Good morning everyone!
It is a new year… which means a new set of authors for everyone to meet! Let’s get started.
For those of you who don’t know, each month I will post a two part feature. The first part will be an interview with the month’s author and include a short bio. The second part of the feature is a sample of the writer’s work. Sounds awesome right?
Everyone give a big welcome to January’s author. *claps*
Meet M. Tara Crowl.
M. Tara Crowl grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She lives in New York City.
Where to find her:
Now onto the interview!
Your two novels, Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape, seem to play a fairy tale against modern technology. How do you come up with the idea to play these two popular themes against each other? How do you think fairy tale characters would react to a modern world?
That’s an interesting question. I didn’t set out to juxtapose those two themes, but I guess the stories did evolve that way.
Initially, I was intrigued by the genie myth. I started thinking about what it would be like to be a genie, and I thought it would be terrible to be locked up alone in a lamp day after day, waiting for someone to rub it and give you a brief trip to the outside world. Eden’s lamp has existed for thousands of years, and her masters have been inside it the whole time, raising every genie who’s ever inhabited the lamp. The masters give Eden lessons, and they teach her about what’s going on in the world, but they don’t understand or approve of modern technology, so they don’t teach her how to use it.
In Eden’s Wish, technology is just one aspect of the world she’s trying to assimilate into. But in Eden’s Escape, it plays a more important role. Her wisher is the world’s most powerful tech mogul, and he abuses his power to find the lamp, and then to track down Eden herself after she escapes. Eden is highly intelligent, but because she’s clueless about technology, it made sense to use that lack of knowledge to make her vulnerable.
How has your view of writing and reading transitioned over the years based on your past jobs and education?
Growing up, I loved reading and writing. I wanted to write books from when I was very young. But in high school, I decided I wanted to make movies instead. I went to film school at the University of Southern California in LA. I did the critical studies track of the Cinematic Arts major. Even though I wasn’t taking classes on literature, I learned so much about storytelling. I think the class that was most valuable for me was a study of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies. They are so sharp and purposeful—not a word or a shot is wasted.
In college, I also started interning at production companies, and that’s when I started reading screenplays. I loved giving notes on them, figuring out what worked and didn’t work within the story, and why. My first job after college was for a production company and a literary manager, and then I worked in the motion picture literary department of a talent agency. But at a certain point, I realized that my childhood dream of writing was still alive, and that I’d never be happy if I didn’t pursue it. So I went to grad school for Creative Writing, and that’s when I got my first official writing education.
I wouldn’t change anything about my background, though. I’m grateful for the unique perspective it gave me.
I see in your bio that you were in Australia at one point, does any elements from there sneak into your novels?
Yes, I went to Sydney, Australia, for the Master’s program in Creative Writing. It was such a special time for me; I was breaking away to pursue my dream, and I was doing it in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I think the freedom and exhilaration I experienced there are present in my books. The first scene in Eden’s Wish is set in Australia, and it incorporates a few words and phrases that I’d learned there.
Why did you decide to write for a middle-grade audience? Do you see yourself writing for older readers in the future?
When I was a middle-grade reader, reading helped shape who I was becoming, and the way I saw the world. When I write for that age group, I think I return to that place. It’s a comfortable and natural place for me to write from. But I do think I might write for older readers at some point in the future. I want to keep trying new things, and challenging myself.
What was your favorite book as a child? How did that book, or books, help you grow as a reader and a writer?
When I was a child, my favorite book was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, and it is still one of my favorites. My first-grade teacher saw that I loved reading, and she gave me a copy and encouraged me to read it. It opened my eyes to the power that books can have. It has heart, imagination, and unforgettable characters. It’s the book that made me a lifelong reader.
How did it feel to finally sit down and write your own story? When did you know writing was going to be it for you as a career?
When I dropped everything in LA and moved to Sydney for grad school, I knew that I was committing to it, at least. I had no idea what was going to happen, whether it would actually become a career. But I made the decision to give it everything I had. So writing that first book with that mentality felt risky, and scary, and incredible.
Tell us about your experience getting Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape published.
My agent took Eden’s Wish out to publishers, and it sold to Disney-Hyperion in a two-book deal, so Eden’s Escape was written under contract. My editor at Disney-Hyperion is so smart, and her vision for the Eden books was exactly like mine, but better. I’m really grateful that that was my experience for my first two books.
Is there anything else you want to share?
Thank you M. Tara Crowl for the interview!
Check back tomorrow for part two of this feature and read excerpts from Crowl’s novels.