Author S. Kelley Harrell on writing, life, and shamanism

A bit back I had the pleasure of being interviewed by David Garlow of the Examiner.com. Here’s a reprise if you missed it:

With all of the writing groups that writers take part in you are bound to see subjects of every type come across your screen. It is how we all connect, interact, and help be it through promoting, beta reading, and feedback on ideas or paragraphs, even a simple sentence. Within these I could not help but notice Kelley Harrell for her subject, personality, and approachability. Believe me, not all writers are that approachable; I compare it to a gamers group or even a music scene with competition, some prima donna egos, you know; like anything else.

Kelley has some rich and deep subjects that she tackles in a unique way and that more than anything is what made me look closer. I found someone with a vibrant personality, in touch with the universe around her, and whose work is truly impressive. From her own Bio:

Kelley is best known for publishing shamanic memoir, spiritual nonfiction, and magickal realism. She also writes for The Huffington Post, and has maintained the blog Intentional Insights – Q&A From Within, since 2004. Her work has been published in Innerchange Magazine, Mystic Pop, SageWoman, The Beltane Papers, Women Writers, Women, Books, Savvy Authors, If… a Journal of Spiritual Exploration, OmPlace AltWire, Astro Abby.

Author S. Kelley Harrell

Poetry collections featuring her work include Chiron Review, The Blotter, Bottom Line Writers, Charlotte Writer’s Circle. Her short stories have been featured in The Windhover, The Olive Leaf.

Take a few moments to get to know more about this wonderful woman and all that she does, it really is quite impressive.

Interview with author S. Kelley Harrell

So the first question is when did you fall in love with writing; what was the catalyst for you?

I don’t recall not being in love with writing. Before I learned the alphabet, my mother transcribed stories I dictated to her. Learning to write was my gateway drug to life. I loved it—the feel of the pen in my hand, the evidence of my brain on paper, how it all fit together to form a cohesive movement. I just loved it from the beginning, and I still do.

I know a lot of writers write for several outlets beyond books, what other outlets do you work?

I have kept a blog for 9 years, Intentional Insights – Q&A From Within, responding to inquiries readers have about paranormal events in their lives, dreams, modern shamanism and animism. I also write a modern spirituality column for the Huffington Post, and I publish fiction under another name.

What genre(s) do you normally work in and why?

I am best known for shamanic memoir, though I also write nonfiction spirituality books, New Adult Magickal Realism, and all sorts of fiction. I’m just in love with writing. It’s another sense to me, so I filter as much expression through it as I possibly can.

How did you get started and were there any frustrations? How did you get beyond those?

The first book I submitted for publication was Gift of the Dreamtime, almost 10 years ago. At that time, no one was writing about modern shamanism, certainly not from within the ecstatic trance perspective. Everything you read on shamanism then was academic anthropology, fiction, or nonfictional accounts of what shamanism was like. My book was the first to show how the shamanic narrative (healing story) works from inside, making the reader part of the soul travel, thus healing.

At that time, publishers wanted anything shamanic to be shaped into a self-help book, following the recipe of personal story, universal conclusions drawn from that experience, followed by end-of-chapter exercises for the reader to journey along. To do that would have entirely changed the format and writing of my book, let alone that fantastic vantage point within trance. It took me a while to find a publisher who got what I was doing, and my life hasn’t been the same since!

What are your works thus far and where can people find them?

  • Gift of the Dreamtime – Awakening to the Divinity of Trauma
  • Real Wyrd – A Modern Shaman’s Roots in the Middle World
  • Gift of the Dreamtime Reader’s Companion

What is forthcoming and can you give a brief description?

I have a few nonfiction projects in the works. One is a collection of healing stories by female survivors of assault. I’m in the final stages of writing a memoir of shamanic techniques in working with chronic health conditions, and am mid-way through a comprehensive book on modern shamanism. I’ve also completed and am seeking a home for my first novel, The Last Snow Moon.

I have learned that the literary world can be quite cutthroat; what advice would you give to a person trying to find a way to publish their work?

Do what’s right for you, period. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to, but you know you need to. Things you don’t want to do aren’t the same as what doesn’t support your truth. Knowing that difference can take you a long way. Go with what’s right for you. It’s always the best path in the end.