Many students have hobbies outside of class, but few have hobbies that get their writing published. Junior Josh Ellerbeck, a communication studies major, held his third book signing for his most recent book “Streetlights.”
Ellerbeck’s 400-page novel, “Streetlights,” was published Aug. 30, 2022, to not only raise awareness for Huntington’s disease, but also raise money for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America (HDSA). This book required heavy research from Ellerbeck to portray the scenes accurately.
Ellerbeck’s previous novels have included conversations about eating disorders and school shootings. Ellerbeck said he’s open to the idea of writing about more medical conditions in the future and knows that even though it requires a lot of research, it could help people.
“I want to encourage people with that, but also just to reach out to people to encourage them with whatever mental health struggles they’re going through or with anything they might be struggling with, in general, just to have a little bit of encouragement for the people that I’m talking to,” Ellerbeck said.
Ellerbeck keeps track of all his story ideas and feels that the concepts that stick with him are the ones that are worth writing. “Streetlights” was one concept that came to fruition from that long list. Currently, Ellerbeck has no plans to write about medical health issues but wants to continue exploring through research.
“I think it’d be interesting to write more about different medical conditions in the future,” Ellerbeck said. “Right now, I don’t know what that looks like since this is more of just a very different genre for me, writing medical fiction. It was taking a shot in the dark and seeing where it led me. So it’s definitely something I want to keep exploring in the future. But you never know, I might be led to write something else.”
In the future, Ellerbeck said it’s possible he will move to children’s stories because he thinks it would be fun to work with an illustrator and write fun stories to diversify the things he publishes. Although he does well with chapter books, Ellerbeck said other authors also write different kinds of books on the side for kids and teens if that’s not their main audience.
“I think the biggest thing is just diversifying who I am as an author and who I’m writing to, because there are a lot of different kinds of readers out there of different age groups. And I just find it interesting and inspiring how authors can cater to those different age groups by writing such different things for different people,” Ellerbeck said.
One of Ellerbeck’s goals for his children’s books is to encourage young readers to continue reading and writing, but to also face things that make them uncomfortable.
“That book will talk about overcoming fears, but also…you’re not doing it alone when you’re overcoming fears. You have people by your side, people who want to be by your side
, and you can’t expect yourself to get any better without those pushes of encouragement from other people out,” Ellerbeck said.
All of Ellerbeck’s books are available on Amazon, including “Streetlights.” The sequel to “Streetlights” is tentatively planned to be published in September.