Interview with Eva Pohler
Tell me a little about yourself and your background. What were you like at school? Were you good at English?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas--though I did live for two years in the Philippines when I was four and five years old. As a student, I was what is called an "egg head," because I loved learning and made good grades. English was my favorite subject. I think I spent much of my life reading. My little sister used to beg me to go outside and play kickball or baseball (because they needed another player to even up the teams), and I would sometimes go reluctantly, and, more often, not at all. I am thrilled that now my books are enthralling readers in the same way I used be be enthralled by books as a child. When an uncle gave me his college literature anthology, I read it from cover to cover multiple times.
What was your life like before becoming an author?
For years, I was a den leader and cub scout master for my sons and a girl scout troop leader for my daughter. Once my children became more independent, I turned my attention to writing. For over twenty years, I have taught literature and writing at a local university. Recently my increased sales have made it possible for me to retire from teaching altogether, even though I enjoy it and will likely miss it. I won't miss grading all of those papers, though!
What made you decide to sit down and write your first novel?
I loved to read as a child, and by the time I was in the sixth grade, I started creating my own stories, purely for my own entertainment. In high school, I wrote a fable for an assignment in English, and mine was chosen to be read out loud to the class. One of the students in the class asked if he could publish it in his Dungeons and Dragons newsletter. I was thrilled.
In college, I took every creative writing class that was offered. My school didn't have a creative writing major, so I majored in English. My goal was to teach college English and write on the side. I wrote as often as I could.
So the ambition to write stories that would be read and enjoyed by others grew from my childhood.
Did you ever want to be anything other than an author? If so, what? What made you decide to be an author?
I started college hoping to be like Anton Chekhov—both a writer and a doctor—but my struggle with organic chemistry changed that plan. Instead, I earned a Ph.D. in English, so I suppose I did become a writer and a doctor of another kind. Becoming an author wasn’t so much a decision as it was a compulsion. For me, writing started as an avoidance mechanism that eventually grew into a full-fledged obsession.
How did you feel once you learned that your first novel would be published? Do you get the same feeling with each consecutive novel?
I was both excited and terrified. I was excited to be finally sharing my work with a wide audience, but I was also terrified that readers wouldn't like it. And yes, each time, those feelings of excitement and terror are there, but with each book, I've become more and more confident that people--not all people, but MY people, MY audience--will love it.
What sparked the idea for your books?
The idea for The Gatekeeper's Saga was inspired by a movie starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins called Meet Joe Black. Death wants a chance to see what life is like. I felt like the movie left too many unanswered questions, and it made me want to answer them. Since I love Greek mythology, I chose to write about Thanatos, the god of death. This series also gave me the opportunity to defend Hades, the father of Thanatos, from the demonic way he is portrayed in Disney's animated film Hercules.
The idea for The Mystery Box came to me when a box was delivered to my house by mistake, and I began to wonder about the person it was intended for. The Mystery Tomb was inspired by my grandfather's efforts to discover his Native American heritage. The idea for The Purgatorium came from another novel called The Magus, by John Fowles. This book showed a character experiencing staged situations, and, as a reader, I wished for a more behind-the-scenes look at what was really going on. I actually left The Purgatorium on a back burner for years until a boy in my neighborhood committed suicide. That event made me want to get the book out, since it tries to show that no matter how mortified you feel over your mistakes, you can go on to find happiness.
The idea for The Vampire of Athens came from a dream. In the dream, a sexy vampire bit me, and though the single bite wasn't enough to transform me into a vampire, it did give me his vampire powers for one night. For that one night I had speed, flight, invisibility, x-ray vision, and mind-reading and mind-controlling powers. It was an amazing dream! When I woke up, I just knew I had to write about it.
How do you come up with your characters? Do you plan their personality out in advance or create it as you go?
I usually begin with a concept for the novel and develop the characters around it. For example, right now I am working on a mystery/suspense in which three empty-nesters decide to buy and flip a house together. As they rebuild and remodel the house, they uncover its dark and secret history. This history has to do with "invisible women," or women who suffered from depression and were locked up in this home for "treatment." Playing on this idea of "invisible women," I am giving the three empty-nesters personal conflicts in which they are also "invisible."
I spend some time getting to know a character before I write a story. I borrow parts--such as appearance, mannerisms, speech, and personality--from different people in my life to build this new person. I also use Tarot cards to learn what this character really wants, what's holding him or her back, and what hidden talents he or she might possess.
Then, as I write the story, other aspects of the character emerge to help shape a whole person.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Yes. I recommend that you write a series or a collection of similarly branded books and make the first one permafree. Use that permafree book as your "loss leader" to lure readers into your series. Invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter, and send out news to them once or twice a month, being as personable as possible so that they get to know you and your work. Your email list can become a powerful tool if used in the right way. Then just be sure to produce a book at least once a year--more often if possible. I try to release three a year. I have more resources for writers on my website at evapohler.com.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
First spend a few years exploring the craft of writing. Read books, attend seminars, and read a lot of books by bestselling authors in your genre. Once you have written a manuscript, see if you can find a few critique partners who are willing to exchange manuscripts with you, but take each person's advice with a grain of salt. Don't allow your voice to become watered down because you change your work to please too many different people. Once you have a complete manuscript that you've edited a million times, you can send it off to agents in your genre if you're interested in going the traditional publishing route.
If you would rather self-publish, then you will need to assemble your own team of professionals. Hire an editor, a formatter (unless you want to learn to format your manuscripts yourself--that's what I did, by reading The Smashwords Style Guide), and a cover artist. You can find free marketing resources at Smashwords to help with discoverability. You should also attend a writer's conference that focuses on the publishing industry to make connections and to learn the ropes.
What is your favorite book that you've read so far this year? Favorite book of all time?
I read at least two books a month, and sometimes more, so I have many to choose from this year alone. I was going to say I can narrow my favorite down to two: Stephenie Meyer’s The Host and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. But then I remembered I read Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, this year, and so that one’s the winner. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein was another!
My favorite book of all time. Hmm. Gosh. That would have to be either Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, or Remarkable Creatures, by Tracy Chevalier. In young adult, it would be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Readers can explore my website at http://www.evapohler.com. There, they will find information about me and about all of my books and links to every vendor, including international ones. They can also receive five free ebooks by subscribing to my newsletter and sign up to receive free text alerts when I have new releases and special sales.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.
Latest books by This Author
Summer House Mystery
by Eva Pohler
Why can't a house ever be just a house? Ellen and her friends visit a historic beachside house in Biloxi, where they become embroiled in a deadly mystery.
Vampires and Gods Omnibus
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After the murder of a friend, teen gods and demigods join forces to face a common threat: vampire pirates swarming the Mediterranean Sea. But unforeseen conflicts cause the young gods and demigods to question the nature of their mission, their purpose, and their relationships with one another.
by Eva Pohler
While searching for her lost daughter, Demeter disguises herself as a mortal and accepts the hospitality of a village family, which she rewards immensely until she tragically destroys them.
by Eva Pohler
He is banished from Mount Olympus through no fault of his own. After roaming the earth for decades in search of a purpose, he creates his own magical vineyard on the island of Naxos, where he falls in love with Ariadne. But their marriage is doomed from the start.
The Enchanted Bungalow
by Eva Pohler
Ellen and her friends never saw this coming. Can the three best friends uncover the mystery of the Machiavellian spirit sharing their bungalow?
A Holiday Haunting at the Biltmore
by Eva Pohler
Ellen should have known that a gathering in America's last castle would entail a few uninvited guests. During a Christmas eve wedding at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, Ellen and her friends are visited by multiple ghosts. The spirits have come to tell their stories, to right the wrongs that history has done to their memories. Voted "Best Mystery Book of the Year" for 2022.
Cupid's Captive Series
by Eva Pohler
When Psyche convinces Cupid to protect college softball pitcher Ellie Beaufort from the other gods, who want to kill her because of a prophecy, he agrees to hide her in his castle. But when his brothers, Phobos and Deimos, discover his secret, he has no choice but to shoot them with his arrows of love.
Guardians of the Sea: A Young Adult Urban Fantasy
by Eva Pohler
Unforeseen conflicts cause the young gods and demigods to question the nature of their mission, their purpose, and their relationships with one another. In the face of impossible choices, how important are love, loyalty, and friendship? Moreover, how far should one go to defend those who can't defend themselves? Should one sacrifice everything?
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The Shade of Santa Fe
by Eva Pohler
When Ellen decides to buy a fixer-upper in an art community in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she's not terribly surprised to discover that not all of its residents have vacated the premises. Can the reunion of Ghost Healers, Inc. untether the troubled spirits in Ellen's fixer-upper, or will their discoveries be too much for them this time?