Erin Kellison Interview

Erin Kellison author of the Shadow Series


Becky:      Have you ever thought of any of your stories being adapted to film or TV?


Erin:       Not seriously. It’d be fun, of course, and often blogs will ask, “What actor would play such-and-such character?” So I have thought about it a little, but I don’t think of film as I write.


B: Why or why not?

E: I’m a word person. J I don’t know how that medium is structured or how the story comes together. Would be cool to learn, though!


B: Who would you want to write the screenplay if not yourself and why?

E: No idea. I’d probably want to tackle it myself.


B: Most writers have a habit of putting a “self” character in each of their stories.  Which of you characters in each book do you most identify with and why?

E: Shadow Bound, Talia (I had recently finished grad school, so felt comfortable with an academic.)
Shadow Fall, Annabella (My teen years were spent in a ballet studio. I was a wili in Giselle, so I knew the ballet inside and out.)
Shadowman, Rose Ann Petty (I had too much fun writing her.)
Fire Kissed, Ferrol Grey (I invested a lot in making the antagonist my friend and understanding what he wanted.)
Soul Kissed, Mason (I’m a parent, so his concerns resonated with me more.)


B: When you get an idea for a story, how does it come to you?  Does it start as an idea you then build on of does the story come to you in complete detail?

E: I usually start with the fairy tale I’m going to build the story on, and then I work with the characters to develop it in a new and twisted way. When I write, I don’t know the details of each scene—I’d lose the magic of the moment—but I do know where I am going. I know where the characters need to be emotionally at the end, so I write toward that and discover the rest along the way.


B: What sort of books do you enjoy reading?

E: I read everything (lit major here), but I love genre fiction the most. Fantasy has always been a favorite, obviously. Love Bujold. Urban Fantasy, too. Gobbled up Night Broken by Patricia Briggs. And romance. I just finished a new adult by Beth Hyland, Fall into Forever.


B: Do you model yourself after anyone as a writer, or aspire to be like any writer you read?


E: Nope. I’m pretty much myself (I think every author has to be). I pay attention to how other writers do things, but everyone’s process is individual. Every book is its own monster. But I admire many authors for their awesome ideas and craft.


B: Were you aiming for a specific genre or did the crossover happen on its own?


E: That was intentional.


B: Aside from your aspirations as a writer, what do you hope to achieve in your life?


E: I want to be a great wife and mom. Aside from that, I am open to possibilities.

B: What are your highest expectations for your work?

E: I try to write the best book I can. I read craft books to keep learning. I take apart books I love so that I can figure out what makes them work so well. And then I try to do my best again. And again.

B: Would you say you’ve met or exceeded them yet?

E: Nope. Still learning.

B: What do you see in the future of sci-fi/ fantasy literature?  What’s the next evolution?

E: No idea. Which is a wonderful thing.

B: Where did you get the original idea for the Shadow Series?

E: I was looking for a kind of supernatural being that was different from the shifters and vampires that were (are) so popular at the time. I was reading a book on mythology, and my attention snagged on a banshee. I did a lot more reading, and Talia’s character developed from there. I wanted to discover how she came to be born (as well as what her nature was), and so wrote the prologue, which informed a lot of the world and the story that was to come. 

B: How long did it take to develop the idea into a full blown story?

E: The sense of the story happened in a flash (always does), but it took seven months on and off to complete.

B: You have a unique view of death and the process of loss which in the prologue is juxtaposed with the creation of life.  How did you bring that passion and fear to the foreground of the story?

E: The prologue was never supposed to be part of the story. It was an exercise to figure out Talia’s origins and see if I could put on the page what was in my head about a person straddling the boundary between life and death. I wanted to know what that felt like so I enacted it with her parents. I think that sense of exploration was what helped shade the tone.


B: Do you have personal experience with death and/ or loss?


E: Yes. It impacted the writing of Shadowman in particular.


B: What was your process in bringing Adam and Jacob forward as brothers?


E: I needed Adam’s conflict to be very personal. He had to be at a breaking point, and it was his brother who had driven him to it.


B: Is there a specific ideal you were trying to convey with this relationship?


E: Monsters. Jacob was a monster by choice, and Adam (though still human) was becoming a monster while trying to find a solution. He was at the end of his rope, embracing violence.

B: When a wraith feeds off of life energy, killing its victim, would you think that the more pure the soul the more energy the wraith gets by feeding on it?

E: Nope. I generally don’t think in terms of purity, and definitely not in a world as dark as the Shadow world. My good guys have the potential to be as dark as my bad guys. It’s the choice in the moment, not the degree of purity, that decides who they are.


B: What’s a primary motivation for becoming a wraith, abandoning love, life, and hope?


E: Immortality and power. Someone who feared dying would find becoming a wraith compelling.


B: How would you define “soul”?


E: The immortal part of a human being.


B: Shadow Bound seems to focus a lot on desire.  What was your mental process to bring this into the story so vividly without losing the essence of the plot?


E: Desire goes hand in hand with Death. There’s a natural tension there—it’s how Talia came to be born, and it’s what saves Adam at the end. In a way, desire drives the plot.


B: In Shadow Fall, the bridge into Shadow is more clearly defined in passion, creation, imagination.  What helped you in the creation of this major plot point?


E: I was able to expand the world in the second book through Annabella’s artistry. The story of Giselle, the ballet she was performing, is about the boundary between this world and the next, so it was an ideal means to show how the veil is thin, and that it’s permeated all the time through acts of creation. When I was a teenager, I was utterly taken with the story, and it has stuck with me since.


B: You very clearly write in the 3rd person limited point of view.  In Shadow Fall, you chose to focus and alternate between Custo and Annabella.  What led you to this choice?


E: They’re the lead characters. I needed both of their viewpoints to develop both the love story and how each internalized the supernatural events that force them to change.


B: How did you manage the transitions so seamlessly?


E: Transitions are hell. I stare at the computer screen until my brain bleeds.


B: How did you land in young adult/ middle adult language for Shadow Fall?  It’s somewhat more of a grown-up feel to the language of Shadow Bound.


E: Hmmm… Not sure. I didn’t know I used different language except that the character’s voices were unique, as was the wolf’s. Could be I changed. Could be the story needed something different.


B: What led you to return to the story from the prologue of Shadow Bound in the conception of Shadowman as a close to the series?


E: When I first sold Shadow Bound, the editor was interested in more of Shadowman’s story initiated in the prologue. I knew he would be the hero of the third book while I was writing Shadow Fall.


B: Do you have any new concepts in the works that steer away from the Shadow Series?


E: Yep. Aside from the SFR novellas I’ve written, the first in a new series, Darkness Falls, will be released inside the Dark and Deadly bundle on April 14. It’ll also be released shortly after on it’s own, along with the second in the series, Lay Me Down.

B: Do you anticipate a potential genre crossover for yourself or do you think you’ll most likely stick to the sci-fi/ fantasy romance?

E: Laughing. I’m also working on a fantasy I hope to release later this year. It has a romantic component, but it’s not the dominant arc. I’ve wanted to write a series with a continuing character, and I have found her at last. I’m very excited.



B: If you could pick one book that defines your personal style which would it be?

E: Soul Kissed, my latest full-length novel. It most represents my current approach to character, structure, and craft. I’m proud of how it came together. That said, the next book will probably redefine my personal style. And the one after that…