Meet the Author: Words of Alchemy by Camilla Downs

Today we travel to Reno, Nevada, USA to chat with Camilla Downs (yep, that’s me) about how a Swedish actress, going for walks, chromosome deletions, tiny house living, a construction company, being a paralegal, nature photography, Scooby Doo, and tenacity come together to form the ingredients for the alchemy of Camilla’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hey! I’m Camilla Downs (pronounced like Pamela, but with a “C”). I was named after Camilla Sparv, a Swedish actress in the 1960’s and 70’s. I’ve been told that I’m the great great grand-daughter of a full blooded Chickasaw Indian and Irish immigrants (haven’t researched this yet, it’s on my to do list for this year).

I have lived in Reno, Nevada, USA for the past 14 years, moving here from the Seattle, Washington area in 2006. I spent my first 18 years in Jackson, Mississippi and Houma, Louisiana.

I love walking. I am out for walks anywhere from three to six days a week. Nature is partly the inspiration for my writings and poetry. The other part is a desire to process my life experiences; to give them an outlet through writing.

Writing in this way allows me to feel and release experiences and to receive comfort and answers. I also write narratives of my life experiences and how I’ve processed the experiences; sharing these on my blog and in my books.

I have been single parenting fourteen year old Thomas and eighteen year old Lillian since Thomas was 1 year old. Lillian has a chromosome deletion simply called 18p-. This means she is missing the short arm of chromosome #18.

My kids and I call ourselves Team TLC to correspond with the first letters of each of our names. During 2015-2019 we were tiny home dwellers, living in a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, 810 square foot apartment. That was one heck of an adventure!

In addition, we are an unschooling family. Thomas and Lillian focus on what interests each of them and learn about that topic. I act as a facilitator and provide assistance when asked or needed. Lillian is a proud graduate of 2019.

I am inspired by this place I chose as home in 2006. When he was seven years old Thomas summed it up with one beautifully inspired comment ….

“It’s like we are at an art show and nature keeps changing the art for us.”

In which genre do you write?

So far, my genre writing of choice has been memoir, with this latest book being a free-verse poetry memoir. However, I feel a fiction, maybe a creative nonfiction, bubbling and brewing along with more books to follow.

How many published books do you have?

I have 4 published books. Two are authored by me and the other two are with my children.

Words of Alchemy – Published December 2019
Where Would You Fly and Other Magical Stories by Lillian Darnell with Camilla Downs – Published January 2018
Biggest Little Photographer by Thomas Darnell with Camilla Downs – Published October 2016
D iz for Different – One Woman’s Journey to Acceptance – Published February 2012

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading four books. I read different books during different times of the day, also depending on my mood.

Anywhere That Is Wild – John Muir’s First Walk to Yosemite, Edited by Peter & Donna Thomas
What We Talk About When We Talk About Books by Leah Price
The World of Serendipity by Marcus Bach
Beyond the Known – How Exploration Created the Modern World and Will Take Us to the Stars by Andrew Rader

List 7 interesting facts about yourself.

We haven’t had a television since 2008, and do not miss it.
I have not used a microwave, for heating or cooking food, since about that same time, and have not missed it. However, I do use the timer and I store food inside it to keep it warm.
I’m headed into my second year of being a vegan and fourth year as a vegetarian.
I am certified in Reiki.
I was a paralegal for 10 years before I had children.
I swear a lot, I mean loads.
I’ve been a grocery checker, a bookkeeper, a receptionist, a paralegal, CEO of a construction company, social media consultant, substitute teacher, route delivery driver, pet and elderly person sitter, and an author.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

I didn’t set out to write poetry, an accidental poet, perhaps? I began an incredibly deep and profound healing journey after my divorce. A major part of the healing was going for walks, lots and lots of walks, allowing nature to help me in healing. When in nature, poetic words would simply bubble to the surface of my thoughts. That was the original inspiration. Following this, I began to receive intuitive nudges to take photographs while on these walks.

After a walk, I would scroll through the nature photographs, choosing one to post on social media. As I began to type a comment to accompany the photo, poetic words spilled from my heart and mind, through my fingers, landing on the screen. This began to happen more often with the poems becoming more in depth. Eventually the poems began to flow simply from events I was in the midst of experiencing.

I thought my next book was going to be a memoir or creative nonfiction, detailing the years from 2012-2019. It turned out to be something like that, just not what I was originally thinking. Every time I sat to work on the next book, my thoughts would turn to the poems I had written over the previous six years. I finally listened to that knowing and began organizing the poems; which led to Words of Alchemy being published on December 2019.

Is there something special you do with your book before sending it to a reader?

I personalize each book with a hand written message, at times including a special message within the book. It’s always a little different. Sometimes it’s a handwritten message on a small card, others it’s a micro short poem or message created from the words of a book destined for the trash.

In addition to that, I offer readings from the book via telephone. I’m happy to do this one on one or on speakerphone to a book club (or in person if you are in the Reno/Tahoe/Sparks surrounding area). This is done at no charge and I’m happy to have discussions after the reading. If interested, go here to reserve a slot …

What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?

I go for walks, take nature photographs, read, meditate, do the grocery shopping (Ha!), cook for the three of us, have a solo dance party, update The Team TLC website, post on my personal website, post author interviews on this website, and keep track of and complete paperwork having to do with my special needs daughter, Lillian.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through writing?

The absolute most enjoyable aspect of writing is the feedback from those who are touched, inspired, and moved by the words that flow through my fingertips.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve done to help create a scene?

This has to do with the nature photographs I take … I have been known, and seen by onlookers, to lay flat on the freezing cold ground (or burning hot ground) to get at the perfect angle for a photo. I’ve contorted my body in all manner of ways, stood in precarious places … just so I could get the perfect photo. All of this fueled by my intuition. Many times I’m in the midst of a walk, and get the urge to stop, look up, look down, look sideways and know I’m supposed to take a photo. These photos are what inspired the early poetry.

Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?

Yes, I do. When I was a young girl I kept a diary, and still have those early diaries. When I reached Jr High and High School, and throughout my early adult years, I discontinued this practice, picking it up again when I separated and then divorced in 2006.

Writing holds my heart and guides me to confront the unlovely and harsh thoughts that litter my mind at times. Yet, also to fully experience the joyful and peaceful moments. Writing gave me solutions and direction for decisions I was faced with making. Many of the poems in Words of Alchemy came forth in journal writing. I feel writing is therapeutic and I suggest everyone write, even if they have no desire to be an author.

What do you miss about being a kid?

I experienced a pretty rough child hood in my home life, and always felt like an outcast in school, so … I certainly don’t miss that. However, I do miss both of my grandmothers, Estelle Mann and Elnor Downs. Their essence is within me and I call upon it, and them, often.

If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely the old school Scooby Doo, having adventures in the Mystery Machine! I would choose to be a new member of the gang, a cool cat! I’d be able to fit into all the places the rest of the gang can’t fit and I’d have a smashing sense of humor!

What were the last three movies you watched?

The Aeronauts – Based on the true events in 1862 of badass balloon pilot Amelia Wren teaming up with meteorologist James Glaisher to advance knowledge of the weather, while flying higher than anyone in history.

The Farewell – Beautifully warm true story of cultural differences when a family member is diagnosed with a fatal illness.

Blinded by the Light – A heartwarming true story set to the music and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen’s songs.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

Excuse me, madam. I’m sure you may not remember me. We were childhood friends in middle school. It’s been a lengthy journey finding you and making my way here. I wonder if you would like to have lunch with me. I have never forgotten you and would like the two of us to catch up with one another.

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

Laser focused attention to detail

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on getting the word out about Words of Alchemy, having my hands quite full with paperwork now that my special needs daughter has turned 18. If any book bloggers, or authors who blog about other authors and their books, are reading this, would you be interested in hosting me on your blog?

Tell us about your most recent book.

The writings in Words of Alchemy are a testament to how walks, nature, writing, and allowing myself to feel and process buried emotions and trauma alchemized my life experiences.

It’s been a hoot interviewing myself! I hope everyone enjoyed the show! HA! –Camilla

The poetry of nature, the poetry of healing, the poetry of appreciation, the poetry of love … in one beautiful book.

Book Blurb:

In Words of Alchemy, Camilla Downs invites you to walk with her to share her love of Nature and Life through a heartfelt free-verse poetry memoir.

During her daily strolls she is mindfully present as she delves into life in the raw and experiences her heart’s observations.

Camilla embraces what happens when she opens her heart and invites the written words to flow. The Alchemy of Love and Healing is what happens.

Praise for Words of Alchemy

“Words of Alchemy, a heartfelt new collection by Camilla Downs, lives up to its namesake in numerous ways. Downs spans the broad range of nature, healing, love, and parenting, while making sure we have a little fun along the way. And the bridge she creates from the mindfulness of how we see the world at large to the poetry of everyday life is certainly worth a stroll or two across its borders.” – Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Award-winning author of Painted Oxen

“This poetry collection offers contemplative words, soothing thoughts and peace to the reader.” – Sue Bentley, Bestselling author of Second Skin

“Camilla Downs shares truth, vulnerability and wisdom in her Words of Alchemy collection, inviting readers to be inspired, contemplate and dive into her world of self-awareness and growth.” – G. Brian Benson – Award-winning author, actor and spoken word artist

“These poems take you on a calm and loving walk through the verses of the author’s thoughts. Alchemy is a perfect word for the title as Camilla Downs understands nature; connecting with its magical, medicinal qualities and beauty which she conveys throughout her poetry.” – Ailsa Craig, Author of The Sand Between My Toes

“Words of Alchemy is a chronicle of hope. These poems are an encouragement, especially when we are feeling at our lowest, to keep seeking the light that is our way forward, and focus on the real. This collection is a walk through the positive nature of life. Camilla Downs is to be commended.” – Frank Prem, Author of free-verse memoir Small Town Kid

Where to Buy:

Amazon: (paperback and ebook) (This link takes you to Amazon in your country.)

ebook is on sale for $3.44!

If you’re in the U.S. and would like a personalised, signed book go to this link- free shipping! (I will ship internationally, if the reader would like to pay the international shipping fee):

About Camilla:

Camilla Downs is a bestselling author, indie publisher, mentor, and mom. Nature and life experiences are a constant source of inspiration for her writing. She enjoys living a minimalist lifestyle, practicing meditation and mindfulness, reading, going for walks, and capturing nature’s essence with photographs. Camilla is the founder of and lives in Northern Nevada, USA with her two kids.

Family Website:
Amazon Author Central:


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To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Book Shelf: Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

A while ago my 14-year-old son asked me to help him find some juvenile and young adult fiction books having to do with mental health issues. This is one of them. I decided that instead of just giving him a list, that I’d read the books too.

It’s about a 16 year old girl who has a hell of a time with her spiraling thoughts. I really enjoyed the story and loved reading and getting absorbed in it.

However, I had something odd happen that is unique for me as something in the story triggered some issues from my own childhood and teenage years. This caused me to not like the ending of the story (but had to do with my own triggers). Seriously, it was pretty wild. I was angry and irritated for two days after finishing the book. Had to walk into the issue in my morning journal writing so I could connect with some issues, feel the discomfort of it all. Once I looked at it, embraced it and stopped rejecting it, I was able to move past it.

Again, totally unique to my situation as it triggered some deep hurt and pain within me from my past. Yet, that’s the beauty of life … We never know when or what is going to invite us to release past issues buried within.

Having said all of that, I did enjoy the book and I’ll be adding his other book, The Fault of Our Stars, to my list.

US Amazon:


To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla

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Meet the Author: Beyond the Margin by Jo Jackson

Today we’re traveling to rural Shropshire in central England to chat with Jo Jackson about how an orphanage in Egypt, views of Wenlock Edge, a large wildlife pond, the Israeli secret police, Wembley Stadium, and spending the night in the Gaza strip come together as part of Jo’s past and current life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Jo Jackson. I am the author of two books, ‘Too Loud a Silence’ published in 2016 and ‘Beyond the Margin’ published in 2019. Originally from Birmingham U.K., I now live in rural Shropshire with my husband and dog. Our three children are grown up, married with families and careers of their own. My own career was as a nurse, a midwife and ultimately as a family psychotherapist.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Even as a child I enjoyed writing and English was a favourite lesson. My first book was typed, illustrated and bound by my junior school and put in the school library. I read it out in the school assembly as a very proud ten year old.

Fast- forward twenty years and inspiration was ignited when I returned to England after living in Egypt for two years with my family. Events there – abandoned twin girls, an orphanage, and a situation that for me was never resolved became the inspiration for my first novel. I still have the handwritten manuscript that I wrote at the time but career and family took over and it lay unfinished.

On retirement I joined a writing group and the story that had lain dormant for thirty-seven years was rewritten and became ‘Too Loud a Silence’. I set it in Egypt with a backdrop of the Arab Spring with a backstory based thirty years earlier. It was a story I needed to write for those little orphaned girls and for me. I then went on to write ‘Beyond the Margin’, three years later.

What is your favourite writing place?

I am lucky to live in a house in rural Shropshire with stunning views of Wenlock Edge from every window. My favourite writing place, in summertime is sitting with my laptop beside a large wildlife pond in the garden. I share the space with birdsong, mallards, moorhens and their chicks all busy foraging among the reeds. In winter you’ll find me in the conservatory or curled up beside the log burner. I love nature and it inspires description in my writing. My best time to write is early morning and I witness many beautiful sunrises.

Tell us three interesting facts about yourself.

– Driving home from Egypt in a car with Egyptian number plates we were stopped and made to get out while the car was searched by the Israeli secret police. They thought my husband, myself and our 3 blonde haired children, aged 4 – 11 may be Lebanese terrorists!

– We were once marooned on a small island off the coast of Taiwan for 5 days because of a storm. Eventually we were taken back to the mainland by boat, through mountainous seas – and survived to tell the tale!

– I have stood on the seats of Wembley Stadium singing ‘We are the champions’, after watching my son lift the FA cup with Everton in 1995.

Where did the idea for your most recent book come from?

My most recent book, ‘Beyond the Margin’ arose out of two short stories I had written. Within my work as a family psychotherapist I was privileged to meet many people whose lives were lived on the edge of society. The novel is a tribute to their courage and resourcefulness. I used the setting of a timber yard because I walk above one almost every day with the dog. The ordered rows of tree trunks and the quiet of the place in the evening when work has ceased inspired me. I began to write the novel when I was in Ireland for a month and the wild scenery in the west seemed the perfect backdrop to the story.

What do you do when you’re not writing or marketing your books?

I have a wonderful life! I paint, I study philosophy, I read, I garden, I walk and travel in both the UK and distant places in the world, Africa and India being particular favourites. We have lots of friends and seven grandchildren all of them a joy.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?

That I have the ability to deeply touch people emotionally through my characters and writing.

What is the craziest / most inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?

Spending a night in the Gaza strip, with my family, in the home of a very kind taxi driver who generously made the offer when we found ourselves stranded at the border. We have the fondest memories of him and his family and the wonderful Palestinian hospitality showed to us that night.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Playing out in the street until it was dusk.
Lying in bed, reading a book until lunchtime on a Sunday morning.

A penguin knocks on your door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?

‘”I know I look ridiculous but climate change is real. Don’t let anyone pretend it’s not.”

Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?

My brother and I were always told, ‘if you start something, you finish it’. This message has stayed with me and fuels my determination. The other thing is I am always positive. I like people and see the best, not the worst, in them.

Describe your perfect solo date.

Somewhere in the tropics where I could walk through the rainforest and enjoy the songs of the birds and hear the call of the monkeys.

Tell us about your most recent book.

‘Beyond the Margin’

‘Its strength lies in its authenticity. A gritty bitter-sweet narrative that kept me turning the pages’. ‘Emotionally raw and brutally honest’. ‘A stunning piece of writing – and one of my books of the year’. These are just a few of the phrases used by reviewers of my most recent book. My thanks go to all of them for their encouraging words.

It was incredibly interesting learning more about you and your writing, Jo. I immensely enjoyed our interview.  You have had some amazing and wild adventures. Wishing you all the best! –Camilla

Blurb: Beyond the Margin

Is living on the edge of society a choice? Or is choice a luxury of the fortunate?
Joe, fighting drug addiction, runs until the sea halts his progress.

His is a faltering search for meaningful relationships.
‘Let luck be a friend,’ Nuala is told but it had never felt that way.

Abandoned at five years old, survival means learning not to care. Her only hope is to take control of her own destiny.

The intertwining of their lives makes a compelling story of darkness and light, trauma, loss and second chances.

Where to find the books:

Both books are available from: in paperback or kindle

Stepping into Books on Amazon

Direct from Jo’s website and

Shropshire bookshops, libraries and Waterstones

Connect with Jo:

Facebook: Jojacksonauthor

Twitter: @jojackson589


Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this author:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the author and their book(s)
  • If interested, buy the book and leave a review

To support this website and the author’s interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host