Monday, October 04, 2010

Guest - Erin Kellison

Good morning, everyone! Please join me in welcoming author Erin Kellison. Erin is the author of the Shadow Series, which includes Shadow Bound and Shadow Fall. Stories have always been a central part of Erin Kellison's life. She attempted her first book in sixth grade, a dark fantasy adventure, and still has those early hand-written chapters. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English Language and Literature, and went on for a masters in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on oral storytelling. When she had children, nothing scared her anymore, so her focus shifted to writing fiction. She lives in Arizona with her two beautiful daughters and husband, and she will have a dog (breed undetermined) when her youngest turns five.


Exploring a world through writing (or pre-writing)

First of all, thank you so much to Lynda for hosting me here today. I would love to give a copy of Shadow Bound and Shadow Fall to a lucky commenter, so make sure to say hi!

Right now I am working on my fourth book in my Shadow series. I’ve had the concept in my head for a while. I had the broad strokes of plot. I brainstormed to develop characters, and when I started saying things like, “She wouldn’t do something like that…” (as if the character were a real person), I knew that I was ready to write.

Pre-write, that is. Because no matter how much work I put into planning, the real story happens on the page, not in my head. I am reminded of this every single time I sit down to write a new story.

I wrote the first push of action. Didn’t work. Fleshed it out. Still not so much. Scrapped that beginning. Tried another. And another. And one more. No luck. Not that I didn’t get encouraging and positive comments from my critique partners, I did, but I could not sense the momentum I needed to open the book.

The problem wasn’t the writing itself. Nor was it the idea, story, or characters (I hope). I needed to find the right moment to begin the story and the voice that could carry it. During this process, I discovered so much about the world and the history of the characters that when I finally did write the scene that starts the book, it came with layers.

This process recalls an online lesson I found on Hatrack (Orson Scott Card’s writers site) a couple years ago. Written in 1998, the lesson was called Beginnings. You can find it here: He provided an amazing, wonderful insight into how to begin by providing all his unused versions of Ender’s Shadow and the reasons that he discarded each and started again. Card in particular revealed how elements of the story are discovered through that process. I cannot tell you how grateful I was to have this example, and I plan to post the same kind of discussion in the future. I have found two other occasions where authors have put their raw beginnings online. Each time has been enormously helpful.

The most telling component for me in the first scene of my book is character, which is particularly critical in romance. How strange it is that character most often informs the world building. For example, Custo, the hero of Shadow Fall, is able to communicate telepathically with others of his kind (angels) and hear the thoughts of mortal humankind. I had no idea that he had that ability until I wrote him, though ironically he hates it. He does not pause at mentally telling the angelic host to piss off and get the hell out of his head. Suddenly the implications of his opinions spun out… if angels can read each other’s minds, they would not have much privacy. They would be extremely effective fighters. They’d have a problem caving to their vices. Not Custo though .

From there the story can unfold itself. Problems of course creep up. The plot must move forward toward specific goals, but whether the character is driving it, or I am, is a mystery. And one I don’t want to solve. Once I’ve got that kind of mojo going, then I really know I’ve begun my story.


Shadow Fall

Custo Santovari accepted pain, blood, even death, to save his best friend. But a man with all his sins just isn't cut out to be an angel.

One moment he's fleeing Heaven; the next, he's waking up stark naked in Manhattan. In the middle of a war. Called there by a woman who's desperately afraid of the dark.

It gathers around Annabella as she performs, filled with fantastic images of another world, bringing both a golden hero and a nightmare lover.

He pursues her relentlessly, twisting her desires even as she gives herself to the man she loves. Because each of us has a wild side, and Annabella is about to unleash the beast.

You can contact Erin though her website,, where you can also sign up to receive her newsletter.


mjmuse said...

Hi! Just wanted to say thanks for your post. Very interesting. And my son is a HUGE Ender's Game fan. He is interested in writing too-so I'll be sharing that site. Have a great day and happy blogging. :)

Pauline B Jones said...

My son and I both love ENDER'S GAME. Fascinating look at the process. Thanks for sharing!

nat said...

Great interview, thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
natcleary at gmail dot com

KC said...

I love hearing how authors get from the idea in their head to the one that is on paper. Some rewrite until the scene is perfect and others (like me) just push through and have to do some MAJOR editing on the tail end. Thanks so much for sharing and will look forward to your additional posts.

JackieW said...

Enjoyed reading our blog today. So glad you will have a dog when your little one is 5...they are a great addition to any family...can you tell I'm a dog-person? And I have a special liking of Wolves too. Would enjoy reading your book.

Monti said...

Always interested in learning how other writers write and what inspires them! You book cover is beautiful. The flowing gown makes me think fantasy...


Linda Andrews said...

Thanks for sharing your beginnings story and the link. I'll definitely check it out. You're books sound great. What made you decide to write about angels?

SiNn said...

your a new to me author so its always nice to read how you start books and such ur links ill chekc them out later sounds deff awesome and i ahve to say i loveee that cover its so beautiful and majestic

Dot S. said...

I just read Shadow Fall and was especially impressed at the originality. It is a very good read with lots of suspense and action as well as romance.

susan said...

I am always amazed how authors can come up with ideas for their books and loved being able to share this article today. Thanks so much for sharing it. susan L.

Mary Anne Landers said...

Thank you, Erin, for your insights into your writing process. Especially helpful is your description of how you finally got started on the first draft of a novel the right way: by exploring the story, its setting, and its characters so deeply that the manuscript came readily. That should help other writers, like me.

Good luck with your upcoming publications and projects!

Jen & Alicia said...

Thanks for sharing your hardwork and talent with us. I can't wait to read your new shadow book.