoe
Posts: 173
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Interview with Vicki Cameron

Post by Elrond » Fri Mar 22, 2019 1:03 pm

Vicki Cameron wrote the Clue Mysteries and More Clue Mysteries back in the early 2000s. I reached out to her to ask a couple of questions, and she graciously agreed to a little interview which she also said I could share with you all!
I think the best place to start answering your questions is at the beginning. Keep in mind this happened in the days before smart phones, texting, apps, and tablets, although Google was around as one of several search engines and we had personal computers.

I was sitting innocently at my computer writing one day, when up popped a message from Crime Writers of Canada to all members. It said one of the members had a contract to write a book of short stories about Clue, and was unable to complete the task. Was there anyone interested in picking up the challenge?

I immediately wrote back and said yes, I was interested. I was given the contact information for Running Press, the publisher, and presented myself as a candidate. I can’t remember if it was by phone or by email, but I know I never left my chair.

Maybe they liked my credentials, or maybe I was the only one who stepped up, but they explained what they were looking for.

The contract was for 12 short stories, 3,000 to 5,000 words each, based on the board game Clue. I said I normally write 2,500 words, so I would write 15 stores, to fill the book. It’s page count that matters here, not number of stories.

I was asked to write one story and send it in to see if it fit their line. They sent me a package from Hasbro, of 1-page biographies for the 6 characters. This included where and when they were born, their parents and childhood, and what they had done as adults. From these, I imagined personalities.

This bit is critical to a short story or novel. You have to know your characters as people, so when a situation arises, you know what their response will be. For example, if a mouse runs across the kitchen floor, Mrs. White would get a broom and attack, Colonel Mustard would begin a monologue about mice in the Rangoon, Miss Scarlet would shriek and run away while attempting to look glamourous.

I sent in the first story and the editor was very happy with it and offered me the contract. Because Running Press and Hasbro had a fixed date agreed upon for the publication of the book, and much time had been lost dealing with the other author, I was allowed 12 weeks to produce 15 stories.

A typical writing day is 5-6 hours. The brain can only generate so much and then it slows down or begins making mistakes. The remaining hours of the day can be used for non-creative tasks, like email and business tasks, but creativity takes a toll. It takes me 20 hours to write a short story: 6 hours to write it and 14 hours to rewrite it. And there must be a space between the writing and the rewriting, to give the story a chance to cool on the page, and the brain to disconnect so it will see the story rationally. Typically, when a story is fresh on the page, the writer looks at it and it is either the most shining example of prose ever written the history of mankind, or it is the worst piece of dreck to rise out of a swamp, ever. So the gap time is critical. This meant my best line of progress was to write a whole series of stories, set them aside, and come back to them later. So I’d write, if possible, two a day for a few days, then go back to the beginning and rewrite. Sometimes the initial write was fairly sketchy, but at least I had something down on the screen and a place to work from.

I was very busy for those weeks. On top of this, I got called for jury duty. Fortunately, my name was not drawn from the hat so I didn’t have to serve.

As an aside here, Hasbro had designed the covers for Clue and Cludeo when they contracted the first author, and his name was on the covers. I managed to get them to take his name off and put mine on the Clue version, but the Cluedo version still had his name on it. Nigel and I had a good laugh about that. Somehow later that got fixed.

To keep myself on track, I put the playing cards from my Clue game in a rack in front of me. I decided to give each person equal time as viewpoint character, and, as an equal-opportunity employer, give each person equal time as killer. Also the rooms and the weapons got equal time.

When I sat down to write each story, I pulled the playing card of that character to the front, right beside my screen, and I became that person as I wrote. I sat like that person, moved like that person, and if the phone rang, I answered as that person. Quite funny when the bank called and had to talk to Colonel Mustard until I could find my real self and revert.

Writing Clue was the most fun I ever had at my computer. I loved it. I loved the characters, and inventing the stories, and trying to show how these people interacted. I pulled fragments of things from my life and incorporated them into the storylines. I practically skipped down the hall to my office very morning.

After I finished the first volume, I was to start on More Clue Mysteries. There was a pause while Hasbro thought about whether to have me write the same characters, or upgrade to the new set of characters they had created, including Azure, Lavender, Rusty, Meadow-Brook, Ash, and the rest. They sent me the bios of these and I began creating personalities and writing. There was discussion about the cover, which showed the old characters in revamped art. In the end, it was decided that the book would carry on with the original characters, so I went back to writing about Green, Peacock, White, and the rest. Unfortunately, this side-track had eaten up a lot of time, and I was once again facing 12 weeks to produce 15 stories.

I have to say I had even more fun this time, as I had to dig a little deeper inside me to come up with fresh ways and reasons to kill the same man 15 times.

The reason there is similarity between my stories, the DVDs, and the online games is probably because every developer was given the same character bio outlines as I received. As I am a writer, not a game developer, these projects never came my way.

At some point a few years on, Hasbro and Running Press came to the calendar end of their contract. Since they had both moved on to other projects, neither renewed or created a new contract. That’s why there are no new books.

Hasbro owns the characters, so I am not at liberty to write about them in any future stories unless it is under contract with Hasbro.

But no worries. I had great fun writing. The books brought joy to the readers. What could be better?

User avatar
Sir Shamrock
Slueth
Posts: 271
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: In the ballroom, with the Candlestick

Re: Interview with Vicki Cameron

Post by Sir Shamrock » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:57 pm

This is amazing! Excellent work with this!

But what you're telling me is that there's complete bios for everyone out there, including the extra suspects? We need to find these

Elrond
Gumshoe
Posts: 173
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Re: Interview with Vicki Cameron

Post by Elrond » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:13 pm

Sir Shamrock wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:57 pm
This is amazing! Excellent work with this!

But what you're telling me is that there's complete bios for everyone out there, including the extra suspects? We need to find these
Yup. But how? Hasbro won’t even respond to an email or phone call...

User avatar
Sir Shamrock
Slueth
Posts: 271
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: In the ballroom, with the Candlestick

Re: Interview with Vicki Cameron

Post by Sir Shamrock » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:41 pm

This may be a long shot, be would Ms. Cameron have them still

Elrond
Gumshoe
Posts: 173
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:33 pm

Re: Interview with Vicki Cameron

Post by Elrond » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:50 pm

I asked. It doesn’t appear so, and unfortunately they would probably be under copyright and she under contract even if she did still have them. I would guess the only way to get them would be to get Hasbro to release them... and that seems nigh impossible.

User avatar
Sir Shamrock
Slueth
Posts: 271
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2018 2:36 pm
Location: In the ballroom, with the Candlestick

Re: Interview with Vicki Cameron

Post by Sir Shamrock » Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:06 pm

I'm sure something will come up. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday something is bound to gappen

Post Reply