Five by Five – CAROLYN CRANE and the Five Books that Inspire Her

May 5, 2012 Five by Five, Giveaways, Interviews 36

Five Authors and the Five Books that Inspire Them –

Five by Five, May 7th – 11th:


 Minneapolis-based writer Carolyn Crane is a freelance advertising writer by day, and a kick-ass urban fantasy writer by night.  She is the creator of the Disillusionist Trilogy, quite possibly the most original UF series I’ve read.  With great world-building, a hypochondriac for a main character (there is a part of me that totally identifies with that), and enough tension to make you sweat, Crane has created a unique series that makes her one of my favorite authors writing in the genre today.

Let me tell you five things I love about Crane and the Disillusionist Trilogy:

1.  Justine

 A neurotic, hypochondriac as the heroine?  Who learns she can “weaponize” her neurosis?  Um, yes. This speaks to me.  I’ve been known to have a hypochondriac moment,  or moments, or I am a hypochondriac (according to my husband).  So, yes.  Love this unique heroine.  And it doesn’t stop there.  The secondary characters are just as interesting, just as original.

2.  Original World-Building

If the unique heroine didn’t get you how about a psychological hit squad tasked with ridding a city of its most devious criminals?  Weaponizing what some people would see as weaknesses – hypochondria, recklessness, despair – in order to psychologically cripple these criminals and reprogram them to do good?  What about the leader of this crime fighting team being trapped in a Mongolian restaurant?  Forever?  This is a world that is familiar, but slightly different.  I don’t even know how to describe this.  And that’s a good thing.

3.  Romantic Tension

I read so many books with thin romantic triangles but Crane manages to create one with real plausibility and life.  In most books, it’s obvious who the heroine will end up with but in this series, I was a little unsure.  In fact, I wasn’t sure who I wanted Justine to be with.  I love that feeling of unpredictability.

4.  Crane Gives Good Cliffhanger

As a jaded reader, any book that has me jumping out of bed after reading the last page and yelling, “Holy shit!”…well, that’s a good book.  Read book two and you’ll understand.

5.  Carolyn Loves Her Fans

Follow her on Twitter and you will see what I mean.  She appreciates you.


 Without further ado…here is Carolyn Crane!


Book Influences: 5 books that have inspired me

Thanks so very much for having me here, She-Wolf!! I think this is a fabulous topic, and I can’t wait to see what the other authors say.

It was interesting to pick the books for this. You asked for 5 books that have influenced us, or that we recommend. I’m doing what books influenced me, though I’d recommend all of these. I really feel like, as a writer, every book has a gift for me of some sort.



Anita Blake Series by Laurell K. Hamilton

This series is where I first fell in love with Urban Fantasy. I remember first reading these books, and just feeling so breathless about it all. (And I think that’s where my fondness for the LUV triangle came from!) Also, one thing that really influenced me (well, hopefully  influenced me, but at least gave me something to aspire to) is LKH’s attention to detail. LKH just manhandles the reader – I mean that in the best way. She is a totally skillful writer who retains serious visual control over the reader experience – she shows you the room you’re in, shows you the people, makes sure you know the hair, the body, the clothes. People used to joke about Anita’s ugly wardrobe and her stupid white Nikes, or Jean Claude’s thigh high boots and chest baring shirts, okay, those are dorky things to wear, but that is an example of her control. How imprinted on people’s minds those details are. Yet, somehow, she doesn’t go on and on. She gives the perfect key details and you totally see the person or the place.  I petered out on this series as others have, but I think she’s amazing. 



Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole

I feel like Kresley Cole has tons of fun raising the stakes. That is something that just so blows me away about her writing. Nothing is ever halfway. Everything is HUGE! Crazy huge!

In book #1 of this series, A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER, Lachlain didn’t just hate vampires, they burnt him to death repeatedly for 150 years. In NO REST FOR THE WICKED, Kaderin’s not just cold-hearted, she hasn’t felt emotions for centuries, ever since her sisters were killed by a vampire she spared on the battlefield. It is her fault! DEMON is one of my faves in the series, where the fabulous heroine, Carrow, has to betray the man she’s falling in love with, Malkom, who has lived on this hell-plane forever. I don’t want to give stuff away, but that is something that I so love about her work, the massive stakes.



Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair

This is a highly enjoyable space adventure/romance that I really learned a lot from early on. Mostly the thing I took from this book is a new understanding of the power of a hero who absolutely PINES away for the heroine. I love this hero, Admiral Branden Kel-Paten. He’s this part-android, seemingly straight-laced commander, and the heroine, Sass, is his nemesis, and they have to serve together on a ship, and there’s all this friction. What she doesn’t understand is that through all the years of Kel-Paten chasing her back when she was a mercenary, he was in love with her. It is so, so highly enjoyable to see this revealed, and it showed me that there is a kind of magic in a hero who pines. 



The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

This is nonfiction, actually a “how to reduce your chances of getting raped or murdered” sort of book, but wow, it’s been golden to me as a writer on the level of psychology. This baby added major dimension to my understanding of instinct, intuition and the way predators and victims operate. Every book I’ve written since reading this owes something to it. I recommend it to writers, and to all women, actually, for being safe in a sometimes dangerous world and trusting your intuition.



Broken by Megan Hart

This book by Megan Hart, as well as others in this series (Dirty, Stranger) really showed me what a good sex scene is. Hart uses such plain language, and she is so straightforward with her details, I sometimes feel like she sort of broke some important creative boundaries in this way. She has a special genius for hooking into female fantasies—of course, many writers have this, but what Hart brings to the table is that she articulates sex in a precise and honest way. Her work is honest in more than sex scenes. It’s honest in how the characters speak and behave, and honest in the details of life.


What do my characters read?


In the series, I had Justine reading this Victorian mystery series, and the book she lost is called Mrs. Archer and the Golden Plume. I totally made that title up, but it’s based on the Deanna Raybourn series, Lady Julia Grey, which I envision her loving. (I love that series, too) I also envision her reading Julie James, another author fave of mine. 

Packard reads a lots of travel books and magazines, especially while trapped in the restaurant for eternity. He also loves mystery books. I imagine him loving authors like Elmore Leonard and Louis L’amore.

Otto reads very ponderous stuff. He is a weighty thinker, and would be into authors like Oswald Spengler, Bruno Bettelheim, Balzac, James Baldwin. Mostly nonfiction. I don’t imagine Otto reading anything published in the last few decades.


What’s up next for Carolyn?


Short story in “Mammoth Book of Ghost Romance” anthology (June 2012 UK/August 2012 US)

My story, “Old Salt,” is about a snarky woman tour guide at a seaside tourist trap in North Carolina (‘the haunted pier’) who wishes that a certain strapping young sea captain who died in 1870 had a less pathetic haunting technique. 

So, she totally insults this ghost all the time when the tourists aren’t around, but then something happens to bring her and Old Salt the ghost into contact, and he is mad about being insulted by her all those years, and also totally hot and hunky. It’s my first humorous romance story.


Mr. Real (late 2012)

Book #1 of my new Spy Paranormal Romance series

I’m really excited to be self publishing this series, which is really the series of my heart right now. It’s way quirkier and way hotter than The Disillusionists. And, it’s more a traditional PNR in that there is one hero and one heroine per book, but the world is consistent. I just typed and erased about five different descriptions of it. I seem to specialize in series that are hard to describe. I’ll have one up on my site at some point!



If you have not read Carolyn’s fabulous Disillusionist Trilogy, save yourself and read them.  You can find them here.

Stop by and visit Carolyn at her favorite spots:





Now, enter to win one signed copy of any book in Carolyn’s Disillusionist Trilogy AND one book of your choice from her top five most influential books:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

36 Responses to “Five by Five – CAROLYN CRANE and the Five Books that Inspire Her”

  1. Samantha R.

    Great post! I really enjoyed reading about the books that inspired you, Carolyn. And if given the opportunity, I’d call dibs on Broken. I’d never heard of it before, but after that description, it looks like I’m gonna have to find it pronto!

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for stopping by Samantha! And I think Broken is a great choice. It’s mine, too!

  2. Annie

    This whole “5” idea is great! I am soooo lovin’ it! Hearing about books that have inspired authors always interests me. Just more books to add to the TBR pile. =)

    • Annie

      JEEZ!! I never read the rafflecopter topic request. I get all Comment happy!! Games of Command. I love and have read both Cole an Hamilton and have a special love for sci-fi!

      • shewolfreads

        I just got a Linnea Sinclair book the other day. I need to check Carolyn’s pick, too!

  3. Regina

    Great post Carolyn! I love reading about your inspirations and learning points as a writer and I am beyond excited to read your new series. 😀

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for stopping by Regina! Which book on Carolyn’s list are you most interested in?

  4. Amy R

    Of the top 5 books listed, I’d go for Broken by Megan Hart. Based on the description, what’s a girl not to like about it? The perfect escape from reality. Also, loved the blurb about the upcoming book Mr. Real. I’m adding that to my TBR!

    • shewolfreads

      I think I would go for Broken, too! And I am beyond excited for Carolyn’s new series!

  5. Jaime W

    Really great post! I love your thoughts on all those books. You were spot on with Games of Command and the Kresley Cole series. I would probably have to go with Broken (because I really loved Dirty) or The Gift of Fear because you made it sound so interesting.
    Can’t wait for Mr. Real

    • shewolfreads

      Broken seems to be the most popular choice! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Lea Krnjeta

    One from the Anita Blake series cause Im a huge fan.

  7. Poppyfields77

    It is a tough call but I would have to pick Broken because I had not heard of it before and it sounds amazing. I have already added it to my to-read shelf on goodreads. I have read all of the Anita Blake series already because Jean Claude is still my favorite vampire of all time. Her series was my introduction to Urban Fantasy just like Ms. Crane.

    • shewolfreads

      Yes, I’ve only read Guilty Pleasures in the Anita Blake series and I enjoyed it. I also think Broken would be my choice!

  8. Smash Attack

    LOVE Carolyn! The Disillusionist series is great fun! I’m bummed I still haven’t read Head Rush, as I’m waiting for the paperback release.

    As far as her top 5 inspirations, I’ve read The Gift of Fear, and will FOREVER remember the opening “scene” that he dissects throughout the book. It is a powerful read and I recommend it too. I can definitely see how this book has offered so much in terms of understanding when writing characters, especially in the Disillusionist series!

    Thanks for the rad giveaway! ♥

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for the great comment and for the visit! I love the trilogy. I can’t wait to see what Carolyn does next!

  9. Felicia the Geeky Blogger

    I am super excited about her new series! Carolyn–you need to get that done pronto 🙂 🙂 🙂

    I haven’t read any of her 5 (though I do own the KC series–that is close right?) — I will totally have to check them out!

  10. Mollie W

    I would love to win Head Rush! I have read the first two books, & I am dying to read the conclusion for Justine!!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for stopping by Mollie! And you are right, Carolyn’s trilogy is great!

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for commenting, Delilah! Broken looks like it is the most popular choice. I think I may need to read the Gift of Fear, too.

  11. Carolyn Crane

    Thanks so much for stopping by everyone! It’s so fun to read everybody’s comments, and if you pick any of these books up, I do so hope you enjoy them!!

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for contributing, Carolyn! Your post was great!

  12. rissatoo

    Games of Command sounds like one I’d really like. I do love scifi, though lately its taken a back burner to UF & PNR

  13. Stella (Ex Libris)

    I LOOOVE Carolyn’s Disillusionist series, and though the action is pretty great it’s really the psychological entanglements are what nail me to my seat when I read her books 😀

    I have heard fantastic things about Megan Hart’s books and writing so I would like to discover Broken.

    • shewolfreads

      Thanks for the comment, Stella! It looks like Broken is the favorite pick. I think I may need to read that one, too!

  14. Molly Frenzel

    Of Carolyn’s top 5 I would choose Guilty Pleasures. I remember reading that book and everything was fresh and new. The series hadn’t become one long orgy and I was so in love with Jean Claude.

    • shewolfreads

      I only read Guilty Pleasures which I enjoyed. I had heard so much about the series really changing over time that after the first one, I wasn’t sure I should continue. Have you read others in the Anita Blake series?

  15. JessS

    Broken by Megan Hart because I’ve heard it’s good and I’ve been wanting to read some more erotica/erotic romances.

    • shewolfreads

      Yes! This is a popular one! Thanks for stopping by Jess!