Empath, Passion Projects, and Slaying Your Fears

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Empath, Passion Projects, and Slaying Your Fears

Two years ago today, I released a little passion project called Empath. Nicknamed the “anxiety dragon” book, Empath was less about “what’s popular” and more about pouring my loneliness and ache for home into something else so it would leave me. I’d become overwhelmed with my anxiety, which flares and spirals like a dragon in my mind. I wanted to write the things I could never say to my ex because I was too scared to. To write the things I could never say period because I was too scared to.

And that’s how that little dragon book came to be.

Trudging through the Pain

I hated writing Empath. To be fair, I was pretty unhappy at that point. It was the last quarter of 2014, and I had made the decision to move to Pensacola, but unable to do so for another eight months. I had grad school to pay back, a house to sell, and a career to relocate. There was still a question if this craziness was going to actually happen.

And life in DC was miserable. People often wonder why I have such bad things to say about the city, but in truth, it left a sour taste in my mouth. Every morning, I’d hop on the metro to a job I hated and hold my breath as the train would pass by my ex’s house. Would today be the day I ran into him? Was he still with his new girlfriend? Would they already be engaged? There was no escaping this morning and afternoon ritual.

There was also this crushing loneliness. Most of my friends had abandoned me in DC after I’d gone through my quarter-life crisis. The rest of my support system was a thousand miles away, and I couldn’t get there.

And the cherry on top was how this book screwed with my mental health. Forcing myself to write scenes where Lauren couldn’t breathe would trigger my own sympathetic response. Chronicling her musings about her ex (taken from my own memories), would leave me exhausted and miserable. In order to write her pain, I had to experience it.

What I Needed

Way back before the quarter life crisis, I refused to admit there was a problem in my life. I avoid pain and misery like the plague, and to accept this new reality would hurt like a son of a bitch. Although I’d gone to therapy, which lead to the rediscovery of writing as my self-care, I still hadn’t dealt with my pain. Writing Empath was spending three grueling months underwater in my grief and misery. And when I reached the end, I was clean.

Empath, a contemporary fantasy about a girl and her anxiety dragon.Does all this pain and misery result in a bestselling book? Not really. Empath sells maybe 1-2 eBooks per quarter, although it does very well at conventions (people like the dragon).

But it gets the most feedback. I received a five-page fan letter from a girl who was so moved by the book, she bought two more copies to share with the troubled girls she mentors. For a book that was written so closely to my own unique experience, it’s strangely a universal story. In some way, that makes those with whom it resonates feel a little less alone.

Breaking Free

I like to think everything happens for a reason. Had I not gotten this urge to write a book about my pain and misery, I might still be holding onto it. Changing location doesn’t solve a problem, although it can aid the solution. Because I’d written Empath, I was ready to move on, for real. When I arrived in Pensacola, I was ready to live a beautiful life. And life really is beautiful.

So happy book birthday, my little book. Here’s to many more years of breaking feels–and slaying fears.


About Empath


Slay Your Fears with Empath

After a mysterious voice promises an easy out to her problems, Lauren finds herself in a fantasy world with magical powers. Just one problem: There’s a dragon that might want to eat her.

Available Now

From bestselling author S. Usher Evans comes a unique take about a real-world girl transported to a fantasy land and faced with a dragon that just might be the manifestation of her mental illness. Empath has “broken the feels” of readers around the world and helped them slay their own fears. 

“I think we should just cut our losses and move on.”

If you ask Lauren Dailey, things are totally fine after the breakup. She doesn’t care that all her friends are getting engaged and moving on with their lives when all her dreams went up in smoke. She’s not crying herself to sleep every night. Everything is A-OK.

That is, until a mysterious voice promises an easy out to all her problems, and she wakes up in a fantasy world with the powers of an empath.

Without a way home, Lauren embraces her new life. There’s a village full of interesting characters, including Cefin, a handsome young man who’s everything a fantasy hero should be. She’s getting the hang of doing laundry in the river. And when she uses her empath powers, she’s temporarily distracted from the sadness that followed her from California and crops up at the most inconvenient times.

Still, there’s one large, dragon-shaped problem: The Anghenfil lives in the mountains nearby, and some say he’s got a taste for empaths. And Lauren’s afraid it might just be that mysterious voice tempting her deeper into her own darkness.

Empath will transport readers to a new world, while remaining firmly rooted in the realities of dealing with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Recommended for readers who need help overcoming their own dragons.

This is a stand-alone novel. Content warnings for suicide, substance abuse, and adult situations.

Praise for Empath

★★★★★ “A pint of ice cream for your soul.” – Erin Sky, author of The Wendy

★★★★ “A brilliant allegory” – Elizabeth F., Goodreads Reviewer

★★★★★ “As someone who faces anxiety on a daily basis, this book spoke to me.” – Katrina M., Goodreads Reviewer

★★★★★ “Empath is encouragement to accept your whole self and move forward into great adventure.” – Sierra D., Goodreads Reviewer

Empath Blog Posts and the Slay Your Fears Series

Empath, Passion Projects, and Slaying Your Fears

Two years ago today, I released a little passion project called Empath. Nicknamed the "anxiety dragon" book, Empath was less about "what's popular" and more about pouring my loneliness and ache for home into something else so it would leave me. I'd become overwhelmed with my anxiety, which flares and spirals [...]

Fear of Fear

There's nothing to fear but fear itself, but fear is pretty damned scary. This week, I've been sharing posts from 2015 about the things that scare me, updating them with progress for 2017. For the last post of the week, it's time to talk about the fear of fear. Empath is [...]

Fear of Rejection

A few years ago, I wrote some blogs about my biggest fears to celebrate the release of Empath, a book about a girl and her anxiety dragon. Two years later, I'm looking back on the fears I used to have to see how they stack up. Today, my fear of rejection. [...]

Fear of Being Alone Forever

When you have a fear of being alone forever, you make some dumb decisions. A few years ago, I wrote this blog post (plus a few more) when Empath was releasing. I wanted to share all the things I was afraid of, hoping someone might not feel alone. Two years later, [...]

Fear of (no) Money

To celebrate the two year anniversary of my anxiety dragon book, Empath, I'm re-posting the #SlayYourFears series. Basically, I took a leap of faith and wrote about all the things that scared me. I hoped sharing them would help others realize they weren't alone. Today, I'm talking about my fear of [...]

Empath Release!

About the Book Lauren Dailey is in break-up hell. Stuck between moving on and letting go, she puts on a brave face while crying herself to sleep at night. But when a mysterious voice promises escape from her sadness, she is suddenly transported to a new world. And in this place, [...]


Even though the relationship ended 20+ months ago, I've still had a hard time moving on. But I had an interesting thought on the metro a few days ago. I was passing by my ex's house, which I so happily have to do every morning on the way to work, and [...]

On First Drafts

Empath is the first "new" first draft that I've written in something like fifteen years. The spirit and character names come from a story I wrote when I was 12, but that story was written by a 12-year-old, and h'obviously needed to be scrapped. The characters as they exist today are strangers [...]

Taming the Dragon

I received a cordial email this week from the guy I broke up with almost sixteen months ago. I had posted on LinkedIn (the only social media that survived the connection-severing spree when we first broke up) that I had started a new company, and amidst the flurry of congratulations from [...]


Forward: To be honest, I wasn't sure that I wanted to post this. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, I've moved on. But still, I felt like there were some things unsaid that I wanted to say to mark the occasion. So, in the end, I decided to let it fly. One year ago, [...]

By |2017-04-19T09:10:28-05:00May 12th, 2017|Empath|Comments Off on Empath, Passion Projects, and Slaying Your Fears

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