Vail Valley Author Publishes Fifth Young Adult Novel, ‘Burying Eva Flores’
If everything you write came true, what would be the story you would write?
That’s the question Vail Valley author Jennifer Alsever explores in her latest (and fifth) young adult novel, “Bury Eva Flores.”
Alsever was inspired to delve into this question after certain aspects of her first trilogy of books began to come true, particularly a pandemic.
“I wrote (‘Burying Eva Flores’) after seeing how many things I wrote in 2016 for my trilogy – ‘The Trinity Forest’ series – came to fruition. It was kind of strange, because I had written things like Pandemic, not knowing it was coming out,” Alsever said. “It was still a very magical book, but there were still some weird things in it.”
Alsever describes this latest novel as a paranormal mystery about a war between two girls: Eva Flores, a TikTok star who moves to Paonia, and her classmate, Sophia, who isn’t interested in people or social media.
“This war comes to a head when Sophia gets a notebook and everything she writes down somehow changes her future. She finds a new power, and now the whole town thinks she killed Eva. It takes time to unravel the true story of the two girls. It’s a story of revenge, power and the stories we project into the world,” Alsever said.
While the question serves as the primary inspiration for the unfolding story, Alsever found inspiration all around her while writing the novel.
Alsever first entered the writing world as a journalist – writing for publications such as Fortune Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Wired and Fast Company. She still writes as a freelancer, but jumping into fiction has opened up a whole new world of writing. While her first four novels followed a more “traditional” format, “Burying Eva Flores”, moved away from it and drew more from her journalistic style of writing.
Inspired by a number of books – including “Daisy Jones and the Six” and “Good Girls Guide to Murder” – her fifth book combines a variety of styles to tell the story. This includes everything from documentary interviews and newspaper articles to text messages, viewpoints and prose.
“That’s what finally clicked and then the story really poured out of me during the 2020 lockdown,” she said.
Writing during the COVID-19 lockdown also allowed Alsever to really lean into the creative space it allowed him.
“It was so quiet and I was able to connect with my kids, I was able to ride my mountain bike every day, and I was able to devote myself to writing,” she said.
While the actual writing experience may have been different, the connection with her children — Jake, 21, and Brendan, 16 — has always influenced her writing. In fact, that’s what got her into writing young adult fiction in the first place.
“I was reading so much with my kids at the time and my oldest son was 14, so we started reading a lot of young adult books,” Alsever said of the time she wrote her first novel. “I loved how young adults (fiction) was this coming of age, where young people explore the world and identify who they are and who they want to be, and I loved that fiction could help them explore this world and think more critically about themselves, even unconsciously.
And today, much of the world in which young adults exist is made up of social media.
During her writing of “Burying Eva Flores,” Alsever said she was “looking at how social media is impacting young people today and how it’s producing young people and changing the way people view themselves.”
As such, she explored in the novel how adults exploit and manipulate young adults to “become micro-famous”. Her hope is that “through stories like this, teens can explore and learn about the world in a safe space – in a book.”
Not only relying solely on his sons’ experiences to shape his stories, Alsever also interviewed one of his friend’s daughters, a 19-year-old student at Eagle Valley High School who couldn’t care less about social media and what what people thought of her.
“She was kind of an anomaly in her generation and I really loved her point of view, and she also fixed her own car and learned how to do it at EVHS and I just thought that was super cool , and so I modeled the character of Sophia after her.” Alsever said. “I interview people and I constantly listen to what people have to say, the way they talk and the way they interact, taking small pieces of experiences around me and integrating them into my stories.”
The last source of inspiration came from the very place of the novel: Paonia. Alsever first visited the Colorado town for a yoga retreat, but was immediately drawn to it and kept coming back.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Paonia for the past couple of years and there was something about the town that really drew me to the setting of the stories,” she said. “I love small town stories and how small town life shapes people. I thought about what it would be like if a TikTok star moved in, and that’s what happens in my story.
Drawing from experiences of the world around her, Alsever found it difficult to choose what she likes best in the novel.
“I love that it’s kind of timely right now, with TikTok and social media. I really love the characters; they’re very real to me. And I loved the idea of, ‘If all this what you wrote came true? What is the story you would write?,” she said.
Alsever will host a book conference at the Bookworm in Edwards on July 7 at 6 p.m. to discuss his latest novel, “Buying Eva Flores.”
Journalist Ali Longwell can be reached at email@example.com.