English Reading Series: Professor Rosalyn Eves

Professor Rosalyn Eves of Southern Utah University returned to BYU not as a student, but as an honored lecturer for the BYU English Reading Series.

Doctor Rosalyn Eves received her bachelor’s degree from BYU and her PhD in English from Penn State University. Upon completing her doctoral program, she found herself back in Utah, teaching at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. As part of the BYU English Reading Series, Eves returned to her alma mater to participate as a guest lecturer. Eves held the audience’s attention fast, many of them students assigned to read the first chapter in Eves’ debut book Blood Rose Rebellion—which is the first book in her series of young adult, historical fiction novels. While many anticipated hearing more about her debut novel, Professor Eves had a different idea in mind for her lecture. Instead, she decided to read excerpts from one of her “work in progress” books and a non-fiction essay she recently wrote.

Doctor Eves’ initial, untitled reading explored some of her classic young adult themes: magic, Mormonism, and childhood. She also commented on the connection she feels with the characters she portrays in her novels. “I tend to write about strong, smart, female characters because that’s what I identify with,” said Eves. When a student later asked about her greatest struggles in writing historical fiction, she responded, “Sometimes its just hard to find answers to questions like ‘what does an 1870’s train bathroom look like?’” While finding answers to historically-based questions may have initially proved a challenge to Eves, the final installment of her highly anticipated trilogy comes out in March of 2019.

During the closing Q&A portion of the lecture, Doctor Eves fielded a variety of questions from students and faculty alike regarding her writing habits, her favorite writers, and how she balances faith and literature. One professor asked a question that pertained to many hopeful BYU students aspiring to become professional writers upon graduation: “It has been said that you can either write in your faith, particularly as a Mormon, or you can write for a New York publisher. But your publisher accepted your work. How did you manage that?” Doctor Eves’ explained that not only did she have a great relationship with her editor, but she also felt that “there is a really interesting movement, especially in Young Adult [literature] right now, to celebrate different voices. It seems like this is a really good moment… because there is more openness to it right now. The trick is to write about faith while being authentic…not preachy.”

Zander Smith (Chemistry and English ’20)