Ok seriously: Lainey Cameron is among the kindest and most generous writers I’ve met in the last five years since decided to become a novelist. She is active in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where I first met her, and she collects friends and fans everywhere she goes (which is a lot of places, as you’ll see). The arrival of her scintillating debut, THE EXIT STRATEGY, is a tribute to her exceptional perseverance and positivity, as you’ll read below. I’m so happy to introduce you to this wonderful human! Read On!
About Lainey Cameron
Lainey Cameron is a digital nomad and author of women’s fiction. Her debut novel, The Exit Strategy, has been called a “rallying call for women to believe in themselves and join together” and tells the story of a Silicon Valley investor who first meets her husband’s mistress across the negotiating table.
A digital nomad—meaning she picks locations around the world to live (and write) for months at a time—Lainey is an avid instagrammer and loves to share her writing insights and travel tips.
The road to publication is twisty at best. Tell us about some of your twists.
My background is that I’m a recovering tech-industry executive. Until four years ago, I worked full time in marketing, racking up 80-hour work weeks and two million airline miles flying around the world. (In case you’re wondering, that’s more than enough to make four trips to the moon and back!)
I approached my first novel in a way that’s not unusual, choosing to set it within an environment I knew: the not-so-subtle sexism of Silicon Valley. But I also wanted my story to break with the ridiculous stereotypes of ‘corporate women’ I’d seen on screen, especially the idea that we are our own worst enemies.
After several years, a ton of classes and coaching, a good dose of writerly angst, winning two awards, and eight plus versions, I queried agents. Over six months, I received 135+ similar and equally depressing rejections. Over 40 agents “loved” the full manuscript and found it a page-turner but saw no market for it. It was beyond disillusioning to be told they didn’t see publishers buying women’s fiction like this, set in the workplace.
And to be honest, it really frustrated me. As women, most of us spend more than half our lives at work. Was I seriously being told that books about women’s lives can only be about domestic suspense, motherhood, or romance? I chose another path and submitted the book directly to small publishers. Imagine my shock when, within a few months, I received several offers.
To see today that readers are enjoying the novel and just love the woman-power angle has warmed my soul.
Luckily, my experience in the corporate world, combined with some Scottish stoicism taught me resilience!
Were you an avid reader as a child? What kinds of things did you read?
I grew up in Western Scotland and I credit Terry Pratchett’s novels with turning me into a bookworm. I remember sitting in my childhood bedroom, rain pounding on the garden, absorbed in his fictional worlds.
My fingers tore through every page of the Discworld series and I still have a soft spot for any time death is portrayed as a character. A part of me may also still secretly believe our world is riding through space on the back of a giant turtle.
Tell us about some of the authors who inspire you.
It’s probably not a coincidence (when my debut is about the power of female friendship), that the authors I most admire are not only writers and teachers but make a habit of lifting up and supporting others. To me, it’s this community aspect that makes the author’s life worthwhile.
I admire people like Ann Lamott, who promotes writing resilience through her talks and essays, and I’m a big fan of Ann Garvin, founder of the Tall Poppies. Ann not only writes funny, snarky and fabulous books, but her entire philosophy is that as writers we are not in competition. Instead, when one of us rises, it’s a chance to give back and help others thrive, too.
Tell us about one of your proudest writing moments.
This one’s a tie between three plus years ago and just last week.
Back in 2017, I’d been writing for a year and a half, and I started to wonder whether I had no innate talent and everything I put on the page was of little value. (I’ve written recently about how this idea of innate talent versus learned craft is a dangerous misconception, but I digress…).
I was sitting on the roof of our rental house in Mexico, re-reading a draft of my manuscript, and questioning whether it was time to give up and go back to my marketing day job, when a friend called. She wanted to congratulate me on becoming a finalist for the Rising Star Award (a competition for unpublished fiction run by Women’s Fiction Writers Association).
I swear the neighbors thought a cat was being skinned alive on our rooftop, because I shrieked, more than once. Then I scrambled downstairs, yelling at my husband, “Look Honey, turns out it’s not crap!” That award, at that exact moment, was just the confidence boost I needed to keep going.
This week, three years later, that same book proudly displayed a “#1 New Release” banner on Amazon for several days. After all the rejections, and without a publicist or marketing team behind me, I felt a deep sense of vindication. When I see that this book can inspire hope, it makes me want to pump my fist and shout, “Take that everyone who said there’s no market for a book about women and friendship and sexism!”
Tell us about a book that made you cry.
This is an easy question. I’ve had the privilege of being a beta reader (for multiple versions) of a heart-breaking yet uplifting novel that released in April 2020: You and Me and Us, by Alison Hammer. [psst! We had Alison as a guest in April!]
This book is a story of grief and loss, but also of resilience, of being willing to forgive and find solace in your family, and ultimately of hope. I’m emotionally tied to this book, because I know how hard Alison worked for over a decade honing her craft, but also how does she manage, with a novel I’ve read 3 plus times and know exactly what will happen, to make me cry – every single time? Those are some mad writing skills!
About THE EXIT STRATEGY
Silicon Valley, sexism and the power of female friendship
Silicon Valley investor Ryn Brennan is on the verge of achieving everything she’d dreamed. She’s proven herself in the male-dominated venture capital world, benefits from the support of her successful husband, and is about to close the deal of her career.
Everything is going exactly as planned, until she meets Carly, her husband’s mistress, across the negotiating table.
Carly clawed her way back from being a teenage runaway to become an accomplished scientist, loving single mom, and co-founder of her startup. Once she marries her perfect fiancé, she’ll secure that ‘normal’ life she craves. But she’s blindsided to discover her not so perfect fiancé is already married—to Ryn, her company’s biggest investor.
In an industry full of not-so-subtle sexism, can the two women rise above, and work together to overcome heartbreak and ensure their success?
And here’s what the reviewers are saying:
“…Cameron’s debut, and wow, does she make an entrance. Timely and provocative with ripped from the headline themes, you’ll want to rise up and cheer on her witty and ingeniously crafted characters.” – Kerry Lonsdale, Wall Street Journal bestselling author
“The well-crafted narrative sizzles with tense, relatable, and realistic scenes…” “Throughout, readers will root for these women’s success.”– Kirkus Reviews
“Fabulous debut…strong women faced with timely struggles. The Exit Strategy is one of friendship, forgiveness, and moments of heartfelt laughter. You won’t forget these courageous characters.” – Rochelle Weinstein, USA TODAY bestselling author
“A rollicking read complete with lightning-fast pacing, witty prose, lovable characters. Unputdownable!” – Samantha Vérant, author of Seven Letters from Paris
“An uplifting tale for turbulent times. Cameron…forges an unshakable female alliance that aims to do what women do best: change the world, one heart at a time.” – Kathryn Craft, author of The Far End of Happy