M. Tara Crowl is the author of middle-grade novels Eden's Wish (Disney-Hyperion, 2015) and Eden's Escape (Disney-Hyperion, 2016). Tara grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then worked as an assistant in Hollywood for two years before choosing to pursue to her childhood dream of writing books. She moved from LA to Sydney, Australia and received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University. She now lives in New York City.
Welcome, Tara. Please tell us about your current release.
Eden’s Escape is the second book in the Eden of the Lamp series, and it was released by Disney-Hyperion in September of this year. The first book, Eden’s Wish, came out in 2015. Both books are about a twelve-year-old genie who wants to live on Earth like a regular girl.
In Eden’s Wish, Eden escapes her lamp, surfaces on the beach in California, makes friends with mortals, and tries to pretend that she’s one of them. While she’s in the midst of trying to make friends and fit in at school, she finds herself in the middle of a battle between dissenting groups of immortal genie alumni.
In Eden’s Escape, she changes history by being the very first genie to come to live on Earth, while remaining an active genie. That means she can still be summoned anywhere in the world to grant three wishes, any time the lamp is rubbed. She finds herself in New York City with a genie alum named Pepper who becomes her new guardian. Just as she’s getting comfortable, she’s whisked away for a granting that goes very wrong. She escapes the wisher, realizes she’s in Paris, and goes on the run. It’s the start of a whole new adventure.
What inspired you to write this book?
Right before Eden’s Wish sold to Disney-Hyperion, I took a trip to Paris and fell in love with the city. I thought it would be so much fun to take Eden there for a Parisian adventure. I decided that if the book sold, I wanted to write a sequel and set it there. At the time, it seemed inconceivable. 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 to Paris for a few weeks to write and research. It was a total dream come true.
Excerpt from Eden’s Escape:
This time Eden landed on her feet.
When she opened her eyes, she saw that they were planted on black pavement. Black pavement meant a street. She was standing on a street.
Okay, she thought. But where? She lifted her eyes.
Directly before her were four yellow taxis, side by side, like the front line of a battalion. To her left and right were buildings so tall, she was as small as a bug in comparison. And in the distance, a narrow slip of bright blue sky framed by more sky-high buildings, as far as she could see.
She’d never been here before; of that, she was certain. And yet, she’d received a genie’s education. She’d seen enough photos to know without a doubt where she was.
“New York City,” she said softly.
RERRR!!! Car horns rang in her ears.
“Get outta the road!” yelled a man leaning out of a taxi’s window. “You tryna get killed?”
The light had changed, and the battalion was ready to charge.
As Eden sprinted to the sidewalk, taxis ripped through the space she left behind. Something heavy bounced on her back, and she felt straps around her shoulders. She was wearing a backpack. Suddenly, it started to vibrate against her back---but there was no time to figure out why right now.
There was no less traffic on the sidewalk, but at least it was made up of mortals on foot rather than cars. The prospect of a collision wasn’t nearly as dire.
Mortals. She took a deep breath. She had to stop calling them that.
After all, she was living among them now.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Something completely different. Stay tuned!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I guess, from the time I decided to really pursue it. I had been working in Hollywood after film school when I realized that the dream of writing books that I’d had as a kid had never gone away. I made a big decision to pick up and move to Sydney, Australia to do a Master’s program in Creative Writing at Macquarie University. From that point, I kind of felt like there was no turning back. I believe that if there’s something you’re passionate about and committed to, you can’t wait for someone to hand you a title like that in order to embrace it. I was no less a writer then than I am now.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
In addition to writing, I also work at the restaurant that my husband owns. It’s actually a great balance, because I get lonely if I’m by myself writing for too long. Being at the restaurant gives me a chance to be around people. It’s in our neighborhood, so I can walk there. And the amazing food and coffee are definitely a plus!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes I like to wander around the city (or wherever I am) and try to view things from the eyes of one of my characters. I don’t think you can write dynamic, engaging characters if you don’t try to understand the world from their perspective. Sometimes I spend a whole day trying to think and perceive the things around me the way a particular character would.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Usually, an author or an actress (or both. But at different points, I also wanted to be an astronaut, a pilot, a lawyer, and a pharmacist.
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Thanks for being here, Tara! Happy writing.