Buried in a Book
Erin Butler has always had an appreciation for good stories—especially those with a twist of spooky.
She wrote her first one in kindergarten—about witches. Later, Butler wrote poetry and was fascinated by the work of R.L. Stein, bestselling author of The Goosebumps series and other books.
As a student at Syracuse University she envisioned a career as a school librarian—helping young people develop their own love of books. Today, she is a librarian with the Onondaga County Public Library’s Central Branch in downtown Syracuse, where she often works with young readers. And with the publication of her first book, Blood Hex (Evernight Teen), she is a newly minted author.
Released this spring, Blood Hex is a mix of paranormal, romance and historical fiction. Butler, 30, says the road to publication was not an easy one.
“Blood Hex was the first book I tried to write, and I rewrote it, I don’t know … about 10 times,” she says with a laugh. “I learned that 75 percent of being a writer is doing revisions.”
Butler, of Fulton, started writing Blood Hex at her antique spinet desk in 2009. The story was inspired, in part, by Butler’s interest in Mother Shipton, a British prophetess who died in 1561. It took a year for her to complete a draft. When she decided to start submitting it for publication, she revised it yet again and started work on another project.
“Submitting manuscripts is not for the faint of heart,” Butler says. “But I will say you kind of get used to the rejection. I must have sent Blood Hex out to over 100 agents.”
She juggled the process with her library duties and spending time with her busy family. Husband Thomas Moore, stepson Tyler, and dog Maxie are her biggest supporters. Moore doesn’t mind when she is on a roll with her writing and doesn’t want to stop to cook dinner or fold the laundry. And he shared Butler’s joy when, last year, Blood Hex was picked up by Evernight.
But Butler admits that Tyler, 15, isn’t exactly a fan—yet. Blood Hex’s romantic storyline has greater appeal with young female readers.
According to Kara Greene, who handles media relations for the OCPL, Blood Hex is currently available for loan through the library system, including on a shelf at the Central branch.
In April, hot on the heels of her initial success, Butler signed a three-book deal with a smaller publisher: Entangled. The deal was based on the strength of her second book, How We Lived. Butler describes this book as a “college-age contemporary romance.” It’s due out this summer.
“Writing that book was a totally different experience than with my first one,” Butler says. “I actually wrote it in six days. The whole process was easier and I think I sold it five days after I started sending it out.”
Butler has been a librarian with OCPL since 2011. For much of that time she has worked with teens and young adults, assisting with programming and ordering for that demographic. While her role has changed in recent months, Butler says her fascination with literature for that age group has not. And being a writer herself, Butler has extra insight into what is popular with teen and young adult readers.
“Because I write, I’m more easily in touch with what’s coming out on the market,” she says.
What has been most difficult, she admits, is figuring out what preteen and early-teen boys like to read. She loves discovering young, independent authors who explore topics more interesting to the guys. In her work with OCPL, she worked hard to improve male participation in her reading clubs.
“I try to talk to as many teen guys as I can,” she says. “I usually steer them to graphic novels, non-fiction, stuff like that. The current interest in zombies and vampires has drawn some male readers.”
Butler says suspenseful stories, based on technology and how it is used, are gaining appeal with boys. She expects this genre to grow over the next few years.
Butler’s admiration for the authors whose books she recommends at OCPL is unabashed, making the buzz of being a newly published author even sweeter. She recently enjoyed an impromptu book signing at Daddy Ed’s Restaurant in Mexico while having lunch with her parents. Butler’s parents are regulars at the popular eatery and had kept the staff updated on the trials of getting her first book published.
In May, Butler did a blog tour, which enabled her to communicate directly with potential readers. “It’s basically doing guest posts on various blogs,” she explains. “Readers can give feedback, which is pretty cool. That’s one thing I really like about being a writer today: The Internet enables you to have an interactive exchange with the people who read your book.”
Butler’s next two books for Entangled Publishing are written and ready to go, but that doesn’t mean her writing desk is gathering dust. On a recent day off from the library, she was back at it—cell phone off, the world on hold, as she worked on a new idea.
“If I get to be a full-time writer, that would be my dream,” Butler says. “But being a librarian is a very good second choice. At least I get to be around books all the time. Having two jobs I really like is pretty awesome.”
Award-winning writer Tammy DiDomenico lives in DeWitt with her husband and two sons.
Photo Above: Michael Davis Photo