As promised last week, I got the opportunity to put one of our newest authors and her book under the microscope. That author is the queen of occult thrillers herself, Eden Crowne, and her book is "Cursed Objects." Unlike many of the other authors that we put under the microscope, this is not her novel debut. Eden Crowne has published a big stack of successful books, the latest of which is Cursed Objects which is her first book by Private Dragon. Eden is known for her powerful stories and a long list of strong female protagonists.
I'm testing out a new format (interview style) for this Microscope, so comment below which way you prefer or if it doesn't make a difference to you.
Tell us about yourself. Hobbies, interests, general information, etc.
I have been an Ex-Pat (expatriate) living overseas since I was twenty. In my other life and another name–separate from being a novelist–I was a journalist based in Asia specializing in technology, emerging industries, marketing, pop culture, and travel. I freelanced or worked as a columnist or correspondent for many major international publications.
I like to travel. Full stop. My first trip overseas in my teens was a six-week study safari in East Africa with a stopover in London. I was the youngest of the group! The travel mania is related to my interests in history, archeology, and art: European, Asian, and the Near East.
As you can guess, I am a total museum hound. My favorite museums are the National Gallery in London, the British Museum, the Louvre, the Prado, in Madrid, the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, the Altes and Neus Museums plus the Pergamon in Berlin, and the many amazing traveling exhibits that come to the Tokyo National Museum complex in Ueno. Not a huge fan of modern art though I love Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama.
I use my interest in art and archeology and a corresponding focus on folklore and mythology to fuel the magic behind my Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance stories. The Babylonian sculpture collection in the British Museum sparked many ideas for my otherworld characters.
I am back and forth to California a lot, either LA or my place on the beach in NorCal. I love setting my books in LA and all the places I hang out. I also want to write a cozy paranormal mystery series set in Monterey on the Central Coast and have already started the first draft.
Espresso is a passion. I don’t like milky sweet drinks, blah, blech, yuck! Just espresso, hot or iced. Drink the bitter water!! Readers will see I work coffee into all of my books. The morning can’t start without espresso. I generally spend my mornings writing in a café wherever I am in the world. Most days of the week it’s me, my double espresso, and my work in progress at a café table. But I can work anywhere, thanks to my training as a journalist and endless tight deadlines. Trains, planes, food courts, airports, at the mall, anyplace.
Late afternoon or evening I am happy to move on to wine or beer – bubbly too! All of my main characters also like beer because they are basically me. LOL! Oh, and salty food. I tend to work French fries or potato chips into a lot of books as well. How can you not like potato chips! Not a sweet eater. I would rather spend my calories on a glass of wine and something salty, thank you very much.
What was your early life like?
I grew up in California, smart, imaginative, and inquisitive. I loved books, horses, swimming, Johnny Quest, James Bond, and adventure – not always in that order. I was always the one to come up with the ideas for games and stories. At night I would put myself to sleep making up stories in my head that continued night after night as a TV series.
We lived in a university town so there was always a mix of cultures and educational or cultural events. My mom loved the theater, museums, music, festivals, and any event involving foreign cultures. I’d been to countless O-Bon festivals and Chinese New Year celebrations long before moving to the Far East! She started me down the path of embracing the world from the time I could walk.
But she was a hard-working single mom. I spent a lot of time on my own. Riding my bike with my friends all over town, swimming at the public pool, hanging out at the children’s and later the main library.
Being on my own so much made me extraordinarily independent and able to think on my feet. I was crazy for horses and a real cowgirl who could barrel race and pole bend – much to my mother’s confusion who was a ‘Lady’ in every sense of the word. I also rode drill team. Yee h! So funny to who I am now. You could not pay me to own a horse. I hate being tied down.
I read world mythology, folk, and fairy tales voraciously. I discovered science fiction and was devoted to Andre Norton and the British TV series Dr. Who. So odd when I think I am not really attracted to writing science fiction. It’s the magical element that always catches my imagination in my own stories. I feel like we don’t get to choose. Somehow, it’s hard-wired into our creative psyche.
How did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing my whole life. Even if it was only in my head. I was lucky enough to be in an excellent school system with an emphasis on creative writing and all the arts. We learned to write poetry rather than read it, for example.
I like words. I do.
My major in college was Far East Studies. Given my location in Asia and my wide-ranging knowledge of the cultures there, it was a natural and conscious decision to become a journalist and write for a living. Not that it wasn’t dang hard. No one just hands out assignments. Every day, every year was a scramble to come up with ideas, find new gigs, woo new editors, it was an endless struggle. But when you are a writer, you must write. That’s all there is to it. You can’t NOT write.
What attracted you to writing in this particular genre?
Isn’t that a question! Why magic? There are so many easier subjects to write about like thrillers, for example. Your character is under attack. Pull out a gun and blam, blam. But magic? First, I have to figure out the spell – if there is even one for what’s happening – and how to put it into words. What does the spell do? What’s the cost? What about the counterspell from the attacker? Augh!
I blame my mother’s collection of fairy tales of the world. Not picture books. Wonderful thick volumes with old color illustrations or lithographs. What was amazing was that she had zero interest in them. I don’t know who talked her into buying the collection, but God bless them! They were for me and I devoured them. They also stimulated my love affair with mythology. I was fascinated by the Greek and Roman myths from early childhood. Other kids read Winnie the Pooh. I ready Jason and the Argonauts, Theseus, and Perseus.
I think I chose Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance because I believe there is so much more to this world than we know. Physics backs this up! Though I haven’t mentioned it, I also love science and am fascinated by Quantum Physics. Spooky action at a distance? Oh, I am there. String and Chaos theory has inspired many ideas! I often write in my books that magic and physics have a lot in common.
What started you down the path that led to writing this book? Did anyone/anything specific inspire you?
Like most of my books, an idea or a theory just pops into my head. I swear the Greek Muses exist because so often I don’t know where the ideas come from. They fall into my brain and I am like, “Huh? What?” Cursed Objects started out with seeing a young witch in my head. She was visiting a haunted house and stumbles on twin ghosts -- brothers. The brothers are cursed. Initially, I had one of the brothers being evil but that went out the window very quickly. I wanted to like them both, for readers to like them both, too. Somehow there was a crystal or object involved in those first images.
I liked the idea and began to give it some real thought. I knew the main character needed to be a witch and I thought breaking curses would be an interesting sort of magic to research and write about. I am fascinated by the idea of curses in all their many forms.
I decided she needed to be older – not a YA book -- but still establishing herself. I liked the idea of having an agency, making her a magical P.I. She had to struggle, so no parents to help her out and money is tight. But…what happened to the parents? That led to keeping it related to the agency’s work with curse breaking, the danger inherent in their work, and the larger story of the Hidden Worlds.
She, Riley O’Ryan, should be on her own. Things shouldn’t come too easily to characters! A boyfriend or not? You’ll have to read the book to find out what I decided about that. Friends are important and the whole story of her best friend, her friend’s parents, and their history together just fell into my head. Complete. Poof. I knew who they were immediately. Muses, right?
I wanted my main characters to spark off each other –exasperation rather than love! I like to put a lot of humor in my books – my main character is often a lot like me – and having the ghost be a pain in the butt was the perfect solution.
The idea of The Thirteen Families, the magical association of witches, let me take the plot to a different level. Small threats paired with larger ones drive the story and subsequent books forward. A good book is all about lots of conflicts!
Could you tell us about your writing process? Is it all in your head or is there some sort of system that you use? Do you have a special place or equipment that you like to use to write?
I do not have a system. Like I said, it must be the muses. Story ideas come and never stop. I have a whole list of plots screaming at me to write the books.
I am a very organic writer. Once I have a good character and idea of where the story can go, I KNOW it will come. It’s there in my imagination, waiting. I just have to work it out. Is it hard and exhausting? Oh hell, yes. But I know instinctively when something is right. Of course, it helps that I was a journalist. I have been a professional writer most of my life. I understand pacing, editing, what my voice is, and all those skills that come with experience. I know to listen to my inner voice.
Research is an important element as you can imagine. I research magic, magical processes, magical creatures, myths, folktales, ghost stories, languages, all of that. That research so often leads to serendipitous discoveries that I expand and spin to fit the plot. For example, in one European museum, I found a nasty little statue of a Mesopotamian god. He was the demon god of the wind. I thought, okay, this is interesting. I researched him and put him in the first of my Dust to Dust series, Fangs for the Memories.
Museums are a great place for inspiration. One of my visits to the Babylonian wing at the British Museum inspired several creatures in different books. I will go to a museum and just wander. If there’s a spark there for one of my current projects, it will come.
Is the book part of a series? If so, how long will it be and how much have you planned out so far?
Cursed Objects is definitely planned as a series. My witch needs to find out about her parents, the plans of the witchy cabal, and how the ghostly Count is related to all of it. So much story waiting to happen!
I have only planned a bit into the second book since I have been busy working on my Girl’s Guide to Voodoo Bounty Hunting Series, but Curse Breaker Riley O’Ryan is on my mind. I do have a fascinating curse for her to work out in the second book. All I can say is that it involves Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Peter Pan, and a mobster, and it's set in Las Vegas. This is going to be wild, Riley.
Do you plan on writing after this series/book? What sort of books do you think you will write after this?
I have several series already out independently. Urban Fantasy is my favorite genre. I plan to write book four of my Evie Grace, Avenging Angel series; and Book Four or maybe by then Book five of my fun Girl’s Guide to Voodoo Bounty Hunting series. And don’t forget I have to start the Cozy Paranormal Mystery series set in Monterey (It’s going to be called The Monterey Widows and Orphans Club…)!
What do you want your readers to take away from your novel?
That the universe is full of surprises. Whatever we think we know is only a fraction of all that is out there. There is so much more to life and the afterlife. I feel the afterlife is wonderous and full of possibilities. I am absolutely planning on seeing my dog, Alex, there! Also, the value of friends and the ‘found families’ we create from people we care about. And don’t forget hope. I always write about hope.
You've probably gathered a lot of information and context about Cursed Objects but here's the spoiler-free summary that Eden wrote about the book:
Being a witch is not all fun and games. With magic comes not only wonderous power but the high probability of horrible death. At twenty-five, orphaned curse-breaker and Private Eye Riley O’Ryan heads R.I.P. Investigations. All the other R’s, I’s, and P’s having died. Horribly, of course.
Riley seeks justice, espresso, cash, and maybe a nice hazy IPA in equal measure. She does not seek love. Not anymore. She would also like to stay alive. Unfortunately, her clients, her coven, the walking dead, and the vodka guzzling ghost of a Russian Imperial Cavalry officer banished to the demon-haunted Shadowlands are making that dammed hard.
Riley knows a lot about the Shadowlands. When she was nineteen, something came out of that dark place. It murdered her father and took her mother. No one, not her Coven, not her brother, not her aunt, would help Riley find a way to enter that world and save her mother.
When she’s asked by a celebrity couple to break the curse on a fire-starting jeweled Romanov Egg, she has hope for the first time in years. The egg holds the spirit of an incredibly annoying Russian Cavalry Officer. On the eve of the Russian Revolution, a spell banished him and his twin brother to the Shadowlands. Riley can’t really blame the witch because dang, he is a self-entitled royal pain in the butt. The hex tied him to the enchanted egg. His brother, though, was lost somewhere in the magic. He wants Riley to break his curse and help him find his twin brother.
Riley is happy to oblige but not for the reasons Count Alexander Ivanovitch believes. He is her key to entering the Shadowlands. That and only that is why she’s helping him because whatever killed her father and took her mother is back and it wants Riley.
You can learn more about Eden Crowne or any of her other series not published with Private Dragon on her website. I highly recommend checking it out.
Comment from: Christy Visitor
Fantastic interview! I loved learning more about Eden and her writing process. Can’t wait for Cursed Objects!