Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Something Wicked Returns: Eliza Crewe, Cracked Interview & Giveaway

Hi everyone!

I recently discovered a fabulously original new YA paranormal - Eliza Crewe's debut novel, Cracked. Cracked has pretty much everything I enjoy in YA: a fantastic plot, excellent pacing, a somewhat unusual romantic focus and a likeable and hilarious heroine who makes morally questionable choices at every turn.
The latter, of course, is what I liked most, so I invited Eliza to tell us a bit more about her MC, Meda. Enjoy!

Title: Cracked
Series: Soul Eater, #1
Release: November 5th 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Ever since my mom was murdered, I’ve been completely alone. I live in the shadows, because there’s no one like me. I have no choice because I have to fight the Hunger, the Hunger that drives me to hunt people and eat their souls. And I have to fight it if I want to stay out of the darkness.

Who am I?
I’m Meda Melange.
What am I?
I don’t know—but I’m not human.
And now, I finally have the chance to find out.
In this first book of the gripping Soul Eater trilogy, find out who Meda is and which side she will come down on in a thrilling tale of the war between good and evil.

Welcome, Eliza! For me, the most interesting part was Meda's moral ambiguity. Was it a difficult decision to write a character like that? Did you consider it risky?

Honestly, I can’t say it was a conscious decision--more ignorance than anything!  I just didn’t know any better.  I was new to writing when I first drafted Cracked, so I didn’t realize anti-heroes were problematic--I just thought Meda was different. It wasn’t until after I finished Cracked, when I started to read books and blog posts on the craft of writing that I realized I might have a problem.  They, particularly Blake Snyder's Save the Cat, which really emphasizes the importance of making a likable main character, made me a bit panicky.  I started looking for YA books with anti-heroes, and there really aren’t a whole lot, especially with a girl anti-hero--it was not reassuring! It certainly didn’t help that that’s when a river of rejections from agents started to flood in.

 Fortunately, right about that time I read Chime by Franny Billingsley and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Bryony Larkin, the main character, is a perfectly horrid girl and the book is brilliant and clever and funny. It reminded me that writing is fun, and if I loved Cracked maybe someone else would, too, so I stuck with it.  Fortunately that turned out to be the case, and I lucked into two editors, Penguin in India and Strange Chemistry for the rest of the world.  So short answer:  I didn’t know enough to realize it was risky until it was too late!

 How did you balance her questionable choices and her fabulous sense of humor?

It wasn’t so much a question of balance as much as trying to find a way to make the reader like Meda despite her questionable choices. Meda is pretty horrible; she murders someone in the first chapter and plans her second by chapter three. She is selfish and greedy and manipulative.  Even her decision to murder only bad guys is largely self-interested.  With all that working against her I needed something to make the reader turn the page. They might not root for her, but I wanted them to like her.  Meda is a guilty pleasure--I wanted the reader to giggle along with her even as they know they shouldn’t.

Mission accomplished! She is perhaps one of the most interesting characters I've come across in a really long time. Can you talk a little about the challenges you faced writing her?

Thank you!

Besides making the reader like someone so awful, another challenge was that Meda is an unreliable narrator.  What she thinks she feels isn’t the same as what she actually feels a lot of the time (if that makes sense).  So I had to keep two story lines running in my head at all times--one of Meda’s actions which shows her true feelings, and the inner monologue which demonstrates what she thinks she feels.  Both of those story lines each have to have their own motivations, as well, i.e. why she feels the way she feels, and why she thinks she feels a different way.  And lastly, it has to be done subtly enough so the reader recognizes the conflict but doesn’t want to slam their head against the wall at the the main character’s inability to recognize something so obvious.  It can get a bit tricky to keep it all straight!

I also adored that Meda didn’t have a love interest in Cracked. It was different and so surprising. Why did you choose to leave Meda without a love interest, which is very unusual in YA, and focus on the romance of secondary characters instead?

Because breaking rules is addictive.  Even though I didn’t quite realize how uncommon a YA-girl-anti-hero is, I knew I was going against the norm, and once I started, I couldn’t stop. Most YA books, especially with female protagonists, have romances, so I didn’t. Plus, there’s been a lot of griping on the interwebs about the romantic element in YA recently, so I thought it’d be fun to set the reader up to expect it by introducing a handsome male hero in the very beginning (I imagined the readers rolling their eyes and bracing for insta-love)--then surprise them when it never happens.  Of  course that cat’s out of the bag now, lol, but it was fun while it lasted :). Another reason I don’t have a romance for Meda, though, is just practical--I’m not nearly a talented enough writer to make a monster like her believably fall in love in 300 pages.

Thanks so much for having me, Maja!

Thank you for stopping by!

Eliza Crewe always thought she’d be a lawyer, and even went so far as to complete law school. But as they say, you are what you eat, and considering the number of books Eliza has devoured since childhood, it was inevitable she’d end up in the literary world. She abandoned the lawyer-plan to instead become a librarian and now a writer.

While she’s been filling notebooks with random scenes for years, Eliza didn’t seriously commit to writing an entire novel until the spring of 2011, when she and her husband bought a house. With that house came a half-hour commute, during which Eliza decided she needed something to think about other than her road-rage. Is it any surprise she wrote a book about a blood-thirsty, people-eating monster?

Eliza has lived in Illinois, Edinburgh, and Las Vegas, and now lives in North Carolina with her husband, her hens, her angry, talking, stuffed dwarf giraffe, and a sweet, mute, pantomiming bear. She likes to partially-complete craft projects, free-range her hens, and take long walks. Cracked is her first novel.

Thanks to the lovely people at Strange Chemistry, you can now enter to win a copy of Cracked. My review is scheduled for November 4th, but trust me when I tell you, you want to give this book a chance. Even if you don't win here, make sure to get a copy when the time comes. :)
The giveaway is international. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. When I seen how much you love main character here I have no doubts I'll love her too. I tend to love the characters we're supposed to hate and I cannot wait to discover everything about Meda, which will be soon. Amazing interview ladies :)

  2. YAY for no love interest! It's so pleasing to not have one from time to time. I love characters that have a good sense of humour so I will be keeping an eye on this one!

    Great interview! <33

  3. I think when they put so much emphasis on having a like able character, it is because they worry that if you don't have one then your book won't sell sort of thing. But if you consider how many people adore Wuthering Heights, whose characters are completely appalling at times, I would say that having a like able character has little to do with the success of the story. Thanks for posting this!!

  4. Can I just say that I loved that Cracked broke all the rules? It worked and it really worked well.

    I love that she wasn't your typical heroine or that she didn't have a moral compass most of the time and I even loved that she didn't have a romantic just worked in this.

  5. I love anti-heroes. Of course, it's a fine line and they can't stray too far from the line of ambiguity or do anything too heinous or that love turns quickly to hate. This story sounds GREAT and I LOVE that cover!

  6. Color me intrigued Maja! I'm already fascinated by Meda and want to know everything there is to know about her. While I'm of course bummed there's no romance (I can't help it!), I do love that she decided to go in such a different direction and give us something outside the standard YA formula. I'm really excited for this one now!!!

  7. Wow, no love interest for the main character? Yep, you definitely piqued my interest with this one. Plus I think it's cool that the female MC is an anti-hero. Don' t see those very often in YA.

  8. Cracked sounds cool, I have to read it

  9. Definitely this post,interview increased my interest to read this book,sounds unique and very interesting :)

  10. I'm very interested in this book and I was supposed to get an ARC, but the mail messed up :( It sounds like such a different book with the anti-hero-MC :D

  11. Not only did the fact that Chime was mentioned thrill me, but the acknowledgment of blurred lines when it comes to this character makes me so excited to read this. I cannot wait, so thanks for putting this on my radar, Maja!(:

  12. Oh I'm so curious about this character! I love the idea of a girl-anti-hero. I think that is unusual and that makes me want to read it. I also don't mind the lack of romance as long as the characters rock! What a great interview!

  13. I'm really anxious to read this book. It's so uniquely different from what I've been reading lately. I love that she is kinda bad and humorous.

  14. Great post, this was already on my wishlist and I loved learning more about the character

  15. oh gosh I just ran and added this one to my wishlist, love the sound of it. Love my paranormals <3 so brand new ones always make me happy. Plus, Meda sounds very original!

  16. I have never been a girl who likes to color in the lines so I think I would get along with Medea just fun. I am most curious about this book and I look forward to reading especially since it breaks rules.

  17. You had me at: "I have to fight the Hunger, the Hunger that drives me to hunt people and eat their souls." Wow, I need to get to know Medea, scary and fun! Thanks for the great author guest post :)

  18. Great interview!! I think this book sounds awesome. I love when you get bad characters as the MC. You might not AGREE with them, but it's always interesting to see how they think. :) Plus, I love the idea of a romance-free YA novel.

  19. Would the character in this book technically be called a Succubus because she's a soul eater??

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. I thought her answer to the question about not giving Meda a love interest. I thought it was an interesting answer. But now question Eliza going to give Meda a love interest in the future?

  21. I love anti-heroes, so I can't wait to meet Meda! I love how unique this story sounds, and what a rule breaker the author is. :-) Looking forward to your review, but I have a feeling I know the general consensus, so perhaps I should order my copy now!

  22. It's refreshing to see no love interest for a change. Thanks for sharing the interview - I now have a much better understanding about Meda. And it's inspirational to see Eliza abandoning her lawyer's plan and become a writer!

  23. Great interview! I love interesting characters, it's so boring to see Mary Sue's all of the time. This sounds absolutely intriguing! Thanks for the giveaway! :D

  24. I'm excited to hear about there not being a love interest too! ^_^ I never liked romance aspects in books, and it's been getting annoying that there's always "boy problems" for female protagonists. Also interesting that humor was used to make a "bad" character likeable! Usually, when someone is talking about why they like a person, "they're funny" is one of the first things that come to mind. So I guess humor is one of those traits that is universally appealing.

  25. Great interview. Interesting characters,too.Would love to get my hands on this one coz its not yet available at my end.

  26. Bookmarking this interview! Anti-heroes, especially females, are something I've been wanting more of. I am so happy you just did it before the "advice" online might have convinced you not to try. Cannot wait to read this.

  27. Sounds like a great book! Love the cover and anit-heroes sounds very interesting.


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