Eva Seyler was born in Jacksonville, Florida. She left that humidity pit at the age of three and spent the next twenty-one years in California, Idaho, Kentucky, and Washington before ending up in Oregon, where she now lives on a homestead in the western foothills with her husband and five children, two of whom are human.
Eva cannot remember a time when she couldn’t read, and has spent her life devouring books. In her early childhood years, she read and re-read The Boxcar Children, The Trumpet of the Swan, anything by Johanna Spyri or A A Milne, and any issues of National Geographic with illustrated articles about mummified, skeletonised, and otherwise no-longer-viable people.
As an adult she enjoys primarily historical fiction (adult or YA) and nonfiction on a wide range of topics—including, but not limited to, history, disaster, survival, dead people, and the reasons people become dead. Audiobooks are her jam, and the era of World War One is her historical pet.
When Eva is not writing, she is teaching her human children, eating chocolate, cooking or baking, wasting time on Twitter, and making weird shrieky noises every time she sees her non-human children.
1. Will you tell us about your most recent published work?
Thanks so much for having me!
My debut novel, The War in Our Hearts, releases on this coming Sunday, the 24th of March! I’ve been fascinated by World War One for a couple of years now and been bummed by the fact that although there’s a glut of great stuff about WWII, WWI has nowhere near the selection of novels to choose from. So I decided to try to remedy that by writing the book I wanted to read!
Here’s the back cover copy:
France, 1916: Estelle Graham faces a nightmare. Expecting to meet her beloved husband and bring their newly adopted daughter home to Scotland, she instead finds him gravely injured and unconscious in a casualty station. As she fights for his care, she takes solace in his journals and letters.
In a farmhouse in Somme, Captain Jamie Graham is forever changed when he meets young Aveline Perrault. Both of them broken and walled off from the cruel and cold world around them—made even crueler and colder by the Great War—the pair form an unlikely bond. She finds in him the father she never had, and with her love, he faces the pain from his own childhood.
Discover the depth of love and faith in the face of brutality and neglect as they learn to live while surviving World War I.
2. What personal challenges do you face as a writer?
My verbal communication skills are a bit of a handicap. I can write like crazy, but ask me to talk about my work with unscripted spoken words, and I become about as eloquent as Foley on Remember WENN.
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Sometimes I get overwhelmed right as I’m almost done, when there’s just one more major thread I have to weave in to make the arc solid, and I sort of shut down for a bit trying to avoid it. I’m dealing with this right now with one of my WIPs—there’s just something not quite RIGHT about it yet, and trying to lay a finger on what it is is making me want to tear out my hair.
4. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Oh man, I don’t know. I like all the things! It would have to be something I’m not super attached to. Maybe my teacup collection.
5. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It definitely has given me more of an idea of what’s expected with grammar and punctuation standards. I know now what kinds of quirks I’ll be expected to change, so I can turn it in with those changes already made to save everyone’s time.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Will you tell us about them?
I have four books in varying stages of completion, three of which have working titles using the word THING, because I hate titles argh.
-Thread of Scarlet is a slightly fictionalised memoir about a drastic family move across the country that completely changed the entire trajectory of my life. I keep setting it aside as low priority, but I will finish it one of these days.
-The Belgian Refugee Thing is another WWI-era book about (surprise) Belgian refugees, which I am a bit stalled on until I can do more research.
-The Patagonian Thing is my favourite of my unfinished books. It’s set in post-WWII Argentina, about a butterfly-obsessed policeman who goes to Lago Viedma in Patagonia with his eight-year-old son, only to have his orderly Explore disrupted by the intrusion of a mentally unstable, runaway mistress of an escaped Nazi war criminal. It’s very close to being done, but I’ve set it aside temporarily to finish———
-The Prohibition Kids Thing, which is a middle-grade novel set in 1925 Oregon that I’m supposed to turn in by May. So it’s my focus for the moment. I’m about halfway through writing it. It’s about two ten-year-olds, George and Louise, who do things together like hop freight trains to Salem to get away from their weird parents, and perhaps even some bootlegging intrigue for good measure. I’m really excited about it. It’s totally different from writing for adults, but a fun change of pace.
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
So far I’ve only had glowing reviews, but I’m also oddly unconcerned with the prospect of bad ones. I left so many embarrassingly narrow-minded one-star reviews as an Opinionated Young Person myself that I’m not going to let myself be bothered by a few nay-sayers as an adult.
8. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
If I told, it wouldn’t be a secret, would it? ;-)
There is at least one sort of subtle thing I can think of in TWIOH, with enough hints to figure it out if you are paying attention. I did that on purpose, leaving a wide open window for the observant readers to take off running with fanfiction. There might be two subtle things, but I can’t think what the other one is at the moment.
I do have a habit of connecting all my stories, though. All three of my current fiction WIPs (from question 6) have a connection of some sort to TWIOH, but none of the books will be dependent on any of the others, nor are they really even related. I hope my readers will have fun looking for the more obscure connections!
9. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m very shy about befriending Famous Successful People(™), so mostly I just follow them on Twitter and admire them from afar, but it is fun to interact with them about their books, if that’s their jam. Hilary McKay, Gwen C Katz, and Elizabeth Wein are all wonderful people to chat with in the Twitterverse, and not just about books! Although I love all their books too.
I can guarantee you, however, that were I to spot them in the wild somewhere, I would do the human equivalent of the cartoon trick where you become 2D and ooze away along a wall or something to avoid detection.
10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Dear 1990s Eva,
It’s okay to write stories where Dad isn’t a raving abusive lunatic.
Love, 2010s Eva (who definitely did not resort to her own raving abusive lunatic dad trope in The War in Our Hearts, nope, not her. Nope. *shifty eyes*)
P.S. oh by the way someday you’ll be published!!!
11. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Taking up the first offer they get, probably. It’s not always bad to do that! Just make sure you research the agent/publishing house (in my case it’s a small press and I have no agent), and get someone, or multiple someones, to look over any contracts before you sign.
And never underestimate the value of beta readers/critique partners, either. One of my beta readers gave me some feedback that really made The War in Our Hearts go from good to great. I believe I’m a good writer, but critiques and discussion with betas help SO MUCH with stuff you simply can't see because you're so immersed. Having already gone through that process gave me a manuscript that required no major changes when it went through my publishing editor.
(By the way, if you're looking for a critique partner/beta reader, follow @Megan_Lally on Twitter. She hosts match-ups every few months, and I found some great betas through that!)
12. What's the best way to market your books?
Find friends whose enthusiasm and verbal communications skills exceed your own and get them excited so they will talk to people about your book for you.
Or plaster buy links and constant allusions to the fact that you wrote a book all over social media. Subtlety will get you nowhere, right?
I have applied both techniques in my (admittedly limited) experience, and time will tell how well they work.
13. What is your favorite childhood book?
I had a whole sequence of books I obsessed over over the years, but one of the earliest ones I remember was The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White, when I was about 8 or 9. As an adult, I think I understand why that one spoke to me so much. I had selective mutism, which meant I found it physically impossible to speak to most people, and had to express myself via other means besides speech. I started writing/making up stories probably about the same time, and aside from a complete break from writing from 2009-2016 (it's a long story), I've never stopped writing/making up stories since.
Social media links: