Episode 30

The Legacy of Fractured Living: An Exploration of Mothers, Daughters, and Sensuality with Ella Shawn

On today's episode, we're chatting with Ella Shawn, a southern erotic women's fiction author who at one point, housed 13 guinea pigs, and that's just the beginning of this southerner's charm.

After thirteen years of teaching high school English and creative writing, a diagnosis of systemic lupus and narcolepsy with cataplexy freed Ella from accepting a good-enough-for-now-life and demanded she creates an I-deserve-it-all-life.

Ella Shawn tells the forbidden stories of Black, Southern women who find healing and freedom through the practice of sacred eroticism. She is the author of the Broken Souls Series (Broken Souls, Mirrored Souls, Consecrated Souls, Harmonious Souls), and host of the Enchanted BEAST Podcast, available on twelve platforms. Ella is excited to launch her latest podcast in June of this year entitled, Black Writer Therapy. As a member of the South Carolina Writers Association, she serves as the Critique Chapter Liaison to the Board of Directors. She is also an active member of the Women's Fiction Writer Association.

At home, Ella Shawn is one-half of an old married couple. Together for thirty years, married for twenty-three of thoseā€¦ the high school sweethearts have three brilliant daughters, two cats, and a service dog.

Ella knows without the love and support of her family and fur family, she would not be able to do any of what she does.

If you'd like to purchase Ella's books, connect with her on social media, or join her monthly newsletter list, use the link below.

https://bio.site/EllaShawnWrites

You can also check out Ella Shawn's latest podcast, Black Writer Therapy right where you are listening to this podcast or visit - https://www.ellashawn.com/podcast for more information.

Transcript

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Shawna Rodrigues [:

Ella Shawn is a Southern erotic women's fiction writer, podcaster, diversity sensitivity writing coach, and avid crocheter. She tells the forbidden stories of black Southern women who find healing and liberation through the practice of sacred eroticism. So I'm thrilled for her to be here today and give us this unique take on things.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Thank you so much for being here, Ella. Welcome.

Ella Shawn [:

Thank you so much for having me, Shauna. I'm excited to be here.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes. And so we always start with the same question, which is, tell me the most interesting thing about where you are from.

Ella Shawn [:

fathered a Black daughter in:

Shawna Rodrigues [:

That is a really good way to put it. It is amazing how much people fight against the parts that are part of them in some ways at times. So yes. I want to hear more about you growing up. What is 1 of your earliest memories?

Ella Shawn [:

1 of my earliest memories is walking behind my uncles and my older cousins. We had a pot of family land and so we'd always have a spring garden and just kind of walking behind them. I think I may have been 5 or 6. They would chop a little bit of earth. I'd drop a little seed and I had to be able to eyeball the right amount of dirt to put on top because if you put too much you're gonna keep the seeds from growing because they won't get the Sun but if you do too little then the Sun's gonna scorch them and I was like that was like a really great memory for me. Just kind of, da, da, da, da, behind my uncles and my, you know, my older male cousins being very responsible and focused because I didn't want them to say, what are you doing Ella? Fix it. You can't keep messing up. You're messing us up." So I was really kind of focused and that was a great memory.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

That is a great memory. And to have that awareness and the responsibility of it because I still think people planting stuff don't realize the importance of the depth of doing things. So that awareness is kind of an exciting thing to be getting at such a young age.

Ella Shawn [:

Yes, well that's how it is. That's how it was in the country.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

No, that makes great sense. And so for your books, you have a series. Give us a little overview of your series and a little bit about your writing.

Ella Shawn [:

Okay, so I have a series. It's called the Broken Souls series and the first book is a title of the series Broken Souls and then it goes into Mirrored Souls and Consecrated Souls and Harmonious Souls and to be honest with you I really thought I was writing about the main character, reclaiming her womanhood and finding her way in the world. And it turned out that I was really writing about this whole mother-daughter disconnect in relationships and how mothers are never truly honest with their daughters about who they are, what they were, why they made choices, and how they passed that legacy of fractured living onto their daughters. And I didn't figure that out until like the fourth book, the final book. But it's also about how mothers don't give their daughters permission to really connect with their own sensual selves and to understand how that part of themselves is more than just what you give away in hopes of keeping someone with you. It is your source of creativity and it is your source of peace and it is your source of power and thoroughly enjoyed working with all of the characters. In fact I went into a deep depression when I finished the fourth book because I was like, I'm not going to see them anymore. I'm not going to have every day with them.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yes, you lost your friends. That is so incredible that your characters grew with you and with the series enough that you were able to see new angles and parts of them through writing. That is incredible.

Ella Shawn [:

It was. And it was like, I knew that my main character would be a DID system. And so they are a dissociative identity disorder system. And it was just like, I loved building those characters. I never saw them as 1 character and 4 different voices. They always came to me like in these separate ways and they always looked so completely different from each other. And so writing for them was amazing. Just getting to know them as individuals and figuring out how they would work as a collective was a lot of fun which led me down a huge spiritual journey personally and it took them down this spiritual journey of just you know reconciling the fact that this is you know maybe we're not the anomaly maybe we're the model that the universe is trying to show everybody this is how I create you all this is why you all exist so that I can validate my existence the universe is saying this to the collective and so it was just a lot of fun a lot of hard research a lot of difficult writing because it is based in trauma and tragedy and dark horrible things.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

There's so much to your writing like every time I learn a little bit more about your books and about you what you've written that you have such a unique way of framing them. The eroticism element that you have to them, but the spiritual element that you have to them. And yet we also, as we speak, I learn more about this tragedy and this character growth and these relationships and all these angles. So it sounds like there was a lot of depth to your books.

Ella Shawn [:

I'm going to say this, for me writing is like painting with words.

[:

My daughter is an artist and she's an oil, she you know that's her medium oils and it's about the layering so that you can create depths and shadows and play around with light. I write that way. I prefer to make sure that, you know, once you read 1 book and you go and you read the second book, I want you to have to go back to the first book and say, wait, did she prepare me for this in that book and realize that I did? And that's kind of the way I approach writing because if all I'm going to give you is a superficial story that you can read, you know, the first couple of paragraphs and know where it's going to end, then there really for me is no point in writing and putting something out there. So like yes, I follow a very spiritual path in my writing because for me eroticism, everybody gets so caught up in the carnality of it, but for me eroticism resides in the spiritual body. Sexuality of course resides in the physical body because that is a 5 sense kind of situation, but eroticism, That is the ability to take what could happen in 20 seconds and stretch it out to eternity, experiencing it all within the same snap of time. That's eroticism, being in that space, holding space for pleasure to extend beyond what is expected while still living in that real-time element.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

That's incredible. And so for you to have found your voice in your writing, did it take you a long time to get that place to find your voice? Or do you feel like it was always there and you just found the books and the place to kind of put it into?

Ella Shawn [:

I've always known what my voice would be as a writer. It has always been through eroticism. I knew I would always write through that lens, even as like a 17, 18-year-old, you know, piddling around with poetry. What has taken me a long time is being able to say, oh yes I'm Elishaan and I write erotica, I write erotic women's fiction. That has taken me a very long time up until like a year ago I was still saying I'm a romance writer. I write romance. I write dark romance. But no I don't write romance. I literally write erotica. But that has taken me a long time to give myself permission to own not only what I craft, but to own what I absolutely love about being a woman, which is that feminine, erotic, creative energy. I've always had the voice. I just didn't have the, what is it, the courage to own it outside of my writing.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Yeah, and I think it's because of the judgment that people snap to with those things that they don't wait to hear what goes with it. And it's so beautiful to hear you describe it and hear you say about it, what it is that you write and why you write what you write. And so it's beautiful. I'm glad you are here sharing that with us.

Ella Shawn [:

No, I'm glad to be here. I mean, you have to consider this, Shawna. I'm in South Carolina, the Bible Belt. I grew up Baptist in the Black Baptist Church, where you were going to hell for even thinking about anything outside of Christ and God. And so to walk away from all of that and own all of myself, It's been quite a journey and 1 that I'm just so happy that I took, you know. And I think the Broken Souls series is kind of like it helped me move away from all of that and kind of shed that guilt, shed the shame, and just embrace, you know, being a woman and a writer who enjoys eroticism.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

That's incredible. I think that speaks to a lot of other women being able to embrace who they are and the parents and the mothers and what they were taught and what they were passed down and who they are and what they had a hard time talking about and what they had a hard time embracing. And the more we perpetuate it, the harder we have, the harder time we have being who we really are. So it's amazing that you're doing this and being able to talk about it and write about it and step into it more. That's incredible. So thank you for sharing that with us. That's wonderful.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And so when it comes to what writing inspires you, like, is there a book or a story that's been really inspirational to you in your journey?

Ella Shawn [:

Yes, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, and she is hands down my favorite author. I absolutely adore her. I didn't discover her until my senior year in high school, and then I became a devout worshiper of Zora Neale Hurston. That book redefined womanhood for me and it also redefined what a marriage, what a relationship was for me. Seeing Janie laying out under that tree, looking up at the bumblebees and them going in and out of the flowers. And she was like, so this is a marriage. This is what it means to be married. You give no more than you take and you take no more than you give, but you are both being fed, you're both happy, you're both whole, separate and together. And it kind of set a standard for me that I never deviated from, ever.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

That's incredible.

Ella Shawn [:

That book changed my life.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And so what is the best way for people to be able to find you and to be able to connect with you and with your work?

Ella Shawn [:

Yeah, definitely my website, you know, it's www.elishawn.com. Very simple, easy to get to.

Ella Shawn [:

You can get my books there.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

Very smart

Ella Shawn [:

Exactly, you can get the books there, my blog is there. You can send me a little email if you wanna talk. It's all there on my website.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

And you have more than 1 podcast, too. So do you want to share your podcast?

Ella Shawn [:

Oh, my word. So yes, while writing the Broken Soul series, I did a podcast called Enchanted Beast Podcast. And it really is me as a writer working out my spiritual and intellectual conundrums and trying to figure out how my characters fit and through their own situation and it's still available I am no longer producing new episodes but it's like 62 episodes out there and you know I go back and listen sometimes and I get a lot of insight So that podcast is there and I am so excited to announce that I will be launching a new podcast black writer therapy podcast sometime in June And that podcast is really kind of a call out to the publishing industry that it is time to do what you said you were going to do and be more equitable in your approach to offering up of the publishing contracts for black women particularly. And I focus on black women writers and we're just gonna have the conversations, spill the tea and see what happens.

Shawna Rodrigues [:

No, that's amazing. That's so important. You're doing really important things, Ella. And I'm so glad that you are doing that. And it's not easy and it's not simple. And your voice is imperative. So thank you for all that you're doing and all that you're contributing and for coming and sharing with us today. It was a pleasure to have you.

Ella Shawn [:

Thank you so much for having me. This was fun.

About the Podcast

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About your host

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Shawna Rodrigues

Shawna Rodrigues, Founder and Director of Impact at Authentic Connections Podcast Network, Host of The Grit Show (https://podcast.thegritshow.com) and Author Express (https://bit.ly/AuthorExpressPod) and coming in 2024- Authenticity Amplified. Shawna is a Podcast Mentor, Internationally Best-Selling Author (www.shawnarodrigues.com) and consultant.
Find her on Instagram @ShawnaPodcasts.