Today I have the honor of interviewing M. Tara Crowl, author of Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape. I hope to promote the recent publication of Eden’s Escape, the second book in Crowl’s middle-grade series. This interview also highlights M. Tara Crowl’s writing process and publishing experience.
About the Series: Eden’s Wish
Title: Eden’s Wish (Eden of the Lamp #1)
Author: M. Tara Crowl
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Published: September 1, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
All twelve years of Eden’s life have been spent in an antique oil lamp. She lives like a princess inside her tiny, luxurious home; but to Eden, the lamp is nothing but a prison. She hates being a genie. All she wants, more than anything, is freedom.
When Eden finds a gateway to Earth within the lamp, she takes her chance and enters the world she loves. And this time, she won’t be sent back after three wishes.
Posing as the new kid at a California middle school, Eden revels in all of Earth’s pleasures–but quickly learns that this world isn’t as perfect as she always thought it was. Eden soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between powerful immortals. A ruthless organization run by a former genie will stop at nothing to acquire the lamp and its power–even hurt Tyler and Sasha, the new mortal friends who have given Eden a home. To save her friends and protect the lamp’s magic, Eden must decide once and for all where she belongs.
About the Series: Eden’s Escape
Title: Eden’s Escape (Eden of the Lamp #2)
Author: M. Tara Crowl
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Published: September 6, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Eden’s new life on earth begins in New York City under the guidance of her new guardian: Pepper, a petite, bubbly genie alum who’s also a Broadway actress. Before she has a chance to settle in, though, Eden is whisked away for a granting–only to find herself trapped in a laboratory. David Brightly, owner of the world’s leading tech company, cares more about tapping into the lamp’s power than making a wish and starts performing tests on Eden. With Brightly’s plasma shield around the lamp, Eden has no way home. Left without a choice, she escapes the lab and goes on the run. After her daring exit, Eden finds herself on the streets of Paris–home to Electra’s headquarters. Left in a strange city with a price on her head (courtesy of scheming Brightly), Eden has to keep her wits about her. She dons a chic disguise and flits around Paris incognito, investigating Brightly Tech. Assisted by Pepper and her old adversary Bola, as well as some new friends, Eden embarks on a quest to retrieve the lamp and protect the secrets of the genie legacy.
Praise for M. Tara Crowl’s Books
“Crowl’s imaginative storyline rings with both perception and humor.”
“Middle grade readers will enjoy the children’s autonomy and Eden’s humorous difficulties in grasping how school works…Hand this to readers who like their magical fantasy combined with middle school drama.”
―School Library Journal
“An imaginative romp with a smart, snarky protagonist and a humorous interpretation of the world as we know it…[Eden] is also just plain entertaining, with a sassy attitude and a clever wit that saves her on more than one occasion.”
About 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.
Interview with M. Tara Crowl
Hi M. Tara Crowl! Thank you for taking the time to answer a couple of questions for me.
Thank you for having me!
How long have you known that you wanted to write stories, and when did you decide to take the plunge into authorship?
I’ve loved writing since I was a kid. Through my childhood, I read constantly and dreamed of writing my own books. In high school I 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. I dropped everything in LA and moved to Sydney, Australia for a Master’s program in Creative Writing. It was a risk, but I knew I had to pursue that dream.
Give an example of an issue you faced as a writer. How do you deal with writers block, and what do you use as motivation for writing?
As with so many other things in life, the most dangerous enemy is fear. For me, writer’s block is a sort of paralysis caused by fear. Fear that I’m going to make the wrong decision in the story, or that I could be doing something better. Those fears are valid; there will probably always be things I could do better within the stories I write. But it doesn’t do anyone any good for me to be bound by those fears. You have to push forward through them, and do the best you possibly can.
Honestly, I couldn’t do it if it weren’t for my faith. I’d be lost without knowing there’s a God who gives me strength.
As a young author, did you come across any problems in the writing or publishing process? Do you have any advice for other writers or people who want to be published?
Everything takes longer than you think! You’ve got to be patient, and use the in-between time wisely.
What was your writing process like for writing Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape? Where did you get inspiration for the story?
First, I started writing Eden’s Wish when I moved to Sydney for grad school. I turned in the first part for my thesis, then I moved to New York City and finished it while working lots of miscellaneous jobs to pay the bills. I did temp office jobs, catering jobs, worked at a pool one summer. Sometimes there were chunks of a month or more when I didn’t write at all. But I always came back to it. Eventually I finished the book and got an agent, and sold it to Disney-Hyperion.
Eden’s Escape is the second book in the series, so the characters and the world had been established. In that sense, it was easier to write. But also, it was a new experience writing a book that I knew was going to be published. To some extent, that gave me confidence; but also, it raised the stakes. I wanted to make sure my characters were consistent, but also growing. And I wanted the story to be more thrilling, more engaging, and more meaningful all at the same time.
How did publishing Eden’s Wish change your writing process? Did the publishing process help you with your writing schedule?
It definitely helped, because I was being paid to write it! That makes a big difference. Having deadlines from the publisher was helpful, too. They kept me focused and on track.
This book is about a genie who escapes from her confinement to live in the real world – did you have to do any research into genies? What was one of the funniest or most interesting things you found while researching?
I did a little bit of research, but mostly I decided to make up my own rules for the genie world. It’s fascinating that the genie myth has existed for so long, and in so many different forms. I was surprised to learn that the story of “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp,” regarded as the first recorded story featuring genies, was not a part of the original Arabic versions of One Thousand and One Nights. It was added by a French translator, who heard it from a Syrian storyteller. And it was set in China, not the Middle East.
Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape are middle-grade fiction stories. Have you always wanted to write for a middle-grade audience? Do you have any plans to write for other readers?
With Eden’s Wish, I didn’t set out to write a middle-grade book, but it was the best fit for the story I had imagined. It turned out to be a natural place for me to write from. When I was a middle-grade reader, reading helped shape who I was becoming, and the way I saw the world. So I think when I write for that age group, I return to that place.
That said, I do think I might write for older readers at some point in the future. I want to keep trying new things.
Who is the ideal audience for Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape? What is something any reader could love about these books?
The covers look girly, but I think they’re good books for boys or girls, and I’ve spoken to lots of boys who have really liked them. Ultimately, they’re adventure stories, and there’s a lot of humor in them.
I think Eden is relatable for just about anyone. She’s a genie, but she’s also a 12-year-old girl. She’s adventurous, exuberant, and brave. She wants to be free to explore the world, but she comes to realize that people are what make the world beautiful.
What do you hope readers will get out of your books? If you could say one thing to everyone reading Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape, what would it be?
I would love for readers to gain new appreciation for the beautiful world we live in. Eden has lived inside a lamp for her whole life, so she looks at the world with wonder. She’s in love with the sun, the ocean, all kinds of animals, and everything green and growing. As I wrote about Earth from her perspective, I found myself enchanted by those things too. I didn’t necessarily expect that when I started writing the book, which made it that much more impactful for me. I hope that comes across to readers.
What are your writing plans for the future? Will we see any more of Eden’s adventures? Do you have other stories in mind or in the works? What can we expect from you as an author?
There are no more Eden books in the works right now, but I am working on something new.
Thank you again for answering these questions!
Thanks again for having me on your blog!
I am currently running a giveaway on my Instagram account to promote M. Tara Crowl’s works! One lucky resident of the U.S. will receive a free, signed copy of Eden’s Escape! Head over to my most recent Instagram post for rules on entering!