IYA Graduate Student Captures Coming-of-Age in Her New Book, "What I Gave You"

November 4, 2021 | Sam de Leve

Locked down for over a year on the tiny island of Macau, Madison Kelly found her escape by writing stories. Though her plate was already full as a full-time technical supervisor and a graduate student pursuing her Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business, and Technology, inspiration struck like never before, and she spent every spare moment in creative frenzy. The result was her upcoming collection of poetry, "What I Gave You."

"During the pandemic, I got to a point where I was tired of writing about myself and my situation and I just wanted to tell stories," Kelly says. 

Kelly envisioned "What I Gave You" as poetry "for people who think they don't like poetry," as she puts it, and she sought to make it, not just beautiful, but narratively engaging. Structured into three parts, each delves into a stage of coming of age, from leaving home, to experiencing turbulent first love, to deciding upon one's direction in life. The story woven by the poems follows a young woman's journey through these stages -- and imparts some of Kelly's own experience.

A young woman sits on a white towel on top of rocks by the ocean, holding a book while looking away from camera out toward the horizon
Woman smiling while holding book

"In my own life, I’m at Part 3," says Kelly in her author's preface. "I am confident in the steps that I am taking towards my future, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead."

"What I Gave You" isn't Kelly's first foray into book publication. Shortly after graduating from college, she authored "Tomorrowland: The Future of Theme Parks." Interviewing experts in the field, Kelly extrapolated from their words to predict structures, global trends and technological innovations in the theme park space. When published in 2018, the book reached bestseller status in its category and established Kelly as a theme park expert in her own right. Kelly credits the book with helping her land her current position as a project manager for an attraction in Macau.

Two identical books rest on a coffee table with a mug and a houseplant. The author is Madison Kelly and the Title is "Tomorrowland: The Future of Theme Parks"
A heart-shaped cake with cherries. Frosted on it are the words "What I Gave You"

"My favorite thing about the book that I wrote back then were these moments of fiction, these stories that I tell about what the world could look like," Kelly says of the speculative future she extrapolated from trends she observed in the theme park space.

Though her writing process had changed, Kelly’s experience publishing Tomorrowland gave her familiarity with the industry, and enough confidence to share her inspiration — with the hope of inspiring others.

"It's important for any artist or any creative or any creator to share their creations," she says. "If you don't share it with everybody else, you might be robbing somebody the opportunity to get inspired by something that you've done."

Excerpts and updates on Kelly's book, "What I Gave You," are available on her website. Pre-sale will be available through Kelly’s website starting mid-November, with an anticipated launch the week of December 20th.

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