Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Author: Emily Craven

About the book:

Madeline Cain knows that after six chaotic months, the rest of her time in New York City will be smooth sailing with Kevin -- her new squeeze -- by her side. That is, until Madeline's idols drop a bombshell - she needs to pick a specialisation before the year is out or risk losing the career of her dreams. The problem? She's about as sure of her photographic passion as a hiker is of outrunning a bear.

Thus Madeline begins her search for her one true path with student-arranged assignments featuring certifiably insane children, lip-synching rockers, a dog whisperer, and . . .  zombies? But it’s not until Madeline secures a 'life-debt' by saving a potential mobster from a gun-wielding cross-dresser that she sets her sights on an amazing internship opportunity.

Is her new patron really part of the mob? Can she nail this internship when all her experiments are going to hell? And how does she deal with Kevin's obsession over her escapades?

Written as though you’re reading Madeline's Facebook page, Adventures in Fashion will leave you giggling on the floor as Maddie posts about the second half of her Big Apple adventure.

Interview with Emily Craven

Emily, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I’d like to say I’ve been a writer since I was old enough to tell the difference between dirt and food but that would be a lie. I originally started writing when I was twelve, after I learnt one of my favourite authors, Isobelle Carmody, started her first book at 14. I worked on that book throughout high school and over the years have refined (though never released) it. I’m all for experimentation in my work (which may confuse a few first time readers of the Madeline Cain series), so I’ve decided to turn this book into a serial podcast and see what happens. Most writers move on from their first manuscripts, but I just can’t leave the disabled darlings alone. The constant tinkering has shown me how to get things right in the first place, with each of my successive books getting better as a result. It took me a good decade to realize the key to writing is planting your butt in a seat and just seeing where those dancing fingers will take you. Generally mine take me to the land of truly horrible drafts.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
Much to my disgust, yes.  But then again, the ‘day’ job isn’t all that bad, at least it allows me to speak to someone other than my inner editor. I run real life choose-your-own-adventures around various cities and towns in Australia. I pull together writers, artists, and musicians to create stories where participants will find themselves trying to bring down an alien invasion in Adelaide, or trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in Brisbane, as they run about the city. Last year, I turned this project (originally known as Street Reads) into a GPS app called Story City and hope to start doing adventures for cities in other countries sometime soon. Who hasn’t read a book where they actually wanted to be part of it?!

How did you create the plot for this book?
The Madeline Cain series came about when I was in a writing rut. I normally write fantasy but found the creative juices just weren't enough to fill a glass. So I decided to challenge myself to write a novel in a month and it was going to be FUN! This ended up being the first book in a series – after two years of frequent beatings with a red pen. Originally, I started sourcing ideas from friends on Facebook and I thought, why stop at brain storming? This is how I communicate with my friends, particularly when I travel overseas, and the most entertaining parts of my day are via posts on the social media site. We were telling each other our life stories, and I didn’t see why it couldn’t work as a narrative. And, frankly, my friends are nuts, they bring the funnies like a troop of clowns from a clown car.

In this particular book in the series, I wanted to explore the multitude of options available to Madeline and the painful process of elimination. The plotting process involved a lot of out-of-the-blue conversations with writing friends asking them things like: “How would you feel about your boyfriend recording all of your conversations for a TV show?” “If you got locked in an elevator with your ex-best friend who was wearing nothing but a bright pink bra, would you get revenge on him? Or just threaten to?”
I think my friends worry about leaving me alone for too long ...

Tell us a book by an indie author for which you’re an evangelist.
Hands down I am evangelistic for Hugh Howey and his Wool series. An awesome dystopian/thriller with wonderful writing, prickly characters and a super detailed world. Plus Hugh is a champion of indie authors in general which just endears him to me even more.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Oh my favourite characters were by far my most eccentric, and they weren’t even human! My sister said she wanted an umbrella called Laani (her name) as part of my story. I thought to myself, ‘you wouldn’t name an umbrella unless it could talk.’ And what would be the point of making an umbrella talk unless it caused chaos? If I was an umbrella and was only brought out to be rained on, I’d have a few things to say about that. As this wasn’t a fantasy novel, I had to fall back on the age old excuse of ‘mechanics’ to make the umbrella talk, but it was worth it! Laani became one of the major features of the novels. I even got my sister to record some of the sayings of Laani, the abusive umbrella,so I could give them away as freebies to my readers. There’s nothing like making your sister pretend to be a grouchy old umbrella for your own amusement.

My other favourite character to write was a chameleon called Duncan who could move from one side of the room to the other in a blink of an eye and scare the living daylights out of you. Another friend had requested that there be a chameleon somewhere within the plot, back in the days when I was writing the first novel of the series. I asked myself what I knew about chameleons. It wasn’t much. I thought they were Mexican (turns out no), and I knew they could camouflage themselves. So I turned to a more interesting question, what would be more terrifying than something you can’t see scaring the living daylights out of you? I decided it was something you can’t see AND that can move faster than you. Hence Duncan’s super hero speedy powers coming into play. My characters kind of ran away from me after that, I think that’s why they’re so vivid. They are the entirety of my crazy, shoved into two tiny and deliciously wacky characters.

What would your main character say about you?
She’d tell me I spend too much time inside and I should be having my own adventures rather than writing hers.
With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
Easy, some of my favourite authors! Diana Wynne Jones, Neil Gaiman, Tamora Pierce, Meg Cabot, and Cecelia Ahern.

One of them is dead, but what’s a party without a ghost?

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
My favourite scene in the book is when Madeline decides on her future path after she saves a man from a gun-wielding cross-dresser. Full of innuendo, pros and cons lists, and a little divine intervention, it was by far the most ludicrous and the most utterly perfect scene of the whole book. It sets off a chain of madness Madeline couldn’t hope to stop. It is, of course, blowing everything out of proportion that causes the problems in the first place.

Neil Gaiman said, “Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you'd most like not to lose.” So...what are your five favorite books and your five body parts you’d most like not to lose?
In no particular order:
A Sudden Wild Magic: Diana Wynne Jones
A Place Called Here: Cecelia Ahern
Boy Meets Girl: Meg Cabot
Mediator series (Yes I know it’s a series is not a book. But you can’t make me choose between them!): Meg Cabot
Alanna The Lioness series (*pokes out tongue*): Tamora Pierce.

And body parts:
Fingers, hands, feet, eyes, tongue: all the things I need to write books, see new places, and have interesting and silly conversations.

Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?
Hands down a library; not only could you recommend books to people (and actually have them follow through with the read by borrowing them) but you also get to borrow all the new books first! If I worked in a bookstore I would have to worry about sales numbers, and rude customers, and shoplifting, and sending books to be destroyed because they didn’t sell. Much too depressing, give me those big vaulted archives any day!

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Anything hey ... Well as long as you’re offering to pay, I’m going to take a first class flight to somewhere new, set up in the fanciest restaurant I can find, and people watch while sipping very expensive wine. Thanks for shouting, you’re the best.

What’s that? I have to find my own way home? Bugger.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Einstein.

What’s your favorite candy bar?
Whittakers milk chocolate coconut slab. Heaven in a bar straight from New Zealand.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a short novella in the Madeline Cain series that happens before the two books. I wanted to give readers a taste of the Madeline Cain world before her New York trip. When it is finally ready, it will be available for free.

And speaking of free, if you grab a copy of ‘Madeline Cain: Adventures In Fashion’ before the end of this virtual blog tour (4th of March) and email me your receipt at, I will send you the first book in the Madeline Cain series, The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain, for free!

About the author:

Emily Craven was first inspired to place pen to paper when she was 12, after she learnt her favourite author, Isobelle Carmody, began her first novel at 14. Emily finished two manuscripts while completing a Bachelor of Science (Space Science and Astrophysics and Geophysics) at the University of Adelaide. So technically, she can claim to be an astrophysicist (stars), geophysicist (rocks), and writer (crazy). She writes YA fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction. Emily lives in Australia, and yes, back when she was a teenager her high school had its own herd of Kangaroos. She's been to almost every continent (Africa being her weakness in continent-domination) and has the pretty photographs to prove it (though probably less professional than Madeline Cain...) 

Unusual talents and hobbies include: Getting excited at the thought of sky diving (though if you try to attach her to the end of a bungee cord she will take you down with her). She loves belly dancing, singing, is a self-confessed Trekkie, and will never pass up a good bar of chocolate. If you put her anywhere in the vicinity of snow, she turns into a five year old.

Connect with Emily:
Website  |  Blog (writing)  |  Blog (publishing)  |  Story City  |  Facebook  |  Twitter