posted on December 10, 2020 by Jerri Chisholm

ESCAPING ELEVEN: THE BIRTH STORY OF A BOOK

Giveaway – $10 Amazon gift card

It’s difficult to believe that on December 8, 2020, ESCAPING ELEVEN was released into the world. They say that your book is your baby, but like all good birth stories, the really interesting tidbits come in the backstory.

When did you decide to have a baby? Why did you want one? What was the pregnancy like?

As for the when and why I wanted a book-baby, well…ever since I was little I’ve been drawn to books. The happiest moments of my childhood were spent curled up in a ball with a book in hand. Back then, pretty much all the major authors of young fiction—Roald Dahl, J. K. Rowling, Philip Pullman (and many more!)—created books that I found so impactful, so inspiring. They offered a total escape from reality, and it didn’t take long before I started dreaming about creating that escape for others.

But, of course, life happened. Dreams were pushed aside, and somewhere along the way I decided it would be prudent to become a lawyer, so that’s what I did. Law school, bar exam, articles. My schooling—and my life—had taken a purely professional turn. Still, as I sat at a desk as a freshly-minted lawyer, perusing insurance form after insurance form, the dream just wouldn’t go away. Eventually I started bringing my laptop to work with me, and instead of continuing to peruse those insurance forms over my lunch, I’d head out to a coffee shop where I’d prop open my laptop and write.

The main problem with this covert operation was that I didn’t know how to write, at least not fiction. Still, I decided the best way to learn was to try, so I pushed through. After two years working on a single manuscript, I pressed the ‘print’ button with a flourish, turned off my laptop, and started to read what I hoped would be a breathtaking masterpiece.

It totally sucked. Even well-meaning family members couldn’t help but to crack jokes about it. Just part of the learning process, I assured myself. After that I decided to study the craft by reading what other authors had said on the subject, a helpful and worthwhile exercise. And I kept writing. Finally…finally—after years of failed attempts and thorough research—I was ready to make a baby—er, book.

The idea for ESCAPING ELEVEN struck me when I was staying with family who lived on the edge of a picturesque lake. It was summertime: bright, hot, humid. It made the guest room in the basement feel just the opposite: dark, cool, damp. I started to wonder what it would feel like even farther underground, in a place with no windows, no access to that picturesque lake…and at that moment, the idea for ESCAPING ELEVAN was conceived.

For humans, the moment between conception and birth is about nine months. For ESCAPING ELEVEN, it was years. Eve, the main character, was the easiest to write. She was fully formed the moment she walked into my mind. Since I had a very clear idea of what her drive was, and the past trauma she endured, I found she flowed easily onto the page. She even had a distinctive “voice” from the get-go—something that can be tricky to capture as a writer. On the other hand, I really struggled with finding just the right amount of violence. Compound Eleven, where the story is set, is a violent place, and so it wasn’t something I could gloss over. Yet I didn’t want to linger too long on those uncomfortable moments, or, worse, glorify it. That took a lot of time and tinkering, to find the right balance.

And speaking of tinkering, the entire project went through so many rounds of rewrites and edits with myself, with my agent, and with my editor that there were moments when I didn’t have a clue what ESCAPING ELEVEN would look like when it was finally finished.

It was worth the wait! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, and I’m so grateful to all the people along the way who helped out.

It’s strange and a little surreal to think that after all that…ESCAPING ELEVEN has been released. It has shape, it has substance…it has life! I feel so honored that people might actually pick up a copy, that they might take hard-earned time out of their day to dive in. And, if I’ve done my job correctly, if it offers an escape from the world for even a single reader, it will make all that work both pre- and post-conception well worth it!

Jerri Chisholm

Jerri Chisholm

Jerri Chisholm is a YA author, a distance runner, and a chocolate addict. Her childhood was spent largely in solitude with only her imagination and a pet parrot for company. Following that she completed a master's degree in public policy and then became a lawyer, but ultimately decided to leave the profession to focus exclusively on the more imaginative and avian-friendly pursuit of writing. She lives with her husband and three children, but, alas, no parrot.

https://www.jerrichisholm.com/

9 thoughts on “ESCAPING ELEVEN: THE BIRTH STORY OF A BOOK”

  1. bn100 says:

    interesting info

  2. Jamilynn Hanson says:

    It’s been a long time since I took my literature/writing class in college. This could help refresh

  3. Rosemary Simm says:

    Don’t stop dreaming of writing. Put it on paper and people will read it.

  4. Rachel Flesher / Raonaid Luckwell says:

    So neat to hear about an author’s individual process into the world of writing.
    Yes, I am well aware how hard it is to write a story from start to finish. Sometimes self doubt gets in the way too!

  5. Any birth is traumatic but not sure if it is more so for the birther or the birthee. Not sure if they’re actual words??? The outcome is always a wondrous miracle. Soon after all of the stress, hair pulling, snarky attitude toward others and even the pain just mellows out. So, congrats on the birth of your baby which I look forward to reading. Should I save it for a nice rainy or snowy night? Decisions, decisions.

  6. GB says:

    Hearty congratulations on your recent book birthday! I enjoyed your post and loved getting to know the story behind a story. Am glad that you persevered from dream to reaching your goal. And, frankly, escapist reading is greatly needed for the world, especially this year!

  7. Carol Cox says:

    Very candid.

  8. Tina says:

    Love the backstory.

  9. Jan Lee says:

    This book sounds just like Stephen King’s book “The Institute.” Kids are kept on different floors of the institute, depending on what shows up from initial testing on their brain. There are floors you reach by an elevator depending on the testing being done to them.. There is a basement level and a residential level along with a “Back Level” and a “Front Level.” (Not to mention East and West “ends.”) There are physical fights and “mental” fights. The main character is a mental fighter and decides he wants out of the institute. He has to become a physical fighter and use both…mental and physical fighting.

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