Author, I Never: An Interview with Erin Callahan


Erin Callahan

author of The Art of Escaping, out June 2018

Author, I Never is a new segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I try to mix it up a little and ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never (kid friendly version) to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.

Question the first: Erin, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I got into the writer-game later than most people. I enjoyed writing as a kid but never thought, “Oh, maybe someday I’ll be a writer.” I didn’t have any serious interest in writing until I was in my late-twenties, perusing the YA section at Borders with a friend. He said, “We could do this.” And I said, “Hmm. Maybe.”

Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?

When I signed with my agent. Selling a book was cool too, but being offered representation was when I first started to feel comfortable calling myself a writer.

Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?

I have serious imposter syndrome and I’m not sure it will ever go away. Every time I start to think I’ve made it, I compare myself to other writers and go, “Eeesh, I’m not even close.”

I know the feeling well. Too well! Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?

Other than my agent, no. I have zero industry connections. Though I did stalk a lot of writers and agents on Twitter before I started querying.

Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?

Oh, good lord, of course. For many months while querying, I thought I would never find an agent. And then when my book was on sub, I was pretty sure it was never going to sell. That said, I never felt like giving up on writing, just on publishing.

Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?

It almost always happens to me in the shower or while driving.

Popular answers! I wonder what it is about water and wheels? Millers must have been great poets. Question the seventh: Can you give us a hint to help us find an "easter egg" or hidden item to look for in one of your books? Maybe an obscure clue if there's a mystery thread, or a reference you threw in to a favorite book or song?

Though I’m not sure this counts as an easter egg, I realized recently that all the books I’ve written or am currently working on share a common motif. They all feature a mysterious, semi-mythical heroine who is either dead or M.I.A. She kind of lingers in the background, serving as a source of inspiration or strength for the MCs. Maybe that’s something I craved more of as a teen so now I’m planting it in my story-worlds.

That's really cool! Shall we proceed to the...


I Never Round


The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.

I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.

I think I have quite a few made up words in my debut, but my copy editor didn’t call me out on any of them. They’re slangy, so maybe they skirt the rule?

I believe "slangy" is a made up word! I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.

Sleep is crucial. If I don’t get eight hours, I get hella cranky. I don’t think I’ve ever NOT broken this rule. :)

That's more than fair. I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.

Ha! Funny story about this: When I first started querying my debut, it totally started with the female MC’s morning routine. One very nice agent sent me a rejection but also said, “Hey. Don’t do this.”

People seem to have strong feelings about that one! I never worked on two manuscripts at once.

I’m ALWAYS working on more than one manuscript.

I never went several days or even weeks without writing. 

I took almost a full month off from writing after I finished a first draft of my second book.

I never wrote "for a long moment."

This is one rule I’m pretty sure I’ve never broken. Yay!

I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.

Aaaaaaand we’re back on the rule-breakin’ train. I am probably the biggest NaNo cheater ever. I always have a project half done when NaNo rolls around. That’s why Camp NaNo is a much better fit for me.

You did it! Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?


HE ART OF ESCAPING will be out in June of 2018 from Amberjack. You can find it on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34518059-the-art-of-escaping


Website: erinpcallahan.com

Twitter: @erinpcallahan

Instagram: @erinpcallahan

Bonus question: If The Art of Escaping had a theme song, what would it be? 

"My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now" by Annette Hanshaw.

DJ Spotify, it's up to you now.