Best-selling author Allen Eskens gave a talk on his book “The Shadows We Hide” on Thursday night at the Barry County Enrichment Center.
That book is the sequel to his debut novel “The Life We Bury,” which was an Edgar Award finalist. His debut novel was released in 2014 and won him three awards: Barry Award for best paperback original, Rosebud Award for best first mystery, and Silver Falchion Award for best first novel: traditional. He is currently writing a screenplay for his debut novel, which had the movie rights sold.
Eskens was brought to the Barry County Enrichment Center by the Barry County libraries. The libraries received a donation from the Women's Giving Circle of Barry County, said Hastings Public Library director Peggy Hemerling.
Barbara Haywood, the coordinator of adult services and marketing at the Hastings Public Library, said this is the first time in 12 years that the libraries have brought in an author.
“People are very excited that an author is here,” Haywood said.
Eskens credits his first-grade teacher for creating his career in writing.
“I was looking at my report cards and on the back she wrote: ‘Allen dreams too much when he should be getting work done.' ”
Eskens describes himself as a day dreamer – and that is where he finds his novel ideas.
“My path wasn't the same as most authors,” he said, adding that he wasn't the best student in school, either.
“I was the kid you don’t want your kid to be around,” Eskens said. “I was just trying to get done with my four years and work construction.”
Eskens’ first passion was theater. He credits his fifth-grade teacher for getting him involved in the play. He participated in the school play during his freshman year and learned how to express his creativity through his theater classes. While in theater, he started hanging around kids who were going to go to college and it inspired him to work harder to get into college.
Eskens was accepted into the University of Iowa where he studied theater. He found a hidden talent in dance while at Iowa. He began studying classes such as ballet and tae kwon do. Eskens sprained his ankle and realized he couldn't do what he wanted to in the dance field, so he decided to change his major to journalism and transfer to the University of Minnesota.
At Minnesota, Eskens studied hard and received “almost straight As.”
Then Eskens decided to go to law school. He graduated from law school at Hamline University and practiced law for 25 years. After starting his law career, he immediately realized something was missing – his creative side.
That's when Eskens decided to write his first short story. His short story eventually turned in to a chapter, then a manuscript. It took him 20 years to finish, but he wasn’t happy with it.
“I put it aside and wrote my second manuscript,” Eskens said. “I was going to write whether I got it published or not because it was what I enjoyed doing.”
His second manuscript became his first novel. His first novel took him 28 years to finish.
“I rewrote the entire manuscript because I grew so much as a writer over that time,” Eskens said.
Eskens said he believes his writing “evokes emotion” from his readers and credits that to his penchant for day dreaming and making fiction a part of his life.
“Finding your passion is a key to a happy life,” Eskens said. “If you find something you truly love doing, you never work a day in your life.”