Spotlight: Cameron Van Sant

  • Jan 29, 2020
  • 5 minute read

Welcome to the Salt and Sage Books Spotlight series! We believe that by honoring each other’s voices, we’re able to turn creativity into community, and change the world through story.

In this spotlight series, we welcome you into our creative community by inviting you to meet our editors and expert readers, and to hear a little of their own story, in their own words.

Cameron Van Sant

Cameron Van Sant

Cameron Van Sant is an editor who wants to see every writer succeed. He has experience editing creative works, professional reports, and academic writing.

What do you do with Salt and Sage?

I’m a sensitivity reader, a developmental editor, and I do line editing and proofreading

What do you love about editing and sensitivity reading?

For sensitivity reading, it’s just knowing that people who are outsiders to my community care enough about me and people like me that they want to try and make positive contributions to our representation.

What drew you to Salt and Sage Books?
I was drawn to Salt and Sage because I loved how structured and clear their system for sensitivity reading is!

Where did you grow up, and where do you live now? Where do you wish you could live?

I grew up in a small foothills city called Placerville, also in California. I moved to Sacramento to go to college and haven’t left.

I live in Sacramento, California. Sacramento is the secret big city of California—it never looks impressive compared to San Francisco and Los Angeles, but we’re actually pretty large! 500,000 people live here. We’re actually bigger than Atlanta and New Orleans! I love that Sacramento has lots of big-city experiences but our proximity to SF keeps us humble and gives the city an underdog vibe.

Where do you wish you could live?

If I’m dreaming, it’s Reykjavík, Iceland. Iceland wins all of those “happiest place on Earth” studies. Icelanders also love books. I doubt the happiness and the reading are directly connected, but I could be wrong!

How do writing and editing figure into your daily life?

In the morning, I go to an office where I write and edit reports. Then I take a lunch at home and write or edit freelance work for a short time. After that, I tutor students in English. If I’ve had a shorter tutoring day, then I’ll write or edit again.

What do you do when you’ve got a writing or editing deadline?

I have a giant whiteboard by my desk where I write my deadlines and my to-dos. I’m usually paranoid enough about deadlines that I can fuel into working.

What’s your favorite resource for editing?

For sensitivity reading, it’s simply being involved in my communities and reading media criticism by other LGBT+ folks.

What was the first moment you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t remember! I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, though when I was pretty young I wanted to write and draw comic books. I still love comic books, but writing prose is my passion now.

What’s your writing process like?

I’m a Pantser! I usually regret this around the time I have to figure out how to connect my beginning and middle to the ending I wanted to write, but I muddle through and make it happen

What do you love about writing?

I love crafting an experience for someone else to enjoy! I hate to sound like a 90’s kids show, but a journey in your imagination is one of the safest ways to journey!

What scares you about writing?

Writing is extremely vulnerable! Even if there’s not a lot of myself on a page, there’s still a lot of the type of things that I love. It’s sometimes hard not to take any criticism personally

What trend in publishing do you enjoy?

I love a good retelling of old stories, especially old white stories being rewritten with LGBTQ+ characters and/or people of color.

What do you hope will be the next big change or awesome trend in the publishing industry?

More trans writers being published! I’m always excited whenever I hear news that a trans writer’s book has been purchased by a publisher.

What would you love to do to make that awesome change happen?

I would love to edit for trans writers!

Tell me what you love about one of your favorite books.

I love that The Song of Achilles makes two mythological heroes into approachable people and turns their love story into the epic.

As a sensitivity reader, what think would you not want to have to tell someone, but that you feel people need to know?

For sensitivity reading, I want cis (non-trans) people to keep in mind that believing trans men are men and trans women are women doesn’t just mean you agree to properly gender trans people. It means that whenever you say “women”, you’re referring to cis women and trans women. When you say “men”, you’re referring to cis men and trans men. If you only mean cis men or cis women, you should say so.

What are you passionate about, that you wish more people knew about?

Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of queer pop—the more I dig, the more new artists I find. I used to think queer music ended with Elton and Melissa Etheridge, but there’s lots of artists out there! Lately, I’ve been listening to Hayley Kiyoko, Dorian Electra, Carlos Vara, MNEK, Teddy Geiger, and Raveena.

What’s your favorite quote?

“I worshipped dead men for their strength, forgetting I was strong.” – Vita Sackville-West