I interview the enigmatic CN Crawford

Thank you for coming over to this blog. Sorry for the mess, been bit of a dump around here lately. Uh, have a seat between the ferns. So, what’s with the parrot?

We have a bird thing going. Book three is going to have some pirates, and probably some parrot familiars. It’s like the old adage says, “put a bird on it.”

That video. lol. So the CN in C.N. Crawford is two people apparently. Explain why you’re not crazy.

Either there are actually two of us, or it’s just me in a yellowed wedding dress with a moldering rat-eaten cake screaming into a dead garden about a husband. I’m not going to tell you which of these is true. 

Since you’re not crazy, why is there a knife in both your hands? I don’t do interviews like this.

It’s for your own good. There’s a better place for you than this world. Or at least better than Canada. 

*Whistles Canadian anthem* Since you’re definitely not crazy or murderous, tell us what roles each of you serve in writing the book.

Nick started working on the book, with the idea that it would be about a witch-boy traveling from a magical world into ours. It began with a crow flying to a creepy old school in Boston. I started doing some world-building, which was very history-focused since that’s my main interest. Then I started taking over the writing of the story. Apart from a few scenes that Nick started, mostly I would write a draft, and Nick would go over it after. The plot came out of discussions between the two of us.I’m gradually taking over almost all of this series, but Nick has another series in the back of his mind, which I’m excited about. He’s an evolutionary biologist, and he’s working on an idea for a thriller about a genetic researcher who uncovers a supernatural conspiracy.

How violent is your working relationship? If it’s not violent, can you make something juicy up? This is practically Jerry Springer here. I mean, look at the raving loons in the audience.

It was pretty tame for the writing, but making crafts for our giveaway was awful. There were super-glued hands, tables getting bumped, bubbles in the resin… It was brutal. Sometimes Nick still wakes up in a cold sweat, shouting, “So many microbeads glued to my fingers!” Never make crafts with a loved one. Just don’t.

No crafts with the wife. Got it. So I bought and read The Witching Elm and really enjoyed it, particularly how Toby and Fiona grew on me as the story went along. It’s a best seller in the occult subgenre, with excellent reviews. How does it feel seeing your baby do so well?

It feels great! It’s hard sending it out into the world, but I’ve really enjoyed reading people’s responses. I especially love when people home in on my favorite things about the book, which are the humor and the creepiness. 

How would you describe your book to a new reader in the genre?

One of the blog reviewers described it as “what we would have had if Joss Whedon wrote Harry Potter,” which might be my favorite description, since I love Joss Whedon. A few other people have noted comparisons to the show Sleepy Hollow. I haven’t see the show yet, but I think it also draws on morbid American history in its world-building.

Speaking of Potter, if Toby [lead protagonist] got in a fight with Harry, who’d win?

Toby would eat him alive, assuming he had his pike. Toby’s often missing his pike, though he will gain access to weapons in the sequels. As a psychologist, the phallic reference is not lost on me.

What type of person is NOT going to enjoy your book?

Someone who’s dead inside. Or I guess, someone who doesn’t like dark fantasy.

The story is set in Boston. Give me two lines in a Boston accent.

We’re evacuatin the youngest philawsiphas. You three ah goin to Boston fuh safety, to Mathah Academy. Now get me a spuckie and take a dudley, ya haw-mongas.*
 
*(That last line is not in the book, and is in a deep boston accent decipherable only to the inititiated). 

Why do you write?

I think both Nick and I need a creative outlet for surreal ideas and concepts, or our weirdness will start to come out in other ways. And writing is much less rage-inducing than crafts.

I’ve got a set of questions I ask all authors: If you became very rich, what would a typical day look like for you?

My son would wake me up at 7, and then I’d pound a few cups of coffee. The nanny would come to play with my toddler while Nick and I sat around making up stories about tree gods and witches. It would look very much like a day now, except Nick would be home, and we’d have a nanny, and our light switches would work. 

What’s been your greatest challenge in life?

For me it was probably moving to London when I was 21 with only $500 in the bank. I stayed there for over 8 years, and for at least a few of those I was on minimum wage in a very expensive city.

And of course first few sleepless months after having our baby were a challenge for both of us. 

How much of you is in that werewolf character?–just kidding, that question was asked of Chris Fox, who wrote some book about werewolves.

Chris Fox actually based the werewolf character entirely on me. Little known fact.

What do you hate most about the publishing process?

There is a lot of multi-tasking involved, and sometimes you feel like you just want to focus on one thing at a time. You end up juggling social-media, learning new software, finding cover designers, getting feedback–all while trying to keep the focus on writing the next book. But the varied tasks definitely keep things interesting.

What do you love about indie publishing?

I love the flexibility. For example, a couple of the reviewers were confused by the first few pages, so we were able to clarify things and re-upload the book really quickly. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of publishing their book independently?

My main advice is to find a way to get as much feedback as possible for the first books, and listen to people’s input. There’s a lot of advice out there to just “write write write,” and there’s a lot of focus on word counts and cranking out books. I would counter to say–at least for a first book–take your time, and make sure you’re getting it right. Don’t try to edit it yourself, even if you’re an editor, and don’t design your own cover. Unless you’re a designer. If you’re totally broke there are still ways around these things.

What are you going to to do after you’ve won your second pulitzer?

Do they give pulitzers for books? Shows how much I know. I thought it was a newspaper thing. Well anyway I’d definitely insert it into every possible sentence for the rest of my life. “As a two-time pulitzer winner, I would like a fish sandwich with fries.”

Punchable face. Name one. Explanation optional.

Dapper Laughs, a British “cheeky chappie” “entertainer.” I would also like to punch the phrase “cheeky chappie” in the face.

Ask yourself a question and answer it.

Best book you’ve read in the past year? I have yet to read Arcane, so I’m going to go with Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell, which is a fantastic historical fiction book about Thomas Cromwell, one of Henry VIII’s advisors. I love the Tudor-era books.

C.N. Crawford is not one person but two. Christine (C) grew up in the historic town of Lexington, and has a lifelong interest in New England folklore – with a particular fondness for creepy old cemeteries. Nick (N) spent his childhood reading fantasy and science fiction further north during Vermont’s long winters. Together they work to incorporate real historical events and figures into contemporary urban fantasy novels.

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