Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for our American audience! Today celebrates one of the most respected civil rights figures in history! You know what also today is? Week 2 of the Month of Giveaways! Our special guest today is M. Tara Crowl, author of the Middle Grade Eden of the Lamp series, and she is giving away a signed copy of her newest book Eden’s Escape below! To all you SE-YA readers who are in need of a book to read before the festival, go enter our giveaway below! If you also want to check out my review of Eden’s Wish (the first book in the series), click here to view it!
1. What is your Eden of the Lamp series about?
Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape (Disney-Hyperion) are about Eden, a twelve-year-old genie who wants to be a regular girl and live on Earth. But for her, that’s impossible—at least, until she grants 999 wishes and completes her genie career. Until then, she’s stuck in the lamp with her masters, Xavier and Goldie, who have raised every genie who’s ever lived in the lamp.
But during the brief periods of time she’s spent on Earth granting wishes, Eden has fallen in love with the world. She isn’t content to wait. So in Eden’s Wish, she finds a way to escape her lamp, comes to Earth, and poses as a regular girl. In Eden’s Escape, her wish finally comes true when the lamp’s rules change to allow her to live on Earth while completing her genie career.
2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I’ve loved writing since I was a little kid. Through my childhood, I read constantly and dreamed of writing my own books. In high school, I changed direction and decided I wanted to make movies, so I moved to Los Angeles and went to film school at the University of Southern California. After graduating, I worked in Hollywood for a producer and a literary manager, and then at a talent agency. That was when I realized that my greatest dream was still to write books, and that I’d never be happy if I didn’t give it a shot. I dropped everything in LA and moved to Sydney for a Master’s program in Creative Writing. It was a risk, but I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t pursue that dream.
3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?
I’m not sure which author has affected my writing style the most, because I try to read fiction for pleasure, not to study it. I do want to learn from skillful writing, but I don’t want to imitate it; I want to be a better writer, but I always want to write like myself.
A few of the authors whose stories have impacted me are Roald Dahl, for his absurd storylines and playful prose; Patricia Highsmith, for the masterful way she builds suspense; and Madeleine L’Engle, for the way her stories shine with heart and imagination. Some of my other favorite authors are Kate DiCamillo, J.K. Rowling, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?
I like writing for young people, but I read MG, YA, and books for adults. Some of my favorite books are for young readers, like A Wrinkle in Time and Harriet the Spy. But I also love reading suspense thrillers, like Patricia Highsmith’s books. The books in the Ripley series are some of my favorites. And Blonde, by Joyce Carol Oates, is one of my favorite books.
5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
I write part-time. I also work at a restaurant that my husband owns.
6. Let’s say you found a lamp and there was a genie inside of it who says you have three wishes. What would you say? Remember to be careful about the wording!
- The ability to travel to the past — not to change anything, just to experience it.
- Perfect control over my memory, so I could remember everything I want to remember, and forget what I want to forget.
- For every person on Earth to experience real, true love.
7. If you were a genie, would you stay in the lamp or want to be free?
Be free! This was actually my motivation to start writing the series. One day I was listening to the audio book of Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder (which is amazing). It mentions, very briefly, the prospect of meeting a genie and being able to make three wishes. I think that when the genie myth comes to mind, most of us do usually see it from that perspective, and dream about what we’d wish for. But that day, I started imagining what it would be like to be a genie. Being trapped inside an oil lamp would be horrible! You’d have no friends, no fresh air, and, worst of all, no freedom. You’d only get to leave when some random person rubbed the lamp, and you could only stay on Earth for as long as it took to grant their wishes. You could give people their greatest fantasies, but you’d have no power over your own life. That was infuriating to me.
From there, I started to dream up the character of Eden. She’s in love with the world—trees, grass, sunshine, the ocean—but she can’t explore it until she’s completed her career as a genie. The story started with her character, and grew from there.
8. You’re heading back to your hometown of Murfreesboro, TN, at the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival (which I am hoping to go to)! How excited are you to come back to Tennessee?
So excited! I love coming back to Tennessee. Even though I haven’t lived there since I graduated high school, it will always be home to me. I think it’s incredible that Murfreesboro is hosting this festival, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a native! I hope to see you there too!
9. I saw that you moved to Australia for a while to study writing at Macquarie University? How was life in the Southern Hemisphere? Did the Aussie accents and dialect throw you off sometimes?
Yes, I studied at Macquarie for a year. I love Australia! It’s the most gorgeous country, and I really took to the lifestyle. During that year, there were times when I was thrown off by the accent and some words they use that I wasn’t familiar with. But I made more Australian friends when I moved to New York after I’d finished my Master’s, and I ended up marrying an Australian. So now, the way Aussies speak is as normal to me as the way Americans do.
10. Your newly released book Eden’s Escape is set in Paris, France. Have you ever traveled to Paris? If so, what did you enjoy about the city? If not, what would you like to visit?
I have traveled to Paris, and that’s actually why Eden’s Escape is set there. Right before Eden’s Wish sold to Disney-Hyperion, I took a solo trip to Europe and fell head over heels in love with Paris. I decided that if the book sold, I wanted to write a sequel and set it there. At the time, that seemed so unrealistic. But when I got back from my trip, I found out that it was going to be a reality! So the following year, I went back for a few weeks to research and write. I’m still in shock—and so incredibly grateful—that I got to live out that dream.
11. What are some of the films you have worked on when you were working in the film industry? Do you know the reason why screenwriters (or whoever adapts a book into a screenplay) rarely stick to the original storyline of a book?
I read and gave notes on drafts of lots of screenplays, but I was an assistant working for the writer’s manager or agent, so I didn’t actually work on them. A few of the more memorable projects I read were Black Swan, Juno, and Z for Zachariah, by my friend Nissar Modi.
Adaptations are difficult for several reasons. For one thing, books often contain more content than would logically fit into the length of a movie. Movies are also a visual medium, so sometimes the internal action in books (for instance, inside a character’s mind) needs to be adapted to external action for a movie. And also, the movie industry is very different from publishing, with different expectations and needs in terms of budget and marketing. So that has a huge effect on adaptations as well.
12. How would you describe your reaction when Disney-Hyperion said that it would publish your book, especially since its affiliation is with Disney?
I was ecstatic! Screaming and crying with excitement! I was with my best friend, who was my roommate at the time, and she was in the background crying too. It was an unbelievable fulfillment of a dream I’d had since I was a little girl.
13. Have you written any other works? What are also your current plans with your writing career?
I’m working on a new book that’s pretty different from the Eden books. I think I’ll always write, but I want to continue moving forward and trying new things.
14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?
Pay attention to your life, and experience it as fully as you can. Learn from your day-to-day experiences and relationships. Don’t take them for granted. The things that are most familiar to you have the power to give you the unique perspective that no one else in the world can ever have. Keep your eyes open and your heart soft. And always listen.
Thank you so much, Tara! It was fun reading your responses!
If you want to buy M. Tara Crowl’s books, or check out her social media pages, look no further!
Here is the giveaway! Woo hoo!
First, a quick rundown of the rules:
- This giveaway will last from 12:00 a.m. 1/16/17 to 12:00 a.m. 1/23/17. All times are in CST.
- You must be 13 years or older and a US resident with an address you can receive mail (no PO Boxes).
- NO CHEATING!!! I will remove entries that haven’t fulfilled the requirements.
- You must respond within 48 hours of me sending you an email. I will pick a winner randomly on Monday 1/23/17.
- This giveaway is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or WordPress.
Here’s the giveaway link!
Remember to please enter and share with your friends! I am planning on reading this book, and I have high expectations for it! I think you’re going to enjoy it!
Thanks for reading our latest interview! Tune in later this week for some more reviews and more giveaways!
(P.S. We are taking inquiries for interviews, giveaways, and guest posts for late February and March! Please email me about details. I’ll also accept some book requests.)