A Light in the Dark - Shannon Knight

13 Jun 2023

I caught COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020. None of it went the way I’d expected. I’d run a mountain marathon the month before, I had a robust immune system, and I was medically young. Nonetheless, it seemed I was going to die. Weeks passed, months passed, and I did not improve. In fact, new symptoms kept appearing, so that the random, extreme malfunctioning of my body became my norm. I strove to breathe, to haul my bones to the toilet, and to endure constant pain. Alluding to The Princess Bride, COVID was my Dread Pirate Roberts. “Good night, Shannon. Good work. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”


During the first two and a half years, I had passing access to my own thoughts. See, even self-reflection was no longer readily accessible. In my moments of clarity, I accepted death. I accepted the life I had lived up to this point. I also really wished I’d put those books out. I decided that if the mental capacity to pull it off returned to me, I would self-publish. It was roughly around the two-and-a-half-year mark that my life changed. One of the many medical tests yielded results and a treatment. Suddenly, I could sit up. Out of bed. For many hours! My mind opened. I could think again! I started studying Korean. I could do it! I could simply stand up! I wanted to run. I wanted to build my body back up.

My new limitations clarified themselves, but I began work on self-publication. I could study Korean, but for some reason, I couldn’t understand my own novel. That was bad. My daily reserve of expendable energy was quite small. I minimized my steps, ate instant food, and focused on self-pub. I reached out to editors, to cover artists. I created spreadsheets of prices and timelines. Some of the waits were extensive. I worked as long as I coherently could each day, with my body wilting and vision blurring as I hit my cut-off point. Unfortunately, my symptoms were increasing, and my functionality decreasing. It wasn’t long before I could only sit up for two hours per day. I emailed my doctor. He said, “Oh, yes. It’s common for this medication to fail. We’ll take you off of it for a reset. We can also keep doubling the doses as it successively fails. Each time, there’s a fifty-fifty chance these methods will work.” Confused, I emailed the artist and editor I had been planning with and put the project on hold. Off the meds, I returned to that no-person space.

On round two of the meds, I threw away all notions of exercise or cooking. Everything was about my books. I hired the editor. I confirmed that the artists would not be available before my next expected round of med failure. I had long pursued art as a hobby, but never anything digital. I decided to do the best with what I could accomplish myself in a race against my failing body. But I was improving! I was much more capable than during round one. I completed the Insiders revisions with ease, perfectly understanding my story, and feeling frustrated at the number of errors my copyeditor had not caught. I gave the manuscript multiple extra sweeps myself to make sure I was satisfied with it. I published both Wish Givers and Insiders in January 2023. The green Insiders cover was completed in a deep blur of confusion as my capacity waned, but the book inside was everything I wanted. Back off the meds, I told myself, it’s okay now—you’ve got two books out.

Then my doctor said some very frustrating things to me. That guy. He said I should plan to never get better. That I should expect complete failure of the meds that let me think and stand and occasionally go to the grocery store. At first, I was upset, but then I decided that none of it was true. I’ve got Long COVID. It’s a novel disease. There are no treatments, they don’t fully understand the mechanisms behind it, and, therefore, they don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I have so many doctors, and only one of them made this statement.


I hired the artist that I wanted to do the Wish Givers cover. I found and hired an artist for the Insiders cover. It would be a few months. Was that okay? Would I make it? Hell, yes. (I paid early, though, just in case.) Grave Cold needed serious revisions. Also, it has a death theme, and I had lots of new thoughts on the matter. I dove into all of it. And I’m holding steady. WAY steady. I published Grave Cold in May. The artwork for Insiders was JUST completed (OMG, it’s amazing!), and the art for Wish Givers will be finished at the end of June. Then I’ll re-release those books properly.

So why did I decide to self-publish? COVID-19 is why. Do I question that choice? No, I do not. Do I have self doubt? I doubt plenty of things in this world, but I do not question sending my stories out so that people can read them. Do you know what comforts a person who is lonely? What distracts a person from pain? What brings someone hope? What allows a person to consider the many emotions and relationships in this world when everything has fallen down around them? Stories do that. Stories are a light in the darkness. Let me turn on the light.

About the author


Shannon Knight lives in the Pacific Northwest with her most excellent cat. Their adventurous lives include coffee, reading, ribbon games, and K-dramas.

You can find her on Twitter / Website.