Monday, April 15, 2019

Eva Pohler: Best-selling Young-Adult Novelist and Trinity Professor

By Jackson Beach

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Eva Pohler starts her day early.

She pops out of bed and rushes to Trinity to teach an 8:30 a.m. special topics course on innovation & entrepreneurship. After that, she has an hour-long window to sort through student essays and other graded materials before rushing off to teach a persuasive writing class. Following that class, she heads home and uses the rest of her day to either market her past novels or make progress on her next one.

Pohler, 52, is a native of San Antonio. In 1989, she graduated from Trinity University with a B.A. in English language and literature. She went on to receive a master’s degree in English from Saint Mary’s University and a doctorate in English from Texas Tech.

Beyond teaching, Pohler is more widely known as an author. To date, she’s written over 20 novels in a variety of genres including suspense and young-adult. Her boxed set “Sigils and Spells” is a USA Today best-seller.

Pohler knew she wanted to become a writer early on. “I think the moment might have been when I was in the eighth grade and an uncle of mine sent me his college textbook,” Pohler recalled. “It was an intro to literature anthology. I read it from cover to cover and I fell in love with the poems, plays, short stories and novels.”

“I knew that if I didn’t make it a career, it would always be a hobby,” Pohler added.

But Pohler’s passion for writing has led to a sustaining career. Beyond just paying the bills, writing allows Pohler to cope with the stresses of everyday life.

“I suffer from anxiety and I have a child who’s chronically ill, so I turn to creative writing to go on adventures and to escape my everyday problems,” Pohler said. “It’s also something that allows me to go to places that I might have never gone to before,” literally.

She has visited cities like Portland and New Orleans to research for her books. Her trip to an eerie residence in Portland inspired her “Mystery House” series. Interviewing Voodoo priestess in New Orleans helped build a similar character in her book “French Quarter Clues.”

For places she hasn’t had the chance to visit such as Athens, Greece, which serves as the setting for her Greek-mythology-inspired series “The Gatekeeper’s Saga,” Pohler relies on Google Earth’s street view to simulate shoe-leather information gathering.

In 2015, Pohler retired from teaching to pursue writing full time, but soon realized that it was hard to leave teaching behind completely. In fall 2018, she returned to Trinity as an adjunct English professor.

“I spent years thinking that I would eventually retire and write full time, and when I actually did that I missed the interaction that I had in the classroom,” Pohler said. “Teaching forces me to really know my stuff, but also the students come up with ideas that make me think about things in new ways.”

Not just her students, Pohler’s colleagues are also her source of inspiration. Victoria Aarons, who teaches courses on American Jewish and Holocaust literature, impressed Pohler as a student. “I remember thinking at the time that I wanted to be just like her. There was something about her style that I really appreciated,” Pohler said.

Pohler described Peter Balbert, who teaches courses in modern American literature, as “intimidating.” “I remember on one of the first essays I wrote for him he had written ‘you have talent as a literary critic,’” Pohler said. “And for someone so intimidating to give me that compliment, that was major.”

Taylor Rountree, a first-year student, had Pohler as a First-year Experience writing workshop professor last semester and is currently enrolled in her entrepreneurship course.

“I feel like I’ve gotten to see both sides of Dr. Pohler: the teacher side but also the person who has created her own stories,” Rountree said. “She’s very understanding and passionate about helping people.”

From Pohler, Rountree said she also learned that “you can make a business out of anything as long as you’re passionate about it and you find the right mentor to guide you.”

From her spark of inspiration in the eighth grade to her successful career at Trinity and beyond, Pohler has done just that. “I feel like I’ve created a great life for myself with teaching part-time and writing, and just doing the things I love,” Pohler said.

After her long day of teaching, writing and marketing — with just enough time to go to the grocery store and cook supper — Pohler likes to unwind by streaming her favorite Netflix shows. Tomorrow will be hectic, no doubt, but she’ll be living her dream.

1 comment: