What is this book about?
Aimed at a YA audience who enjoys chick lit, The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain, is a comedy told through Facebook status updates, comments, private messages and notes. The novel also includes an interactive Facebook experience, where readers can interact with the book’s characters!
The tale begins with Madeline Cain embarking on her dream degree when she’s accepted into world famous photographer, Jason I’Anson’s, exclusive college in New York. Like many people of her generation who travel overseas, she turns to Facebook as a medium to pass on news and keep in touch with her family and friends. But her move from the sleepy Australian town of Adelaide to New York City doesn’t exactly turn out as she expected. From her first meeting with her chain-smoking, club-crazy house mate and his superhero Mexican Chameleon, Duncan (who can move from one side of the room to the other in a blink of eye), she knew she was in for an interesting time. Add an umbrella rigged by her brother to yell abuse at surrounding pedestrians when it rains, pizza deliveries to porn sets and being pulled in by the FBI for questioning after an explorative stint into spy photography, and things move from the interesting to the ridiculous.
Madeline tries to find her feet in the big city, but this may be harder for her to achieve than first thought, after she accidentally blackmails a famous model cheating on her boyfriend. How can you accidently blackmail someone you ask? Frankly, Madeline can get herself into any tight spot you can think of. The more important question is, how is she going to get out of the hole she found herself in?
How did you get the idea for this book?
Deciding life wasn’t interesting enough, I challenged myself to write a novel in a month. I started with grand self-delusions; it was going to be FUN! (*cross fingers*) Definitely not insane enough to try writing a fantasy novel in a month (my main genre), I chose to do a comedy based in Facebook in a similar style of my other favourite author, Meg Cabot. I created a Facebook event and threw my plot line to the whims of my insane friends, asking them to give me their best ideas, which included chameleons, umbrellas called Laani, triplets, a transvestite dwarf book club and a group of disturbed university students. November 2010 was the only month I could legitimately claim my hours on Facebook as “research.”
Is this your first book? If not, what else have you written?
Goodness no! I’ve been writing since I was twelve. I’ve never been a writer to stick to one genre (though I always write for YA). I have a fantasy novel, Priori -- The Power Within, that I worked on during a twelve-month mentorship with fantasy author Isobelle Carmody, which I am currently shopping around to publishers and agents; a Gap Year travel novel pulled together to encourage students to live a little before starting “the rest of their life”; another Facebook comedy e-book now available at Amazon and Kobo called Jake’s Page, which plays with formatting and combines a short story and play; and, finally, I’ve written an e-book on the e-book revolution and how authors can market their books and strengthen the reader-writer connection.
I was originally inspired to write when I was twelve, after I learnt one of my favourite authors, Isobelle Carmody, started writing her first book at 14 (which was later published). I worked on that book all through high school, and last year even got to do a twelve-month writing mentorship with the woman who started me writing in the first place, Isobelle.
There are always two things I recommend every writer do as a matter of course to start building a relationship with readers. One is as simple as creating a Facebook page in your genre and sharing things that would interest both yourself and readers. To get people on board, you can do things like Facebook advertising, electing to spend maybe $3 a day for a week just to get people liking the page and interacting. Make sure you name the page (under page settings) so every time you give someone a bio or post on a blog, people can follow you back to that page. For example, I ran a project during Adelaide Writers’ Week where we designed a physical choose-your-own-adventure. We called the page AdelaideAdventure and still get people liking the page six months later because the URL is scattered across the internet (http://www.facebook.com/AdelaideAdventure). It’s a network I can and will use in the future and one you should be building.
The second thing I (and just about every publisher you talk to these days) recommend is getting your own blog. It’s free and in some ways helps keep you accountable to your audience as you should post regularly to keep connected. I would recommend Blogger over Wordpress as Blogger is owned by Google and tends to get preference in the search rankings. Similarly, a blog is preferable to a website as Google favours sites that constantly add new content, rather than a static website where little is added after it is set up. On your blog I would post a video of yourself welcoming people to the blog as readers like to put a face to the words. I would also recommend you put a feature that allows you to capture names and emails for a newsletter. That way you can start building a list of people who like your work, and who you can contact when your next book is out. In this way people are signing up to hear from you, and as long as you aren’t sending them an email every day, you can stay connected without spamming. I recommend you offer a person an incentive for signing up like a free short story or pdf of instructional blog posts like I offer on my Original Fantasy blog (http://theoriginalfantasy.blogspot.com.au). To create this email capture form you need an autoresponder, which allows you to send everyone on your list the same email (and cuts down the work you need to do to connect!). I use a company called Get Response, which will give you a hundred people on your list for free before you have to start paying to use the service.
Oh, and please, please! Take part in your writing community. Attend conferences, go to festivals, learn and connect with others because you never know when a friend might suddenly be promoted to a position where they can help along your career.
Why did you decide to write a book in this genre?
There is one kickass YA author that really inspired me to write this book and that was Meg Cabot. I love Meg’s work, particularly her earlier stuff like 1-800-WHERE-R-U and the Mediator series. I would go through a book of hers in a couple of hours. They were light reading, but they were fun! I think I lost sight of the “fun” part of writing as I was writing more serious fantasy, and I needed to get out of that rut.
In particular, I really loved her series that was told entirely through email. They really pushed the boundaries of how you can tell a story, and I loved not knowing whether the characters were telling the truth in the emails or whether they were just telling a version of the truth that made them look good. That’s what I tried to do with Madeline Cain, play with the format by telling a story through Facebook and showing how the story changed when Madeline told it publicly to when she private messaged her friends. Also, Meg’s main characters were these strong, unconventional girls who taught me I don’t need to be so uptight; it’s okay to bend social conventions. They helped shape my views on life, and I wanted Madeline to help inspire young girls like Meg inspired me.
Do you plan a sequel or future books?
Currently plotting up the second Madeline Cain novel to finish off her New York year. Let’s see if I can bring myself to write this one in a month, too! I basically want to take Madeline all over the world, so there is a definite extended series starting to gather together in my head. I already have ideas for the third Madeline Cain novel, too. What do people think of the title: The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: International Wedding Crasher?
Do you have a website? How can we order this book?
Fittingly, the current Madeline Cain website is a Facebook page full of news, awesome videos and, soon, competitions. You can check out the whole interactive component from the story on that page, too, at http://www.facebook.com/GrandAdventuresOfMadelineCain. You can get the book from Amazon or Kobo or if you want to make sure that all the funds go directly to the author, you can email me directly at ebookrevolution (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Two lucky winners will each receive an eBook version (.epub/.mobi/PDF) of The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain: Photographer Extraordinaire, by Emily Craven. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.