At eight years old, Eva Ridenhour already defies expectations about what it means to be a writer. Eva writes, illustrates, and publishes her own stories, and has already toured the country selling her own work alongside her father, novelist Jamieson Ridenhour. She’s also uploaded a series of short writing lectures about her process, which you can find on her site. Eva was inspired by NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, and has written her own work in November two years in a row. Via email, OLL got a chance to speak to Eva regarding her work and experience with NaNoWriMo.
Where do you get ideas for your stories?
I get my story ideas by looking around and exaggerating simple things. For instance, if I’m playing with stuffed animals, I make up a whole new story idea. My favorite stuffed animal is named Kinzy (he’s a koala); he has a big imagination. I like to make up stories about the Koala Wars with all sorts of funny things that have to do with Kinzy. It’s very fun to give him a personality. He loves to eat, and has a best friend named Mark. He’s not very smart, but thinks he’s the most Awesome Thing Ever.
I also love reading. My favorite books by far are the Harry Potter series. They give me lots of ideas, because I like that kind of magical story, and it makes me want to write magical books.
I was inspired to write Birds on the Run and Attack of the Reptiles (my first two books) by my love of bird watching. I like watching how birds act, and could imagine them coming into my house, and talking to me. So I made that come to life.
What do you enjoy more: writing or illustrating?
Writing, hands down. I like writing, because I’m able to bring my imagination to life through words, and I love to read.
In one of your videos, you mention touring with your father. What was the book tour experience like?
It was very fun. I had to get up and talk to people. It made me nervous the whole time, but I loved it, because I got to talk with so many people and meet new people. I liked talking about my books. Once I begin, I can hardly stop!
Selling and signing the books was fun too, because it made me feel excited and happy. It feels good to know that people like my stuff.
Can you tell us a little about your next book?
I am working on more than one book, but I’ll tell you about one in particular. This one is about a monster slayer. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to turn out yet, but there will be werewolves and lots of fighting and fun. The monster slayer is a 12-year-old girl named Talen who has an unusual life. She has alien parents and was born in the stars (but she doesn’t know that); she now lives in a tree. She fights monsters, because a pack of werewolves attacked her on her 12th birthday. There’s also a very wimpy boy named Kevin who has never seen adventure before; they eventually become friends and fight together, even though Talen is a much better fighter than Kevin.
Where did you get the idea to start making videos about your writing?
I was on the book tour when I had the idea of the writing videos. I discovered that I had something to say—that I inspired people. The videos help me talk to people without having to go everywhere. I am hoping that teachers will find my videos and show them to their classrooms. I’m trying to get the word out now by going to teachers’ conventions. My parents are also emailing them to teachers and writers.
What has been your coolest experience as an author?
Neil Gaiman watched my videos, and that’s so awesome nobody can imagine it. He even commented on them. He said, “She does an amazing job.” Debbie Dadey, who writes the Baily School Kids, commented on my website itself. She liked my videos too!
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
I like writing the books themselves more than illustrating, revising, or the rest of the writing process. When I’m writing, I feel like I’m inside the story, doing all the stuff my characters are doing. And I’m having fun!