I have always loved writing and have always spent some of my free time writing, but it was never a serious personal goal of mine.
Instead, I spent twelve years working toward a career as an academic. I love anthropology, love history, and love the way the human mind works — my Ph.D. allowed me to combine the study of these things. I traveled the world. Got to live in places that few Americans even know exist. There were some detours along the way (law school, professional dog walking, video game writing, etc.) but my real career goal was to become a professor at a small liberal arts university. And I did! I got my dream job as a tenure track professor and got to teach my dream classes about human rights, social justice, international conflict resolution, and best of all, the history of globalization.
But then we had our son and everything changed. As an infant, he had fairly serious medical issues and my husband and I quickly realized we couldn’t both work full time and help our son get the medical care he needed. So, when my husband got a great job offer in the Bay Area, I quit my Assistant Professorship and we moved away from family and friends.
Though I loved having the ability to stay home and take care of our son, and he definitely needed full time support, the lack of adult conversation and mental stimulation made me feel isolated. Suddenly, rather than traveling the world, being constantly immersed in heated debate and social justice activism, mentoring amazing students and working to create a place of learning, I spent my days with a two year old at medical appointments. All of a sudden I didn’t have anything to talk about other than poop and playdates.
Over time, things with our son got better. His medical issues began to resolve and I occasionally found myself having a few moments to do whatever I wanted. In those moments I rediscovered writing. Writing gave me something totally my own. Writing gave me something to think about, something to do in those rare stolen moments when I wasn’t driving to the park, playing with finger paint, or sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms.
I began writing just for fun, something to fill the space in my over-active mind. Then I started a crime thriller…and got really far into it before realizing I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing fiction. My first attempt will never, ever see the light of day!
Since I didn’t have the time or money for writing classes, I shifted to writing short stories to work on my craft. I spent two years writing one to two short stories a month and began submitting my work to various magazines. At first I got nothing but form rejections. Then, lo-and-behold, I started getting personal rejections with feedback from editors. And finally, I began to sell short stories! When I finally sat down to write a novel, I knew I wanted to write a crime thriller that allowed me to think about the things I love the most. So CAGED grew out of my true passions — cultural history, neurobiology, and dogs. And that is how CAGED was born.
Dana Wilson saysJuly 26, 2018 at 10:37 pm
I was disappointed … Not by your writing but by the fact that Caged is your sole novel so far. I gave it my highest rating and was disappointed that there weren’t any more for me to read right now! I will be eagerly awaiting more. So glad to learn your son’s problems are resolving. Keep up the great work!
P.S. Your dog ought to have a play date with Bob, Morelli’s dog (Janet Evanovich).
Ellison Cooper saysJuly 26, 2018 at 11:39 pm
Ha! Thank you so much, Dana.
Lindsay saysMarch 10, 2020 at 2:01 pm
You have just become my favorite author. I’m somewhat glad I’m late to the game, since it means you have more than one book published! I’ve read Caged and Buried; both had my rapt attention. I listen to audio books when I travel for work (during flights/drives) and with both Caged and Buried it was challenging to quit listening when I needed to do work, upon arrival! Your storytelling is intelligent, immersive and well-paced. Your chararter development is engaging. I’m not some who routinely writes authors, but when I came to your page searching for another book, I read your bio and immediately understood why your storytelling surpasses most fiction writers. Your depth of knowledge must be amazing and you convey it creatively. So, after reading the bio, I was compelled to write for two reasons – to give thanks for your literary creations and to encourage you to continue creating!! Now I just need to convince myself to hold off buying Cut to the Bone, before my next trip, so I can savor it whilst flying driving. Best wishes for you and your family. I am happy you were able to take time to be with your son. I hope he’s thriving now!
Ellison Cooper saysMarch 10, 2020 at 2:12 pm
Thank you so much, Lindsay! I love hearing that you enjoyed reading my books and thank you for asking after my son. He is doing wonderfully these days.