Recognizing one of the ‘prose’

Jameson Filston, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor


Senior Michael Shaw signs a copy of his book, “Jack in the Box,” at Dogwood Books. Sophomore Sydney Henderson, Shaw’s girlfriend, put the signing together as a birthday surprise. Psychological thriller “Jack in the Box” and sci-fi thriller “The Pocket Watch” can be purchased on Amazon in e-book and paperback editions. 

Some people fill their high school free time with video games; a Berry senior wrote books instead.

Michael Shaw, a public relations major and creative writing minor, has been writing for nearly as long as he can remember. He wrote comics for fun, but began to write more seriously in middle school. He continued writing through high school and began thinking about sharing his work.

He has come a long way from middle school comics and has now self-published two books. Miles Flora, his roommate, he has seen Shaw grow as a writer, particularly the way he shares stories. 

His support has also grown. His girlfriend, sophomore Sydney Henderson, threw a surprise book signing at Dogwood bookstore for Shaw’s birthday. The signing took place on Feb. 11, and many of his friends brought books they had purchased for him to sign.

“It’s just beneficial to have friends who support him,” Flora said.

Shaw said  that he came about writing his first book in a rather odd way. He wrote a large portion of his first story, “Jack in the Box,” on the Apple notes app. He used this app because  he could write anywhere and worry about polish later. He worked on this book from grade 10 through grade 12.

He made a deal with himself that he would not get his hopes up until he reached 100 pages, but he doubled down on completing the book once he reached that goal. He had never finished a book before, so he was nervous, but determined.

“I’m trying to prove myself to myself,” Shaw said.

A big inspiration to his writing has been Ted Dekker. As a reader, he appreciated Dekker’s darker, more mature style of Christian writing. Shaw’s faith takes a role in his books as well. However, he wants to focus on the story first, and he sees this as an area where he can improve.

Sandra Meek, Dana professor of English, said she has seen Shaw improve in her classes. She observed his strong narrative sense and ability to channel voices from childhood, and she has seen his ability to modulate those voices improve.

She did not know that he had published his books until the book signing. She was not surprised that he had published books nor that he had not told her.

“He’s a modest person,” Meek said, “He doesn’t talk about those kinds of things.”

While the writing of a story is his true passion, he is glad when people read his work.

He self-published “Jack in the Box” in 2013 and his second work, “The Pocket Watch” in 2015,  with Amazon’s CreateSpace, because he wanted readers to read it right away. He had to do his own marketing and graphic design this way, but it allowed him more freedom.

When he was writing “The Pocket Watch,” Shaw pushed himself to write a  book that was longer and more expansive. The book’s subject matter was also challenging since he decided to write a sci-fi story about time travel. Shaw said that he got help from friends to help him explore time and time paradoxes in the book.

“I was in a nerdy place,” said Shaw.

The books now take a backseat to Shaw’s academic life. He does not pay attention to the numbers, and does not even know how many he has sold in the past year. Since Amazon only prints a book when someone orders it, losing money is not a worry either. 

Shaw does get the occasional paycheck from Amazon, but it’s not a sustainable amount. However, he knew going in that he would not make much money off of this endeavor, and is happy that people are interested.

“Amazon will send me an email like someone bought your book, and it will just brighten my day up a bit,” Shaw said, “Then I’ll go about cramming for an exam the next day.”

Leave a Reply