I’m a huge fan of Rosalyn Eves’ YA Fantasy series Blood Rose Rebellion, which I first featured back in 2017. Her newest book, BEYOND THE MAPPED STARS, offers a historical fiction adventure set in the 19th Century and is due out on August 24, 2021:
Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Bertelsen dreams of becoming an astronomer, but she knows such dreams are as unreachable as the stars she so deeply adores. As a Mormon girl, her duty is to her family and, in a not too far away future, to the man who’ll choose to marry her.
When she unexpectedly finds herself in Colorado, she’s tempted by the total eclipse of the sun that’s about to happen—and maybe even meeting up with the female scientists she’s long admired. Elizabeth must learn to navigate this new world of possibility: with her familial duties and faith tugging at her heartstrings, a new romance on the horizon, and the study of the night sky calling to her, she can’t possibly have it all…can she?
In our last interview you said, “Hungary has a very special place in my heart, as I lived there for nearly a year and a half.” What is your favorite memory from Hungary and why?
My favorite part of Hungary was more the people than the places, but there are a couple of things I vividly remember. In the summers, there would be these huge fields of sunflowers everywhere we went, higher than our heads. They were gorgeous. There was also one time I ended up on the wrong train and my friends and I jumped off just as the train started moving (I would not recommend this).
Ha, I guess not! I love that BEYOND THE MAPPED STARS takes place in the 19th century. How did you know that this would be the best setting for Elizabeth’s story?
I got the idea for BEYOND THE MAPPED STARS listening to an interview in 2017 with David Baron about his book, American Eclipse, about the 1878 eclipse. He talked about all these famous scientists who came west for the eclipse and how this was a watershed moment for American science, and I found myself wondering how the eclipse appeared to people already living in the west, and specifically, what it might mean for a young woman living on the frontier with dreams of becoming an astronomer but without the resources available in the East.
What a great source of inspiration! You’ve also mentioned how projects of yours can “hold your attention.” What does a project need to have for you to stick with it long term?
I can be pretty stubborn once I get invested in something, but the most important things for me in a story are characters that I care about and a question I find compelling. In Blood Rose Rebellion, it was the question of self-acceptance: how do you learn to lean into who you are, with your own particular gifts and weaknesses? Beyond the Mapped Stars is the most personal book I’ve written, in part because, like me, the main character struggles with figuring out how her ambitions and interests fit in with the expectations her family and community have for her. How do we claim the path we want for our lives when we don’t see it reflected in the lives of those around us? How do we reconcile competing beliefs and expectations (in Elizabeth’s case, it’s science and religious faith, but I think most of us have felt that conflict in our lives, especially as teenagers).
Yup, I can definitely confirm that was my experience also. What are some books you wished you’d had growing up and why?
This is a great question! One thing I love now is the explosion of YA, and the way so many kids can find their own experiences reflected in books. When I was a kid, YA was pretty limited. Some specific books I wish I’d had growing up: I would have loved Laini Taylor and Maggie Stiefvater’s fantasy books, and Stacey Lee’s smart historicals. I wish we’d had more books like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, or Nic Stone’s Dear Martin, as the issues of racism they tackle are so important but largely things I didn’t encounter until college. I would have loved Nadine Courtney’s All-American Muslim Girl, both because of the sensitive way it introduces Muslim beliefs, but because it also demonstrates that you can be part of a religious community and still wrestle with some of the beliefs and expectations. I’m currently reading Fat Chance, Charlie Vega, and have been thinking how much I wish there had been books like this when I was an overweight teen, that didn’t see fatness as a character flaw, but just part of who you are, but still acknowledge how challenging it can be to love yourself in the body you have. There are lots more, but these are the first ones that came to mind.
You can find Rosalyn Eves’ other books, including the Blood Rose Rebellion trilogy, at http://www.rosalyneves.com/books/