Erin Williams is the author and illustrator of ten books, including What's Wrong? Personal Histories of Chronic Pain and Bad Medicine, Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame, How to Take Care and the Big Activity Book series (250k+ in print). Her writing and art have also been featured in publications including MoMA Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Believer. She has over a decade of experience in healthcare, specifically data analysis and scientific research. She teaches illustration at Parsons School of Design and creative writing at Hunter College in New York City.
WHAT'S WRONG? Personal Histories of Chronic Pain and Bad Medicine
“A humane and gripping work that illuminates how (and why) our treatments of chronic illness fail, and a devastating portrait of the ways our society fails to protect the bodies of its most vulnerable members."
- Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
WHAT’S WRONG? is author, illustrator, and scientific researcher Erin Williams’s graphic exploration of how the American health-care system fails us. Focusing on four raw and complex firsthand accounts, plus Williams’s own story, this book examines the consequences of living with interconnected illnesses and conditions like immunodeficiency, cancer, endometriosis, alcoholism, severe depression, and PTSD.
Western medicine, which intends to cure illness and minimize pain, often causes loss, abuse, and suffering for those Americans who don’t fit within the narrow definition of who the system was built to serve—cis, white, heterosexual men. The book explores the many ways in which those receiving medical care are often overlooked, unseen, and doubted by the very clinicians who are supposed to heal them. WHAT’S WRONG? is also a beautiful celebration of nontraditional modes of healing, of how we become whole not because of healthcare but despite it.
The Big Journal for Pregnant People
This hilarious, relatable, interactive journal is the perfect companion for those nine (or ten!?) months of excitement, milestones, hormone swings, and baby/fruit size comparisons.
Right this very moment, you’re growing a tiny life in your body, and with that life-growing comes a lot of feelings—some beautiful, some exhilarating, and some straight-up ridiculous. You have a lot on your mind, and with The Big Journal for Pregnant People you can record all the ups, downs, and in-betweens. With playful prompts, brilliant quotes, pregnancy facts, straight-talking advice, and plenty of space to draw, The Big Journal for Pregnant People is a must-have for anyone who wants to take some time for themselves before that precious arrival changes, well, everything.
Most baby books are about the baby. This one is for you. Now go grab a pencil; you’ve got memories to make.
How To Take Care: An A-Z Guide Of Radical Remedies
How to Take Care is simple but radical guidebook for anyone learning to care for themselves and others, with vibrant color illustrations.
Healing is not just for people who have their s&*t together. Healing is, most important, for people who are falling apart. How to Take Care will help you learn to trust your instincts, listen to your body, and practice small, easy steps to soothe anxiety, burnout, and symptoms of PTSD.
From A (adaptogenic herbs, ancestral healing) to Z (zoetic), How to Take Care is for anyone striving to live slowly, with self-compassion, one moment at a time. Learn tangible steps to dispel shame, tell the truth, and loosen the grip on whatever is holding you back. Sample guided meditations, cook nurturing recipes, and follow handy how-tos. Practice the grounding of a clean sink when you’d rather burn the house down, or connect with nature by growing flowers from seed. Keep this guide on your nightstand or in your backpack for easy-reference tools, techniques, and strategies to calm your nervous system and come back to your body. It is a gift for yourself or anyone else who is going through a big, messy, or trying season of life.
The Big Journal For Anxious People
Journal your way to inner peace—or at least to feeling a little less alone in your stress, anxiety, and 3:00 a.m. doomscrolling—with this hilarious, relatable, interactive journal.
The human body is 80 percent water, so we are basically cucumbers with anxiety (#themoreyouknow). Next time you feel a freak-out emerging, set your phone to the side—or, even better, turn it off—and reach for this journal instead. Jordan Reid and Erin Williams want you to remember that you’re in good company: Anxious people are some of the funniest and most interesting and creative humans on the planet. (They know, because they are two of them.) So if you’ve got 99 problems and 86 of them are completely made-up scenarios in your head, write them down and let them go. With hilarious prompts, brilliant quotes, mental health facts, straight-talking advice, and plenty of space to draw, The Big Journal for Anxious People is a must-have for anyone who needs a little less overthinking and a little more chill.
I Know What’s Best For You: Stories On Reproductive Freedom
Edited by Shelly Oria—author and editor of Indelible in the Hippocampus—this explosive, intersectional collection of essays, fiction, poems, plays, and more, explores the universality of human reproductive experiences, as well as their distinct individuality.
Erin's comic, Women Like Me, explores how white women have, historically and presently, hindered reproductive justice for Black women, through the lens of the birth of her daughter.
COMMUTE: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame
An intimate, clever, and ultimately gut-wrenching graphic memoir about the daily decision women must make between being sexualized or being invisible
In Commute, we follow author and illustrator Erin Williams on her daily commute to and from work, punctuated by recollections of sexual encounters as well as memories of her battle with alcoholism, addiction, and recovery. As she moves through the world navigating banal, familiar, and sometimes uncomfortable interactions with the familiar-faced strangers she sees daily, Williams weaves together a riveting collection of flashbacks. Her recollections highlight the indefinable moments when lines are crossed and a woman must ask herself if the only way to avoid being objectified is to simply cease to draw any attention to her physical being. She delves into the gray space that lives between consent and assault and tenderly explores the complexity of the shame, guilt, vulnerability, and responsibility attached to both.
The Everybody Gets Anxious Activity Book
This thoughtful and fun activity book for children is inspired by the hysterical and hugely popular Big Activity Book for Anxious People. Written for kids or basically anyone who sometimes feels overwhelmed, angry, scared, nervous, or just plain icky—which is everyone. Really!
In this awesome, non-anxiety-inducing book, you’ll learn about where anxious feelings come from (evolution) and strategies, activities, and suggestions for how to handle them. For example, go on a scavenger hunt for comforting things around your house, or color in the rainbow of emotions! These activities are designed to help children explore their feelings in a way that helps them to understand anxiety is workable and can be transformed into something positive.
The Big Activity Book for Divorced People
Divorce is the worst. It’s also really, really common. When marriage was invented, people did not typically live past age thirty, which made “till death do us part” more doable. Part journal, part coloring book, part hilarious and on-point advice on how to move on, The Big Activity Book for Divorced People is an outlet for anyone who wants to laugh through the pain. After all, change can be pretty great (see: evolution).
The Big Activity Book for Digital Detox
Deep down, you know it’s true: you could benefit from disconnecting from the internet and reconnecting with the world around you. Part journal, part coloring book, part advice on how to take a break, The Big Activity Book for Digital Detox will be an outlet for anyone who wants to laugh through the ridiculousness of the digital age and remember how to be a human–because it’s definitely not going to happen when you’re awake at 1:00 a.m. reading yet another listicle.
THE BIG ACTIVITY BOOK FOR ANXIOUS PEOPLE
These days, anxiety is simply part of the human experience. Part journal, part coloring book, part weird coping mechanisms, and part compendium of soothing facts, The Big Activity Book for Anxious People will be an outlet for anyone who wants to take a break from reality, laugh through her fears, and realize with every page that she is not alone--and to help her figure out what to do when it's 3AM and she's wide awake worrying about whether she cc'ed the right "Bob" on that email. (Probably.)
SELECT PRESS AND PRAISE
SELECT PRAISE FOR HOW TO TAKE CARE
“A healing book for the world weary and traumatized, the over-burdened & under-mothered. This elegantly illustrated and inspired collaboration has a cure on every page. Hilarious and brave, tender and wise. Buy this book for yourself, and anybody else who needs a dang break.”
– Mary Karr, New York Times bestselling author of The Liars’ Club, Cherry, Lit, and Art of Memoir
"Entering the world of this book—and it truly feels like a world, lushly illustrated, radiating tenderness and honesty—feels like sitting by a window and talking with a bighearted friend who also happens to be funny as f-ck, and eating hot fudge sundaes while a rainstorm rages outside. The sky is dark, and the flood might be coming, but the air is bristling with candor and compassion, just like these pages, which are full of hard-won insights attuned to the body, alive to the soul, and always aware of their entwinement. Something in this book will crack open a window in your life, I promise you—to let in the smell of the rain, the cold moonlight, the snow under streetlamps, the dawn."
– Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams
SELECT REVIEWS FOR COMMUTE
"Williams does not shy away from her shame. She is also angry, and she knows she is not alone, and that brilliant anger is where the book becomes truly great. Her confidence—and literal straight gaze at the reader, full of vulnerability and challenge—makes this volume a critique, a lament, and a sigh. As Williams elegantly argues, many women need all three. This sharp and splendidly drawn memoir will strike a strong chord in the current moment. "
“One day’s commute offers time for the author to reflect on sexual predators, alcoholism, and the experiences she understands better now than she did at the time…A catharsis for the author that fits perfectly within a pivotal period for society and culture at large.”
"...[Williams] adds an eloquent voice to the chorus of stories testifying to the daily experiences of women under patriarchy. Commute is a book that really should be read by everyone."
“Williams is as unapologetic in this book as she is vulnerable, which makes for a unique, timely, and powerful read.”
– The Beat
“[Commute] is welcoming, soul-baring, stunningly interconnected, and very discussable.”
"Commute is a formidable, defiant statement of vulnerability leading to strength."
"[An] extraordinary graphic novel..."
– Ms. Magazine
"Williams's feelings of invalidation will make any woman with the same unspoken anxieties feel validated. About men, about makeup, about motherhood and relationships of oppression and relationships that support and, overall, the importance of women supporting women... Sink slowly into the story, and you'll probably laugh, cry, and understand Erin, yourself, and woman’s experiences in general more than you could have expected from a book you could probably read in one commute."
– Porchlight Books
– Mercedes Lubbers-Payne for Spine Magazine
– Shaenon Garrity for Publishers Weekly
Recipient of the Miriam Weinberg Richter Memorial Award, 2023 (3rd Place)
New York Public Library named Commute the Book of the Day, April, 9, 2023
Winner of Ephemera's Good Contrivance Farm Residency, 2023
Commute was long-listed for the 2019 Believer Book Award for Nonfiction
Publishers Weekly named Commute a Book of the Week, October 7, 2019
Book Riot called Commute a New Nonfiction Book Releases You Should Add To Your Nightstand
Bookpage included Commute in a roundup of the Most anticipated nonfiction for Fall, 2019
Kristen Radtke included Commute in this beautiful article about comics and shame
Pen and Tell Her Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival
– Tahneer Oksman for Women's Review of Books
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Drawing Ourselves Whole
Creation is a force that can make sense of the parts of our life where we felt victimized or erased. In this workshop, we will create visual self-portraits as we are today: survivors, healers, helpers, humans among humans.
The Alano Club of Portland, Virtual Event
Adamson BJS, Cohen AB, Estevez M, Magee K, Williams E, Gross CP, Meropol NJ, Davidoff AJ. ACA and Medicaid Expansion Impact on Racial Disparity in Time to Cancer Treatment. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Jun 2019, 37(no. 18_suppl). DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2019.37.18_suppl.LBA1. [ASCO Plenary Session Presentation]
Adamson BJS, Cohen AB, Cheever MA, Hooley IJ, Williams E, Tymejczyk O, Peeples M, Hernandez M, Meropol NJ, Uldrick TS. Cancer Immunotherapy Use and Effectiveness in Real-World Patients Living with HIV. NCI International Conference on Malignancies in HIV/AIDS. 21 Oct 2019. Page 38, https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/oham/hiv-aids-research/oham-research/international-conference/icmaoi-2019.pdf
Hooley I, Cohen A, Gross G, Williams E, Adamson B. Medicaid Expansion and Racial Inequities in Next Generation Sequencing Testing in Oncology. Value in Health. May 2019, Volume 22, Supplement 2, Page S93.
Maignan K, Backenroth D, McQuarrie N, Lipitz N, Williams E, Carson K. Real-World Disparities in Daratumumab Utilization for Patients with Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma (MM). Blood 2018 132:4734; doi: https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2018-99-112153
Griffith SD, Miksad RA, Calkins G, You P, Lipitz NG, Bourla AB, Williams E, George DJ, Schrag D, Khozin S, Capra WB, Taylor MD, Abernethy AP. Characterizing the feasibility and performance of real-world tumor progression endpoints and their association with overall survival in a large advanced non-small cell lung cancer data set. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Aug 2019. doi: 10.1200/CCI.19.00013
For literary rights, illustration opportunities, and foreign rights, please contact Paul Lucas at Janklow and Nesbit.
For press inquiries, events, speaking and teaching opportunities, please contact Erin directly.
Email: erileywilliams at gmail dot com