It is with great pleasure that I am hosting another Cider With A Writer, where we whine and wine with writers. Joining us today is Eliza Crewe, author is the immensely popular Soul Eater series. Hello, Eliza! Thank you so much for joining me today. To start off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi Inge, and thanks for having me! I am a 30-ish mom, librarian, and writer. I’ve always been an avid reader but had never written more than random scenes until about three years ago, when I decided to attempt my first book. I’ve been addicted ever since.
First of all, I’d like to compliment you on creating such a delicious mix of humour and fantasy. You don’t see that a lot nowadays and I loved it! How did you come up with the idea of Cracked?
Thank you! Cracked is actually an (over)reaction to the book I wrote right before it. In that book, the main character is a timid little thing with low self-esteem. I really liked that character, but after months in her head I was ready for something drastically different. That’s when Meda was born.
I absolutely love your main character Meda, because she’s sarcastic and snarky on a level that I can relate to. How much of yourself did you put into her? Or is she based on someone you know?
No, she’s not based on someone I know (fortunately!), but I have to admit, she probably does have quite a bit of me in her. I actually “wrote” most of her scenes while stuck in rush-hour traffic–Meda is my road-rage personified.
Do you think we all have a little good and bad in us?
I definitely think most people are a mix (though hopefully not too many with Meda’s ratio).
Your publishing company Strange Chemistry went under before you had the chance to publish Crushed. You’re now self-publishing. What is the biggest difference? Pros and cons of this decision?
Self-publishing is just. so. tedious. There are so many different formats (MOBI, ePub, PDF, print etc), and they all have different formatting requirements (section breaks v. paragraph breaks, font size, indents, etc). The platforms to self-pub are really buggy (I’m looking at you, Nook press!), or they don’t give you a lot of options (Smashwords, for example, won’t let me limit territories). And, beyond formats, there’s all the different stores (like ibooks and Google play) and their requirements. It’s a mess–and worse, a boring mess!
Publicizing is a lot harder now, too, and definitely not something I enjoy. Most of the time, I feel like a deranged street-hawker “book for sale, one people-eating-monster-girl-book for sale!” Also, Strange Chemistry, as a publisher, could do things I can’t. For example, Cracked was reviewed by both Kirkus and Booklist. If there even is a way for self-pubbed authors to do that, I bet it’s a lot harder. Strange Chemistry was also able to get Cracked as a Daily Deal on Amazon, which I don’t think indy authors can do unless you sign up for the Select program (I didn’t because they make you exclusively sell it through Amazon, which isn’t fair to my readers who don’t have kindles). So now, I don’t have any of that PR support any more. Fortunately, friends telling friends about a good book is still the best way to get the word out there, and I have an awesome (and vocal!) fan base.
On the other hand, I LOVE the certainty and the control of self-publishing. For starters, with a publisher, you’re stuck on their schedule. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your day job or your personal life–you’re on a deadline. That can be pretty tough at times. The other issue is the power balance between publishers and authors. When Strange Chemistry went under, I realized just how little power I actually have. I was stuck–all my hard work, potentially just going down the drain–because who knew if I would ever get my rights back? Not to mention actually getting paid. Short of suing, there’s not much you can do if they just refuse to send your checks. It’s a pretty scary situation to be in.
Are you going to continue to self-publish, or are you trying to find another publishing company to love you?
I’m not going to look for another publisher for the Soul-Eater series, and even if one came to me, I’d probably say no. The reality is, the only publisher who would offer would mostly likely be a small one, and I think I’ve had my taste of those for a while. My distribution will probably stay small–just my existing fans–but I’m cool with that.
Cracked has received a lot of love, from myself included. How can we help?
Thanks Inge! Spreading the word is the single most helpful thing a reader can do. Goodreads reviews and status updates, Amazon reviews, etc. are all crucial for a self-pubbed author. Our success or failure is entirely determined by the fervor of our fans.
Worst case scenario: your writing career goes down the drain (sorry for the depressing thought). Do you have any back-up plans as to what you’d want to do with your life?
Haha, well, the good (bad?) news is that writing is very small part of my life. I think if you worked out my hourly wage, it would be pennies. Writing is a hobby, like my coloring, or sewing ridiculous outfits for my daughter. I do it because I enjoy it, and I’ll keep doing it as long as I keep enjoying it.
Awesome case scenario: let’s say your book gets turned into a movie. What would be your perfect cast for Meda, Chi, Jo, and Uri?
Oh man, I’m terrible at this! I know almost no actors or actresses. The only one I can come up with is Meda, who would be played by that creepy, evil girl from Big Love, Daveigh Chase.
Jo’s looks are actually based off a girl I used to work with. She once said she wanted to be an actress, and since I wanted to be a writer, I said I’d write her in as Jo (looks only! My coworker is a complete sweetheart), so if our dreams ever came true, they’d match up perfectly J. 🙂
As for Chi, the closest I can think of is the guy who plays Cato in Hunger Games.
Uri – hopeless. I don’t know any young boy actors!
Are you working on anything else besides the Soul Eater series?
Not right now. I have a couple partially-completed books that I’d like to get back to, but right now my focus is on finishing up book 3 in the Soul-Eater series.
What are some of your favourite authors/books?
Ah, the hardest question there is. L.M. Montgomery, Tamora Pierce, Madeleine L’Engle, Mercedes Lackey, Megan Whalen Turner, are some of my all-time favorites. More recently, I’ve really enjoyed Chime by Franny Billingsly, The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey, and The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis.
Last but not least: do you have anything to say to the readers?
Just, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them!
Thank you so much!
Thanks for having me!