Rosalyn Eves, the award-winning author of six YA fiction novels, visited the BYU-Idaho campus on June 12 to read and sign her books and to answer questions.

In 2021, Eves won the Whitney Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy, along with other rewards. She writes YA fantasy and historical fiction and teaches at Southern Utah University.

She read from and discussed “Beyond the Mapped Stars,” a historical fiction about a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1878, living in Utah with a passion for astronomy.

“This is not my most recent book, but I picked this one because it’s probably the one that I’m most proud of, for a couple reasons,” Eves said. “It’s probably the most personal book that I have written. (It) grappled with a lot of themes that I have grappled with. It also was the hardest one to write.”

Rosalyn Eves describing her journey in writing this story.

Rosalyn Eves describing her journey in writing this story. Photo credit: Elysia Olson

She told a story of how her editor accepted the book, then came back and said that while she liked the character and the setting, she felt it was more character-driven at its core.

The editor then asked Eves to cut the villain and the inciting incident to see what happened. At this, the room full of student writers chuckled.

“Yeah,” Eves said. “Those of you who have written know. What happens when you get rid of the villain and the inciting incident? You no longer have a plot … And she was right. This was actually a character-driven story that I had written as an adventure novel.”

Eves explained the historical context of her story and the struggle of women in science.

In 1878, an eclipse passed by that scientists called “The Great American Eclipse.” Scientists like Thomas Edison and Mariah Mitchell came to see it. Since they couldn’t take photos, many people desperately tried to sketch as much of it as they could before it faded.

Rosalyn Eves talking about Mariah Mitchell, another influence in her book.

Rosalyn Eves talking about Mariah Mitchell, another influence in her book. Photo credit: Elysia Olson

In order to choose which rural Utah community she wanted to base her story in, Eves went to her ancestry. She found a woman in her lineage named Elizabeth Bertelsen, on whom she based the main character.

“She unfortunately passed away when she was about 24. So I like to think that she gets some vicarious adventures in this book that I made up about her,” Eves said.

During the Q&A portion of the event, she described her own writing process, publication, fiction genres and even artificial intelligence.

An article came out from The Atlantic several years ago showing all of the books that were used to train Facebook’s Meta AI. Two of her books were included on the list.

“I think AI is here,” Eves said when asked how it affected her. “I think it’s not going anywhere … But I do think that if we’re going to use it, we need to be responsible and ethical users, and part of that is being mindful of where the data comes from.”

Eves told stories of how publishers and authors she knows have taken backlash for publishing books with AI-generated covers that they ultimately had to change, but she retained a generally positive and logical outlook on the benefits and difficulties of AI for writers and artists.

Rosalyn Eves reading from an LDS women's journal from the 1870's.

Rosalyn Eves reading from an LDS women's journal from the 1870's. Photo credit: Elysia Olson

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to say, ‘You know what? This book taught me a lot, and it’s not working, and I’m going to take everything I learned and apply it to something,'” Eves said. I don’t think any of the writing you do is wasted, even if it doesn’t end up published somewhere … I think you learn something from everything you write.”

More information on Eves and her books can be found on her website.