Jellico native Chasity Bowlin might be able to thank a case of the H1N1 flu for helping her publish her first novel, The Haunting of a Duke.
“I caught swine flu. I was quarantined in my house for 11 days, and on my third day I ran out of things to read,” she said. “And I’d been writing for years, and I just dug back on the files on my laptop and reading some of the things I had written, and it just kind of sparked my interest again.”
That was August 2010. By the time Bowlin was ready to go back to work, half of the book was on paper.
“I have always written. Always. From pretty much the time I could spell,” she said. “I come from a family that’s kind of storytellers.”
Six months later, the book was finished.
Bowlin shopped her book to different presses until Wild Rose Press, a small, independent romance novel publisher picked the book up in August 2011.
“From the time that I signed the contract with Wild Rose to the time the book came out, it was almost a year. That’s pretty standard for the romance genre.”
The Haunting of a Duke is a regency romance, a historically accurate one, Bowlin emphasized.
“It’s sort of a Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice meets Ghost Hunter kind of thing. It’s a paranormal regency,” she said.
While getting a book published is new, Bowlin is no stranger to a pen, and spinning tales is a family tradition.
“It’s part of the Appalachian culture. By and large we are all storytellers. You come from that region, it’s just sort of engrained in you,” she said.
The Haunting of a Duke went to press last summer.
“I’m one of the very, very incredibly blessed and lucky ones that the road to publication did not take years. From the time my book was in its final completed stage to when I got a contract for it was maybe about 9 months,” Bowlin said. “It was just blind luck.”
Bowlin cried when she first saw the cover art, and again when she received her first review.
“It’s definitely the fulfillment of a lifelong dream,” she said.
It’s surreal to see a book with your name on it for sale on Amazon, she said.
“The first time I saw my name on the cover, I was just like ‘Oh my God.’ That’s really happening to me, from Jellico. My name is out there on a book for the whole world to see. That was another moment I cried,” she said. “It’s definitely been exciting, terrifying, wonderful, nerve-wracking and about half a dozen other contradictory adjectives.”
While the book isn’t available yet in local stores, Amazon sells the paperback version for $13.99. The Kindle version is $5.99.
Bowlin has another novel in the works that she hopes to submit to Wild Rose in the spring.
“I don’t have any idea of when it will come out. I’ll submit it whenever they [Wild Rose] have an open spot on their schedule,” she said.
When she’s not writing, the 1992 Jellico High School grad is at home in Richmond, Ky., where she works as a family preservationist. Her father and grandmother still call Jellico home.