A while back, I downloaded a free e-book for my Nook. Ever frugal, I enjoy checking out what new books are out there. At the time, though, I had no idea what to expect from a free download written by an author whose works I did not yet know. I would soon find out. From the lush descriptive opening of the book, I was transported into a fantastic world, and I was hooked!
The Shadow Series, by Erin Kellison, paints a picture of an alternate, secret world where Banshees, Wraiths and assorted other creatures roam the earth. At the center of this world is Shadowman, an entity who helps the dead pass through the realm of twilight on their way into Heaven.
I belong to a local book group. Being my turn to make a recommendation for our summertime read, I had to recommend the book that had made such an impact on me with its vibrant mental imagery. Shadow Bound, book one in the Shadow Series, was chosen.
I decided it would be fun to try and have some sort of interaction between Erin Kellison and our book group, so after contacting her through Twitter and her website, she agreed to do a Q and A with us via email. What follows is part one of our interview. She was very gracious, and sent us some goodies to boot. I hope you enjoy reading a little bit about author Erin Kellison.
Shadow Bound Interview Questions with Erin Kellison, Author
1. As I was reading about Shadowman, the character, in the opening of the story, I found that the idea of him shifted from being kind of scary and ominous to a character that I was actually getting sensitive about. Presuming that was supposed to happen, how did you come up with the idea for a love story about the “Angel of Death”?
Goes way back. When I was initially conceiving Shadow Bound, I wanted to find a mythological being that I hadn’t seen a lot of in paranormal romance. I started with a story about a beautiful banshee, who I envisioned to have one foot in life and one in death. Then I wondered how she came to be. I actually wrote the prologue to Shadow Bound as an exercise to discover Talia’s beginnings. The prologue stuck, and when I sold the book, my editor asked about Shadowman right away. He’s not a typical kind of hero. He doesn’t necessarily fight for good. He just wants his love back, and he’ll do anything (including let the world burn) to find her. So it’s a love story, but it’s a dark one.
2. On your Segue website, you have what looks like artist renderings of the characters in your books. Are the pictures based on real people in your life? If so, who?
No, they are not people in my life. A graphic artist and I worked to find good matches, and she doctored them to have the fantasy feel of my Shadow series.
However, there are a lot of real life touchstones in the books. In Shadow Bound Talia just finished getting her PhD, and I had recently finished my masters when I started writing it. And Custo has a talent (second half of Shadow Fall) that my husband has. And once upon a time, I was very serious about classical ballet, and was even a wili in Giselle, the story featured in Shadow Fall. And there is a lot of personal feeling that went in to the relationship between Zoe and Abigail, especially in Shadowman. So yes, there is a bit of real life mixed in to the fiction.
3. I would guess you have a good deal of input into the websites that align with your novels. Are the portrayals of the characters as you envisioned them? Do you have any input in the book covers?
Yes, I have a great deal of input into my websites! My husband is my web designer (poor guy). Authors these days usually have to create or hire someone to design their websites. Publishers don’t often do them. I like the characters selected for my trading cards (I helped select those). But I have very little input into the covers of the books. The publisher will ask broad questions, but the ultimate design is up to them.
4. I really like how art plays an important part in the story. Especially at the beginning, where we are introduced to the realm of Twilight through the painting of a young artist. Further into the story, you describe how Shadowman is being depicted as “trapped” in art and music. Can you talk about the role of art in your creative process?
Great question. “Shadow” in my series is a special kind of magic—it’s inspiration and creativity as much as it’s nightmare. I felt that artists in my Shadow series in particular would respond to that magic more than anyone else. Art forms are a major part of every book in my series. Ballet figures hugely in Shadow Fall, photography in Shadowman, and I just wrote a scene for book four that is set in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Gardens in DC. I guess I am trying to say that there is magic and power in art, and I think that using art in my stories adds a layer that I hope readers can relate to, while broadening the scope of culture in the world-building of my books.
5. In the novel you portray art as having a close link or window into the faerie realm. What do you feel is the role of or power of art in our world? While you refer to painting in your book, feel free to include other forms of art in your response.
Yes, I absolutely feel art is power. And I think I jumped the gun and discussed this above. J
6. Is there any specific music that you would consider to be inspirational to you while you were writing Shadow Bound?
Actually, I write in total silence. There’s a playground across the street from my house, and the teeter-totter squeaks with every push. It drives me insane!
7. If there were a music playlist for the book Shadow Bound, what would be on it?
Yikes! I’ve never created a playlist for the book or series. It would have to include something from Siouxsie and the Banshees though J.
8. What are you currently reading / is on your to-read list? Do you have a favorite book or genre?
I just finished the first book in George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series. Loved it. I am a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold—I’ve got her next Vorkosigan book all lined up. I love to read everything, but lately I’ve leaned toward fantasy and urban fantasy. When I am writing my darkest stuff, I’ll go for a historical romance—completely out of the Erin Kellison box.
9. Are the ideas of “Twilight” and “Shadowman” legends that have been researched by others, or are those two entities that you came up with?
Twilight figures frequently in fairytales, though not by that name. It is the dark wood, the Other realm, the place you find when you stray from the beaten path. I was formally introduced to it when I was taking a class on Arthurian legend, and I’ve recognized it over and over again in other stories. My conception of it is my own, but the foundation has been there forever. As for Shadowman, he’s the Grim Reaper, and yes, I imagine he has been researched deeply and portrayed many times in fiction. Shadowman is my take on him. I wanted to preserve the horror of his role, but also wanted to go beyond that, which meant he had to have a humanity as well. And he is so powerful that he had to be at the mercy of humanity in some way—his appearance and manner are in fact created by the conception of the person who sees him. Some see a monster, some see a friend; Kathleen saw a lover.
10. What gave you the idea for this series of books?
I was looking through a book on mythology for a kind of being that I hadn’t encountered often in genre-fiction. When I hit upon “banshee,” my imagination took off. For me, a banshee has all of the pathos of vampires, which have been so popular, but gave me generous room to develop my own world. With every book, that world has expanded in ways I couldn’t anticipate at the beginning. I am very excited to see where it goes.