Author Spotlight: E.S. Barrison

TJ: Hello! Welcome to Author Spotlight where both new and veteran authors share a little about themselves and their work. Today we have fantasy author E.S. Barrison. Let’s get into it. Care to tell readers us about yourself? 

E.S. Barrison: Hi! My name is E.S. Barrison…but you can call me Elayna. I use my initials primarily because I like how they look on the front cover of books. I was born in NY, but moved to Tampa, Florida when I was ten years old. After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in finance, I spent quite a few years in Gainesville before moving to Orlando with my fiancé and dog. In the “real world” I work as an investment analyst. In my free time I enjoy traveling (when we aren’t in a pandemic), reading, and knitting. 

TJ: Awesome. I go by my initials because I like the way it looks too.  What inspired you to become a writer?

E.S. Barrison: The answer to this is due to a few things. I can first pinpoint wanting to be a writer to when I was 11 years old. After I auditioned for my school talent show, thinking I could sing, and learning I couldn’t…I was crushed. But then one night I had a dream that involved a combination of the Magic School Bus and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.Inspired, I started to write it down…and that’s when I realized I wanted to be a writer. From then on, I wrote a bunch of different stories – even participating in writing workshops in my middle school – and in eighth grade (at age 13) you can say I got “serious”. 

Enter Ms. Black’s 8th Grade English Class. We were given a prompt to write a suspense/horror story for Halloween. I wrote a story called Red Ink. At the time I thought was amazing…I recently read it again, and it was quite painful. This story is the starting point for what ultimately became my novel, The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice. In this story I introduced the character known as the “woman in black” and from there began to build out my other characters…which after thirteen years of work led to a very different story being published. 

Of course, I don’t think I would have gotten there without a few of my friends who helped me flesh out the characters through RPG, AU writing exercises, and more. 

Yet, I also couldn’t have gotten there without the two people who inspired me the most. This was a long-winded way of getting here, but my grandparents, David and Rhoda Oser, are the ones who really inspired me in the end.

Grandpa David and Grandma Rhoda were probably my two biggest influencers with my writing. My grandmother would let me talk to her about my stories and encouraged me to write. She read almost all my writing when she was alive. As far back as I remember, she wanted me to tell stories. In fact, one of the earliest things I remember writing is a Harry Potterfan fiction with her! 

Then there’s my grandfather. He was a self-published author as well, but not through Amazon. He used a self-publishing small press. I always looked up to him and wanted to be a writer like him. Unfortunately, he also passed away before I published my novel, but I hope I would make them proud today. 

So I know I just wrote my own novel there, but that’s basically where all my inspiration comes from: a strange dream, an 8th Grade English Class, and my grandparents. 

T.J.:  I’m sure your grandfather would be proud of you for following in his footsteps. If you could meet any person dead or alive, who would it be and why?

E.S. Barrison: 
My answer probably won’t be a traditional one. Whenever I’m posed with this question, I can’t think of a “famous” person I’d want to meet. Instead, I think I’d want to explore my family tree.

I’m fascinated with genealogy and heritage. While my genetics are straight forward (I took an Ancestry DNA test and it came back 100% Eastern European Jewish), I would love to see where I came from. What do I have in common with my Great Grandmother Esther (my namesake) or my Great Grandmother Sylvia (my middle name)? What about Paula? Or Philip? Did my ancestor really own a bear in Russia, as the stories go?

We carry stories in our genes and in our actions, leaving traces wherever we go. This is a fundamental part of The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice (as well as the entire series). So, I would love to know the stories of my past. 

I don’t know which person I would meet first…but I would love to hear their stories, whoever I spoke to first.

T.J: I love this reply! My family is full of interesting stories too. I get my love of storytelling from them. Now, is my favorite part of the interview, hearing all about your work. Can you tell readers about The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice (The Life & Death Cycle)?

E.S. Barrison: Well, I’ve already dug a bit into it above, but let’s give this a go!

My debut novel, released in June 2020, is called The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice, which is book one in my series, The Life & Death Cycle. This first book really centers around 21-year-old Brent Harley, a storyteller in a society where storytelling and magic are outlawed. One day, he encounters a mysterious woman in black that no one else can see…and he follows her, of course, which introduces him to his fate: to become a Mist Keeper…or essentially, Death. 

The story also follows Rho though, a young woman who has plant magic. She has been hiding her magic for her whole life. But when Brent begins to exhibit issues with his magic and their lives become intertwined, she is forced out of the shadow.

I’ll post the blurb below, but that is the general gist of it! Other things you can find in this story include: romance, a diverse cast, a corrupt religious order and government, storytelling taverns and magic, and much more! 

This, as I mentioned, is only book one in the series. It’s anticipated to be six books total, with a few possible spin-off projects, and the sequel, A Pool of Peony, is coming out this August. I’ll be posting more updates soon. 

If you’re interested, here is the full blurb for The Mist Keeper’s Apprentice

Storytelling was outlawed. Magic had all but vanished.

That all changed when the woman in black came to town.

Branded with the black stamp at a young age, Brent thought he would end up a vagrant like his father. His craft was telling stories, but the Order had long forbidden any weaving of tales. When Brent sees the woman in black, she leads him into a menagerie of tunnels beneath the earth where his life falls into the nauseating, but beautiful, mist of the dead.

He finds friendship in Rho, a young woman who hides her face with a tree branch while roots and vines bow to her every whim. Together, they embark on a journey to explore the world, escape the watchful eyes of the Order, and discover the woman in black’s secrets.

For thousands of years, the mist and the tunnels were under the sole guardianship of the Council of Mist Keepers. But as new monsters enter the mist, and magic is forced out of the shadows, the Council searches for young blood to join their ranks and Brent’s next in line.

Content Warning: This book is rated 16+ for mentions of death, violence/sexual assault, adult language, alcohol use, and psychological abuse/trauma.

TJ: It’s been a huge pleasure interviewing you and learning more about someone I see in sixty second snippets on Tiktok.  Thank you for visiting my blog. Hope to have you back again!

E.S. Barrison: 
Thank you for having me! 

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