HOLLINS, Va. (WFXR) — Hollins University graduate and renowned writer and author Kelley Shinn made a homecoming of sorts Thursday night. She returned to her alma mater during a tour in support of her new book, “The Wounds that Bind Us.”
Shinn is an Akron, Ohio native who spent nearly two decades living and working in the Roanoke area while studying and after graduating from Hollins. Shinn credits Hollins University as the place where she “grew up as a woman.” Her latest work is deeply personal.
“It’s a memoir about growing up in Akron and losing my legs at sixteen to bacterial meningitis, and then ten years later attempting to drive around the world to visit landmine survivors,” said Shinn following a reading and book signing at Hollins.
Despite losing her legs at a young age, Shinn did not let that stop her. She is a single mother, and she traveled the world, often off-roading, with her then three-year-old daughter. She says she was inspired to travel the globe to meet landmine survivors by an experience at Hollins.
“I was a student here at Hollins,” said Shinn smiling as she recalled the events she chronicles in her book. “I was off-roading on the side and was thinking already about global travel, and I came to a lecture here about landmine survivors network. I learned about these amputees and I thought, what a better reason to travel around the globe.”
Part of the book involves a trip Shinn made to Bosnia after the civil war there. Other parts focus on her childhood, past relationships, and her children. Shinn opens up in the book, calling it cathartic and painful, but says making yourself vulnerable is part of the process of growing as a person.
“I think we spend half of our lives trying on different costumes, and the other half removing them all until we get back to that naked vulnerable self,” Shinn said. “I think that’s what I try to do in writing.”
Shinn, who now lives in North Carolina, will make another appearance at a book signing from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9 at Book No Further on Market Street in downtown Roanoke.