Q&A with ‘Eden’s Escape’ author M. Tara Crowl

M. Tara CrowlM. Tara Crowl is the author of “Eden’s Wish” and “Eden’s Escape.” The following is a complete transcript of her interview with Cracking the Cover.

Why do you write?

Stories have always helped me understand the world. Writing my own just feels right. It doesn’t always feel good, and it’s not always fun, but it feels like it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.

Why specifically for young readers?

I love writing for young readers because they are curious and intelligent, but still innocent. It’s easy for them to lose themselves in a story, because they aren’t cynical or closed-minded. They’re eager to learn, imagine, and explore.

Where did the idea for the Eden of the Lamp series come from? Was it always planned as a series? How many more books?

One day I was on a plane, and I started imagining what life would be like for a genie. I was thinking about how the idea of being a genie is sort of intriguing and glamorous, but being trapped inside an oil lamp until someone rubbed it would be horrible. No freedom, no friends, no fresh air. From there, I started to dream up the character of Eden: a genie who longs to live a regular life on Earth.

Originally I didn’t conceive of it as a series, but that changed right before Eden’s Wish sold to Disney-Hyperion. I went to Europe by myself for some adventure and soul-searching, and I fell in love with Paris. 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! Even though that was years ago, I’m still baffled—and so grateful—that I’ve had this opportunity.

For now, there are no further Eden books in the works. But I’m hoping there will be at some point!

edenswishHow did Eden’s character develop?

At the beginning of Eden’s Wish, Eden is kind of a know-it-all. She plays tricks on her wishers, resents her masters (who are sort of like her parents), and thinks she’s so much smarter than mortals who live on Earth. When she escapes her lamp and spends a few days on Earth, she gets some sense knocked into her. She learns to value the people around her, as well as what makes her unique and special.

In Eden’s Escape, Eden is more focused on others than herself. Instead of fighting for what she wants and trying to figure out who she is, she’s fighting for the people she loves, and against things that are going to hurt the world. She’s also learning about friendships and relationships, and navigating their more complex aspects.

Why do you think your Eden books appeal to young readers?

They’re full of adventure, with lots of action, and lots of twists. I think young readers like the fast pace, vibrant characters, and the humor throughout.

If you met a genie, what would you wish for?
  1. The ability to travel to the past—not to change anything, just to experience it.
  2. Control over my memory, so I could remember everything I want to remember, and forget what I want to forget.
  3. For every person living to experience real, true love.
edensescapeLooking back, how has your writing evolved?

I’ve gained confidence. I used to second-guess myself a lot as I wrote—and I still do, but less. I’d worry about whether I was doing it right, whether the funny parts were funny, whether the scary parts were scary, etc. Of course, it’s important to challenge yourself to be funnier and scarier and everything else that will make the story better. But I’ve learned to trust my instincts more. I’ve also learned to keep the story moving, and get rid of anything that doesn’t aid that.

Would you still write, even if none of your work was never published?

Yes. I’ve tried not writing, but it doesn’t last! I always come back. I love making up stories. But it is amazing having your work published, because it means you can talk to people who have read it. It connects you with people you’ve never met.

What are you working on now?

Something new and completely different. It’s challenging, but I’m really excited about it!

Is there a book from your own childhood that still resonates with you today? Why?

Yes, there are many! To name a few: A Wrinkle in Time, all books by Roald Dahl, The Mennyms by Sylvia Waugh. I’ve always liked books set in our world, but with fantastic elements. I love the removal of that barrier between real and imaginary. I’m not someone who necessarily wants to be transported somewhere different when I read. I just want the world as I see it to grow.