Name Eva Pohler
Where are you from
I recently retired from a twenty-year position teaching writing and literature at a university in San Antonio, where I live with my husband and three kids. Now a full-time writer, I’m the author of The Mystery Book Collection and three series for young adults: The Gatekeeper’s Saga, The Purgatorium Series, and The Vampires of Athens. I’m grateful that my books have been described as “thrilling” and “addictive.” A Kirkus reviewer said of The Gatekeeper’s Sons that it was “sure to thrill Hunger Games fans.”
A reader myself, I write in multiple genres, but all of my stories blur the line between reality and fantasy, truth and delusion, and draw from my personal philosophy that a reader must be lured and abducted into complete captivity in order to enjoy the reading experience.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My next paranormal mystery: Mystery House 2: Tulsa, is available for preorder and will release on January 15th. I’m so excited for others to read this project. The Mystery House series is a cozy mystery with three middle-aged women who feel called to restore haunted places and heal the ghosts that haunt them. In each book, I tackle an interesting historical subject.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
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.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I didn’t consider myself a writer until my novels started selling regularly. My thought back then was that anyone could publish a book, but only a writer could draw in readers. Now I realize I was a writer long before that happened.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
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.
It’s hard for me to pinpoint which of my novels was the first, because I was writing many different manuscripts at the same time, each inspired by something different.
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.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I consider myself a pantser with a splash of plotter. I usually create a general outline of the main events in my story and then fill in the gaps as I go along.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I try to find a noun that encapsulates the story and go from there.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really. I write to entertain, not to preach.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Very little of what I write has actually happened, but I do base characters on exaggerated versions of people I know, and I research history and mythology for inspiration for my plots.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The novelist John Fowles was a very early influence on me. Later, Ann Patchett, Tracey Chevalier, and Barbara Kingsolver became my idols.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Right now I’m really enjoying both Sarah J Maas and Janet Evanovich, the first for her intricate world-building and the second for her easy writing style.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fellow attendees of a writers’ convention called Utopiacon provided me with my best support early in my career.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s now my full-time job.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not on your life. I absolutely love it, just the way it is.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It originated from reading, I loved reading the stories of others so much that I wanted to create my own.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
(No one has seen this yet. It’s from the third chapter of The Mystery House 2: Tulsa. The chapter is entitled “The Hanging Tree”:
After the tour, Ellen climbed behind the wheel of the rental car and said, “Why don’t we drive by that tree? I’m kind of curious about it.”
“You want to?” Tanya asked Sue.
Sue was getting settled in the back seat behind Ellen. “Sure, why not? This has been a fun adventure, hasn’t it? Even if I won’t be able to walk tomorrow, I really enjoyed tonight. Thank you, Ellen.”
“Yeah, thanks, Ellen,” Tanya chimed in. “I loved learning all the history.”
“Me, too.” As Ellen pulled away from The Tavern, she didn’t mention how surprised she’d been by the incident in the ladies’ room or by the suffocating feeling she’d experienced each time she walked by the Brady Theater. A year ago, Ellen never would have believed that one day she’d be interested in ghosts and the paranormal, but it had become the most fascinating subject to her, probably due to the immense joy and satisfaction she’d felt after bringing closure to the Gold House.
Although most of the activity they’d experienced in the Greek revival hadn’t been caused by an actual ghost, Ellen had felt a profound sense of peace and closure when she and her friends helped solve the mystery of the lost gold. Marcia Gold could finally rest. It had been an amazing feeling.
She wanted more of that feeling, almost as badly as an addict wants his next hit.
Tanya turned to Ellen. “What do you think about what Carrie said? About you having the gift?”
Ellen laughed. “I don’t know. I’ve only recently begun to…sense things. And I still wonder if it’s all in my head.”
“It’s because you’re just now opening yourself up,” Sue said. “The more you practice, the stronger your gift will become. Take it from me.”
“What about you, Tanya?” Ellen asked as she turned onto Archer Street. “Do you sense things?”
“Well, I wasn’t going to say anything,” Tanya began. “But both times we passed that old theater, I felt something heavy in my chest.”
“Me, too!” Sue said.
Ellen couldn’t believe it. “Are y’all serious? I couldn’t breathe. Why didn’t either of you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you?” Sue challenged.
“That is so bizarre,” Tanya said.
“Now I’m going to have to Google that theater,” Sue said, as they pulled up before the enormous old Burr Oak standing majestically in the light of the half moon. It stood behind a tall fence at what looked like an industrial warehouse. The tree wasn’t accessible from the road.
Ellen shuddered at the sight of it. The thought of the hanging victims made her feel nauseous. “Why do people do such cruel things to one another? Can you imagine dying like that, hanging from a tree?”
“Maybe they deserved it,” Sue said. “Maybe it was the best way to maintain order.”
“I don’t believe in capital punishment,” Tanya said. “Everyone deserves a chance at redemption and forgiveness.”
“I agree,” Ellen said. “With maybe very few exceptions.”
“If you believe in exceptions, then you are for capital punishment,” Sue said to Ellen.
“Ellen always takes the middle ground,” Tanya pointed out.
“Things aren’t usually black or white.” Ellen turned off the engine and opened her car door. “I want to go look at the tree up close.”
Although they were in the first few days of autumn, the evening was still hot and muggy as Ellen and her friends walked across the gravel toward the fence.
“Let’s see if we can get a little closer,” Ellen said, following the length of fence.
“Haven’t we done enough walking?” Sue called from behind.
“Come on, Sue,” Ellen said, beckoning to her friends. “There’s an alley access back here.
“Great, an alley,” Tanya said. “At night, in a strange area we know nothing about.”
“I think we passed a Braum’s Ice Cream Parlor on the way over,” Sue said. “Anyone up for an evening snack?”
Ellen slipped past another fence and managed to get a little closer.
“Look at it,” Ellen whispered, mesmerized by the tree.
“It’s giving me the creeps,” Tanya said. “I vote for the ice cream.”
“Fine,” Ellen said, “but I want to run an idea by you both first.”
“Why can’t you run this idea by us at Braum’s?” Sue wanted to know.
Ellen reached out a hand and touched the thick trunk of the old tree. “Because I don’t want to be overheard.”
Tanya and Sue exchanged glances before turning their perplexed looks on Ellen.
“What’s going on, Ellen?” Tanya asked.
Ellen tried to think how to word the overwhelming and profound feelings churning inside of her. Tears formed in her eyes as she searched for the right words. She took a deep breath.
“Ellen?” Sue asked. “Your face looks pale. Are you alright?”
“It’s just that…” Ellen searched for the words, “what we did with the Gold House was so incredible, you know?”
Her two friends nodded, still waiting for Ellen’s explanation.
Ellen continued, “And lately I’ve been feeling, I don’t know, blah again.”
“You mean depressed?” Tanya asked. “I thought you were taking medication for that.”
“I am, but it’s not exactly depression,” Ellen said. “It’s like I feel a calling, and I’ve been ignoring it. And ignoring it has been making me feel kind of sick inside.”
Tanya covered her cheeks with both hands. “I’ve actually been feeling the same way, Ellen! This really is bizarre! I’ve been sad and lonely since my mother died, but there’s something else, too. It’s not quite depression, but a sort of let down that began after we finished the Gold House.” Tears flooded Tanya’s eyes. “To tell you the truth, I’m dreading going back to San Antonio.”
“Well, aren’t you girls a mess,” Sue said, making them both laugh.
“Very funny,” Tanya said.
“Y’all are definitely going to laugh at what I say next,” Ellen warned. Her two friends fixed their eyes on her again. “I want to study the paranormal.”
“Oh my gawd!” Sue practically shouted. “I can’t believe it!”
“But I’m not going to assume that every little unexplainable thing is a ghost,” she said. “I’m still a skeptic at heart.”
“Are you serious? You really want to study this?” Tanya asked.
Ellen nodded. “I think that’s what’s calling me. After bringing peace to Marcia Gold and her family, I guess I realize there’s more work to do.”
“Like what?” Tanya asked, batting an insect away.
“I think I want to find other haunted houses and help their ghosts find peace,” Ellen said.
As Ellen waited for her friends to reply, she heard something in the tree above them. After a beat, she thought it sounded exactly like the strain of a rope pulling against the lowest branch.
“Oh my gawd!” Sue whispered.
“Let’s get out of here!” Tanya cried.
The three friends scrambled down the alley and around the corner to their rental car.
Once inside, Ellen glanced back at the tree as she turned the ignition. “So y’all heard that too?”
“Like a rope twisting?” Tanya asked.
“Yep,” Sue said.
And even Sue, who always had more to say, said nothing else as they peeled away, wondering if what they’d heard had been real.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It sometimes flows effortlessly and, at other times, is nothing but challenging!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do have to travel for The Mystery House series, because each one will take place in a specific city and draw from something historical about the location. Since I live in San Antonio, I didn’t have to travel for the first, but I made two trips to Tulsa for the second. The next book will take me to New Orleans. After that, I plan to go to Manitou Springs, Colorado.
My fantasy novels don’t require travel, even though my characters go all over the world. I use Google Earth to study the regions and other internet images and blogs to get a good feel for a location.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The Gatekeeper’s Saga covers were recently redesigned by Ben Alderson, also known as Benjaminoftomes at Crisp Quartz Design. He created the covers for the prequel, for Hypnos, and for The Vampires of Athens series as well.
The covers for The Mystery Book Collection, including The Mystery House series, were created by Melinda VanLone of Book Cover Corner.
The Purgatorium covers were designed by an artist from Poland who works with a company called Replika. His first name is Nikolai.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
This is tough to answer because each book presents its own set of challenges. I suppose the hardest part about writing my most recent release was the timing. I had a kitchen remodel and the holidays all happening at the same tie I needed to write!
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that the imagination is a wonderful thing. It can heal so many evils of the world.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Maybe for The Mystery House series, but I’m too old for the others, lol!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Take your writing seriously. Take yourself seriously. It’s a serious business. But, above all, have fun J
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love my readers. I can’t tell you how many emails, messages, and comments I receive each day from fans who love my work, and they bring me so much joy and happiness.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Janet Evanovich’s first Stephanie Plum novel.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was probably a Dr. Seuss book.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Nearly everything! Must be those darn hormones!
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to meet Oprah, or Ellen, because they do so much good for the world through their platforms. Better yet, I’d like to meet Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Well, I plan to donate my body to science and probably won’t have a headstone, but, if I did, it would say Happy wife and mother, because that’s what I am.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My favorite TV shows are The Flash, The Walking Dead, and Fixer Upper. I enjoy all kinds of films, especially The Harry Potter, Star Trek, and Star Wars franchises.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Avocadoes, pecans, and sugar cookies are my favorite foods. Green and yellow are my favorite colors. I love almost all music, especially pop folk.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I was a teacher first. I’d probably still be at the university, teaching.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Here’s a link to all my books: http://www.evapohler.com/books
Here’s a link to my Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Eva-Pohler/e/B009D0TAZ4