By Dawn M. Aerts
Iron County Today
Growing up in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Utah, Rosalyn Eves liked to read books, and to write stories and poems. In those years, she spent much of her time outdoors, drawing, or writing scripts that turned into plays. “As the oldest, I was known ‘to make up the rules’ and then boss my siblings into performing little plays for our parents or for the neighbors.”
Today, Eves writes young adult fantasy books where readers are invited into a fictional world that grapples with historic-revolutions, magical spells and class distinctions as well as with a quest to find peace, equality and justice. “I get feedback from young people who thank me for helping them find their own journey, to imagining themselves through these characters.”
According to Eves, her early talent in writing was not overlooked.
“I think it goes back to a fifth-grade teacher who said, ‘Rosalyn, (I think) you’re a good writer,’ which at that time, never really occurred to me,” said Eves of her interest. “So how would a child know that they’re a good writer, or that young people can do that? But she was very generous with her words.”
In high school Eves recalls authoring a small book and her father asking a Bishop in their LDS ward to read it and to offer his thoughts about the project. “It was clear that my father really believed in my talents as a writer. And fortunately, the Bishop was kind and patient enough to read it and to say that ‘yes’ with a critique, I had some potential as a writer.”
After earning an English degree at Brigham Young University in 2001, Eves pursued Literature to graduate with a PhD at Penn State University in 2008, before moving to Cedar City with her husband and children to work as an adjunct professor of English, at Southern Utah University in 2010.
Last month, the author celebrated the publication of her book, Lost Crow Conspiracy, with an open house and book signing at Main Street Books in Cedar City. This is the second work in a trilogy of 19th century, historic-fantasy that began with Blood Rose Rebellion, published by Knopf/Random House last year and a story that will conclude with a third volume next year.
Eves has become notable for her powerful characters, the Red Queen, the King of Crows and the young heroine, 16-year-old, Anna Arden.
Her writing carefully interweaves magical tales about young nobles, revolutionaries, and fictional people like the ‘Romani’ who move against a backdrop of 19th century historical fantasy themes of war and peace, a monarchy of magic and spells. “Lost Crow Conspiracy is a darker, but action-packed sequel in the story of Anna Arden,” said Eves of the book, “And only one girl has the ability to ‘break a spell’ that holds a social order in place.”
According to Eves, her decision to become a writer happened without much planning. “I was actually in the middle of raising my family, and I woke up one morning, and said ‘yes’ it was time to pursue a writing career.” She began to attend conferences for writers, and to join a local writer’s group whom she says prompted her to learn more, and to steadily work towards publishing a book.
What she found was a creative synergy among writers.
“Feedback is critical to the process, because no matter how perfect you think it may be, writers will catch things. They’ll ask you about the details of your plot, and where you are going with a character,” said Eves of the up and down world of publishing. “It’s important to have that kind of support next to you. As a writer you will need cheerleaders.”
As a reader, Eves was drawn to the Emily Trilogy Series — Anne of Green Gables was one of her favorites along with Robin McKinley’s 1985 Newbery Medal winner, Hero and the Crown. “This was the story of a young girl (Aerin) who is feared and ostracized among her people because of the red hair that set her apart,” said Eves, “So this particular character, (one who didn’t fit in) really galvanized my imagination.”
While Eves focuses much of her time on practical research to support the historical backdrops of time and place, she enjoys developing characters and the colorful scenes that captivate readers. “So, I ask myself, how would people look and act differently in that world? I like telling those stories, finding the pieces to a very complicated puzzle and getting them to fit together.”
According to Eves, young-adult fantasy books can provide young people with better insights, and direction in an ever-changing world. “The character (Anna) tries very hard to fit in, and to find out who she is,” said Eves of the trilogy. “We know that young people have these feelings. They want to find ways they can fit into their world and discover who they can become.”
In Lost Crow Conspiracy, Eves sifts through what it means to be human or not. She explores the fantasy of a different society, with different norms, values and intentions. “Can you draw the line or always see the distinctions?” said Eves of the story, “How would magic change the world, those who have power and those who don’t?”
In this book the differences are not always clear or simple, but it’s about finding ‘place’ by accepting oneself, at the intersection of folklore and everyday life.
Caption: Cedar City writer Rosalyn Eves, author of Blood Rose Rebellion, and most recently, Lost Crow Conspiracy, is best known for writing young-adult historical-fantasy books with dazzling tales of nobles, magic, monarchies, wars and rebellions that ask young people to explore history and fantasy. She is currently working on the third volume of the trilogy.