CHEERS FROM CHARLESTON
A monthly (or nearly monthly, don’t hold me to it) newsletter. It’s my favorite way to share a little bit more about what books I’m loving (or not), the best hidden spots in Charleston, and the journey of being a writer after quitting my full-time job.
HELLO FRIENDS! I'M ELLERY
A novelist, avid reader, plant-based foodie, and believer in joy. I started writing when I was a child, a passion fed by a family of book-lovers, and finished my first manuscript when I was twelve. It was 300 pages of character-heavy, clunky, verbose work that remains (thankfully) in obscurity on a shelf at my parent’s house. But it sparked in me a passion for storytelling that has only grown over the years.
When I’m not writing (or avoiding writing by staring at a blank page), you can find me walking my dog Juju (short for Julia Child) down the back streets of Charleston or curled up with a glass of wine and a good book at the nearest cocktail bar with a patio or lounging at the beach with friends. Charleston is my favorite city in the US and the backdrop for several of my books.
I’m deeply passionate about the power of words to grow empathy and build bridges. Like a good meal, a good book connects us with each other and helps us see the world from someone else’s point of view.
Can two drowning people save each other? Ellison Island is a beach novel about a reclusive writer, an alcoholic surfer and the stormy island town that might save them both.
THE UNDERTAKERS DAUGHTER
What is it like to live around more dead people than live ones? Letha Wren Davis was born in a coffin in 1861. Her father insists it isn’t bad luck, but her life would indicate otherwise.
How far will you go for family? Drowning in debt and her sisters mental health crisis, Jeri uproots her life to save her. Instead she finds herself woven into the fabric of one of the nation's most powerful drug-smuggling families at the hands of a sociopath who could save her or cost her everything.
I GREW UP IN THE WILD.
On 25-acres in the backwaters of Virginia.
In many ways, that charmed childhood is why I love books so deeply. There wasn’t a lot to do in the country but play outside and crab and build forts in the woods and listen to my dad read Cheaper by the Dozen or my mom read Summer of the Monkeys in the evenings. I grew to love the sound of sentences, the rhythms of different writers, and the power of stories to draw me in and let me experience a different time or place or perspective.
So I read. And read. And read. Business books and history books and self-help books and spiritual books and novels. I devoured everything by Elizabeth George Spear and cried at the end of The Book Thief and ached at the perfection of Steinbeck and Fitzgerald and Hemingway.
I think storytelling is sacred. A lens through which we get to enter another person’s world and stretch our point of view for a moment.
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I think that fiction offers a unique way to experience the world through someone’s else’s eyes. It gives us the ability to see inside a character’s head, to study their motives and what the character thinks their motives are.
As psychologists Mar and Keith Oatley put it, fiction serves the function of “making the world a better place by improving interpersonal understanding.” Or as the famous novelist George Eliot says, one of fiction's main jobs is “to enlarge men’s sympathies.”
I love how the stories of people’s struggles bolster our courage, broaden our understanding, and deepen our ability to empathize.
Couldn’t our world use a little bit more courage and compassion?