Erin Kellison On The Perks (And Pitfalls) Of Being A New Author

We spotlighted author Erin Kellison in the beginning of summer, when she was a debut author with her first novel Shadow Bound. At that time, she shared her journey to publication (read it here). Barely three months later, her second novel, Shadow Fall, is on shelves and she's hard at work on her newest tale. So we caught up with Kellison to find out what life as a new author is really like.

In the past two months, my first two books, Shadow Bound and Shadow Fall, were released. Promotion and other deadlines require me to tick items off my to-do list every morning, and I’m grateful, because internally, I’m in a state of stunned shock. No really. Holding Shadow Bound in my hand was surreal. Seeing it on the shelves at Wal-Mart had me breathless. I’m pretty sure I sat down on the floor in the book aisle, while my husband grinned from ear to ear. We bought a book. He bragged to the checkout lady, who didn’t seem to care. I was distracted by the yaw and pitch of the store, though we live in flat desert Arizona.

I’m a pretty quiet person by nature, but with a very restless imagination. I have no trouble (especially late at night) overriding practicality with the stories in my head. Now, everyday life is mixed with a little surreal fantasy—I’m a published author. That I had never let myself imagine.

The road to becoming published has been filled with long stretches of quiet, broken by occasional moments of heart-pounding thrills. My first cover. My page proofs. Cover flats (foil!). Arcs. Every step was a punch-drunk wow.

And during all this, my family was reeling from tragedy—the kind of sudden, deep pain that stops you cold, sucks the oxygen out of the world, and baffles with hurts that change everything. The heartache in the midst of all the commotion was immediate and personal. I wrote my heart into my third book, Shadowman, when writing was a struggle. But it was also a refuge, so while fun things were buzzing in the air around me, perspective was not hard to keep.

When the reviews started coming out, I braced myself big time. Fortunately, they’ve mostly been positive, but even so, my husband pre-reads them now. He, too, is my sales tracker, though it is still very early to tell for my summer releases. He’s an amazing support. He bought me my first laptop when we were broke with a baby on the way. The two books I wrote on it are now in the mall bookstore. Unbelievable. 

Comments from fans astound me. I was utterly taken aback when a very kind bookseller came up to me following a conference panel and had me sign an ARC of Shadow Bound, all the while foretelling good things in my publishing future. I had to call my mom right after. I’ll never, ever forget that bookseller.  Later someone told me that they’d checked the book out from the library. Another wow. Somewhere I am in a library, and this wonderful person checked me out; see the world tilt all over again.

Very little about the act of writing has changed, however. I still sit in my big green chair (easily the most comfortable in the house). I have a new laptop on a new lap desk (because my critique partner borrowed my first lap desk and won’t return it). But the actual writing is very much the same, which I find very comforting. Because at the end of the day, this publishing adventure began in that quiet space in my head, a story unfolding. Every now and then I feel a pang, wondering if my editor will like where my story is going.  But I put that aside, and do my job. And what a lucky, fantastic job it is. My third book, Shadowman, will come out early next fall. Today I get to start book four, as yet untitled. I’ve got that tingly feeling in my fingers, itching to write. 

-Erin Kellison

You can pick up your own copy of Shadow Bound and Shadow Fall in stores now!