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Carolyn Crane | Turning a “Fault” Into a Super Power

December 22, 2010

Carolyn CraneDOUBLE CROSSWinners may get all the glory in life, but I find the losers to be far more interesting.  They see the world differently—often because they’re flat on their back…in the store parking lot…after being trampled over on the way to the sale. But they’re looking at the stars.

What I most enjoy is when the things the losers hate about themselves turn into powers. And look! One of my favorite examples of this is a Christmassy one: Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. All the other reindeers laughed at him and excluded him because of his red nose, but when the snowstorm hit, suddenly his bright nose was awesome.

I love the drama of that. And it’s something I really enjoyed playing with in my disillusionists trilogy. My characters have problems that run—and ruin—their lives. And I got to turn that upside down, into awesome superpowers.

The whole idea started, oddly, from reading a depressing book. This book! OMG, it made me feel really awful, and I thought, if I had an enemy, I would give them this book as a gift, so that they could feel as disillusioned as I did. (In fact, I actually recommended it to somebody I was mad at. LOL. But I am not a terrible person! I swear!)

Then I thought, what if there were people who disillusioned others professionally? Instead of a hit man who kills people, there would be this psychological hit squad that disillusions people—basically “crashes and reboots” the bad guys so that they can come back good.

And who better to be on a psychological hit squad than really messed-up, neurotic people?

So, with a little magical help from a certain handsome tortured mastermind (because, okay, I love handsome tortured masterminds), my hypochondriac heroine, a woman gripped by anxiety her whole life, can suddenly fill notorious criminals with fear—and get a few sweet hours of being free of fear herself. Or her grim friend Shelby infuses them with depressing thoughts. My rage-a-holic cook can make them lose control.

This all takes place in poor struggling Midcity. Crumbling Midcity is a Midwestern rust belt casualty that was really proud the year its school students finally got average test scores, but it’s been all downhill from there.

Bad enough that Midcity’s jobs are gone; now it’s terrorized by telepaths, telekinetics, dream invaders, memory revisionists and other criminals with strange powers.

Can my intrepid losers turn Midcity around? Will Justine, my hopeless hypochondriac, find love with her flawed hero? Is he more flawed than he’s letting on? One thing is for sure: nothing is quite as it seems in Midcity.


MIND GAMES and DOUBLE CROSS, the first two books in the Disillusionists trilogy, were released by Spectra/Bantam in 2010; an as-yet untitled book #3 will hit in 2011. Carolyn Crane lives  in Minneapolis with her husband and two cats. You can find excerpts and more at her website or visit her at her blog or tweet up on twitter.

MIND GAMES: synopsis:

MIND GAMES heroine Justine Jones isn’t your typical kick-ass type – she’s a hopeless hypochondriac whose life is run by fear. She’s lured into a restaurant, Mongolian Delites, by tortured mastermind Sterling Packard, who promises he can teach her to channel her fears. In exchange, she must join his team of disillusionists – vigilantes hired by crime victims to zing their anxieties into criminals, resulting in collapse and transformation.

Justine isn’t interested in Packard’s troupe until she gets a taste of the peace he can promise. Soon she enters the thrilling world of neurotic crime fighters who battle Midcity’s depraved and paranormal criminals. Eventually, though, she starts wondering why Packard hasn’t set foot outside the Mongolian Delites restaurant for eight years. And about the true nature of the disillusionists.

Comment to win:

In MIND GAMES and DOUBLE CROSS, a character’s biggest quirk or worst problem can be a power. What would your disillusionist power be? Comment to win a signed copy of Book #1 of the trilogy: MIND GAMES.

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