When Angry Robot’s YA imprint Strange Chemistry closed last June, many of their authors were unfortunately left in limbo mid-series. One of them was Eliza Crewe, whose book Crushed, the second book in the Soul-Eater series, was due to be published in August. Luckily, the rights were reverted back to Eliza and she decided to self-publish the first two books, Cracked and Crushed, and presumably will finish the series that way. While I still need to read both of the books – they’re on my teetering TBR-pile – I wanted to ask Eliza some questions, both about the books and about the process of self-publishing. Today I’m one of the stops on Eliza’s Crushed blog tour and she’s here to answer my questions.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Eliza Crewe?
I’m a very-unexciting mom-librarian-hen-keeper.
How would you introduce people to your main character Meda?
A deliciously-evil people-eating monster girl
My favorite thing about Meda is how doesn’t apologize for who she is. Even in Crushed, when she genuinely tries to be good, she doesn’t beat herself up when she fails (even if everyone else does!).
As for her world, I like that Meda has the ability to conclusively identify evil people and stop them. Wouldn’t it be nice if things were so simple?
Authors are known to say their characters take on a life and mind of their own. Did Meda try to get her own way in the story or is she a well-behaved protagonist?
She definitely had a mind of her own. So often my plot seemed well-planned, but then I got to writing it and I couldn’t make it work. Usually it’s when I needed Meda to do something stupid. Too often, I realized Meda would never do what I wanted her to, no matter how convenient is would be for me, and I had to rework that section.
How quickly did you decide to self (re-)publish your books after Strange Chemistry folded? What has the process been like?
I decided instantly–it just took a while to get Angry Robot (Strange Chemistry’s parent company, and who my contract is actually with) to let me. Basically, I had two options: try to find another publisher or do it myself. For starters, I didn’t want to find a new publisher because it would seriously delay the release of Crushed. I’d have to find a publisher, then negotiate the deal, then fit my books into their schedule. It probably would have taken a year, if not longer, and I didn’t want to do that to my readers.
Secondly, Strange Chemistry folding made me realize how little power I, as an author, have compared to my publisher. Short of suing, there wasn’t much I could do to get my rights back or get paid–basically I was reduced to polite emails and finger-crossing. I really feel lucky that I was able to get my rights back without having to go to court. I still haven’t managed to get paid, but hey, I’m still calling it a win.
I’m not saying I would never sign with another publisher, just that, in reality, the only publisher who would want the Soul Eater series would probably be another small one in a minor deal with minor money, and I’m not willing to let my books go again so easily. Granted, I’ll have no marketing, no advance, no distribution, and no non-POD print version, and a hella-lot of work, but I’ll have my books and they’ll be out there for the people who want to read them. That’s the important thing.
Definitely circumstances pushed me into it. Self-pubbing is a LOT of formatting and administration and paperwork. Not fun!
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
I don’t have anything planned, but I think I might go Wizard Con in Raleigh this spring, since it’s so close.
Is there something else you’re passionate about other than writing and books?
As a book reviewer, I’m all about the book enabling; I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
Well, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m most looking forward to reading Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine: a slaughter house + The Phantom of the Opera + historical = gimme, gimme, gimme.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
Um, please don’t revoke my librarian card, but I, ah, use the “closet pile” system. In a desperate attempt to get sleep, we moved the baby’s crib into our room, and had to take the shelves out to make room. The books have been “temporarily” stored in the closet for about a year now.
Thanks for having me!
Bio: 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, daughter, hens, an 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.