Hi all! Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing M. Tara Crowl, the lovely face you see up there. She’s the author of the Eden of the Lamp middle-grade series, which currently includes Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape. Seriously, though, her books sound super cute and creative! I, for one, always want to know what inspires writers to do what they do (they create amazing stories and worlds out of nothing, guys. It’s so magical.) so I’m always happy to do author interviews. Here’s how this one went:
Hi Tara, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Thank you so much for having me!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I’m the author of two books for middle-grade readers: Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape, both published by Disney-Hyperion. I grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, then moved to LA for college at the University of Southern California, where I studied Cinematic Arts. A few years later I got a Master’s in Creative Writing from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and I’ve been living in New York City since then.
When did you decide to become a writer? Why did you first decide to start writing?
When I was a kid. Reading was so important to me growing up, and from when I was very young,I wanted to write books like the ones I loved so much. In high school, I switched gears and decided that I wanted to make movies, so after graduation, I moved to LA and studied film at USC, and thenI worked in Hollywood for two years after that. But eventually, I realized that writing fiction was still the biggest dream in my heart. At that point, I knew I had to pursue it.
Please tell us briefly about some of the things you’ve written. Where can we buy or see them?
I’ve written two middle-grade books: Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape. You can buy them at a bookstore, or online using one of the links below:
How do you go about imagining your main characters? What special traits do they have?
All characters must have flaws, but my characters must be people who I like and admire. Eden, my 12-year-old protagonist in the Eden of the Lamp books, is gutsy, playful, and unique. She can be foolish and sometimes reckless, but she fights for what she believes inand for the people she loves. For me, it was important that she should be proactive, adventurous, and eager to explore the world.
Walk us through your writing process.
The concept comes first, along with the characterization of the protagonist. I figure out who the other important characters are and develop them. Then, I start plotting. I usually have an idea of where the story will go, but I only outline a few chapters ahead—and I make sure to let it change if it feels right.
What is the hardest thing about writing? What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Making decisions about the plot.Sometimes I find it difficult to commit to a certain direction, because I wonder if something different might work better. That was something I encountered while I was writing Eden’s Escape.When that happens, the most helpful thing for me is a deadline—either from the publisher, or one that I set for myself. Then I have to get it done, one way or another.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Seeing a character through a whole story when you’ve developed that character well up front. In the best case scenario, it can become almost like they show you what they’re doing; all you have to do is write it down.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I read both. If I’m traveling, it’s great to have a few books on my Kindle, to eliminate the bulk. But if I’m at home, it’s nice to read a traditional book. To be honest, it doesn’t make a huge difference to me while I’m reading. I do like having a bookshelf at home that reflects what I’ve read and what I like.
What books are you currently reading?
I just took a long road trip, and along the way I listened to the audio book of All American Boys by Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds. It’s such an important story, and they tell it so well. I just started reading My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. I’ve been hearing so much about her books.
How are you publishing your books and why?
Disney-Hyperion has published my first two books. For me, working with an editor to help make my stories as strong as they can possibly be and teams that seek out the right artist for the cover, people to format the pages of the books, etc. is invaluable. In those ways, I think the support that a traditional publisher provides is very helpful.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
They’re helpful if they’re helpful—if they’re encouraging, or if you learn something from them. If not, you can’t get hung up on them. Life is too short.
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
My dad always told me to “stay the course.” It’s simple, straightforward advice, but it’s been so helpful for me. When I was younger, I tended to flit around between projects and ideas. I had to learn that in order to make things happen, you have to persevere and see things through.
What is your favourite film and why?
The Graduate. I have a soft spot for it. Even though I wasn’t alive for the 60s, it gives me a sort of nostalgia for that era. Parts of it were filmed at my university, which is cool. And the ending is just incredible. There’s so much love, determination, and glee.
Do you have a literary character you’d like to meet?
Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which from A Wrinkle in Time.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?