2021 Debut Interview: Ellie Cypher!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and to spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun for years to come! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2021 debuts and chat with them about their writing process and what it's like to be a new author. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats, and more!

At the end of 2020, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Ellipe Cypher and her novel THE GIRL FROM SHADOW SPRINGS, and we have been interested in it ever since! We are so excited to have Ellie on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Dr. Ellie Cypher grew up in Northern California, graduated from University of California Santa Cruz with a degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. She has lived and worked all over the world from New Zealand to Tasmania to the United Kingdom. She currently calls the great state of Tennessee home. When not writing, she can be found spending her time caring for all manner of creatures great and small, dreaming about traveling, drinking too much coffee or generally wandering about the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains with her husband and eleven-year-old black lab.

Keep up with Ellie: Website / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?

Ellie: Thank you so much! This is something that I’ve been working toward for years, writing, rewriting, querying, more writing and rewriting so it feels both very hard earned but also very surreal and very wonderful. A lot of this process can feel very much ‘hurry up and wait’ but now that the time has come for my debut book to release, I both cannot wait for Jorie and her book to be out in the world and am endlessly worried about all the things I cannot control. Writers work so hard, often in a little bubble by ourselves, and then one day you just…aren’t alone anymore, there are other writers and agents and editors and most importantly readers. But overall if I had to summarize I would say it feels wonderfully terrifying in the best way.

The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what's the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?

Ellie: The easiest part of writing The Girl From Shadow Springs honestly was the voice (which is not always the case for me), but Jorie just jumped onto the page. And love her or not, like the voice or not, Jorie was formed from that very first page, that first line which has never changed from my first draft. Not once. Jorie is unlike another character I have ever written and her words, her thoughts…I couldn’t write fast enough to keep up with her. Keeping her contained to a reasonable plot on the other hand…that was like wrangling an avalanche. Much I think like Cody feels when he first meets her and well, you’ll just have to read to find out, but I say good luck to Cody with that! The hardest part was letting go and saying goodbye to this book and these characters. But I hope someone out there will love them as much as I do.

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the idea for THE GIRL FROM SHADOW SPRINGS?

Ellie: The first line, that first chapter. They have never changed, minor edits certainly but nothing big, nothing major. When Jorie spoke that first line, when it went onto the page, I knew I had to know what kind of girl would say this. Where was she? Whose eyes? Why was she even out in the snow and ice staring at a dead man? Who was this girl? And when I start asking questions, when the world won’t leave me alone, I know I have something real.

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the most difficult?

Ellie: I would have to say that Jorie was my favorite character to write (though Bass is a close second), mainly as it felt more like transcribing her onto the page than actual writing. I was never at a loss for how she would act or reacted in any given situation. Vela on the other hand, she was much more difficult to find. She is lost in a way that makes it hard to focus on her character, makes her hard to hold onto, to figure out. She is the center of her own world, for good or bad, and so insulated from the people around her she wanted to stay just out of my grasp. And when these two meet it gets interesting!

The Book Bratz: Are there any other books or authors who give you inspiration for your own writing?

Ellie: So many. I mostly love to read non-fiction when I am drafting and I always find my way back to my absolute favorite books, the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot. Laura Hillenbrand and Paul Kalanithi are also favorites. I also love anything to do with history and mythology, bring on those epic Sagas! And as for fiction you cannot go wrong with the Six of Crows books by Leigh Bardugo, anything by Silvia Moreno Garcia, Garth Nix, Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula K. Le Guin, Robert Jordan or of course Neil Gaiman.

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from THE GIRL FROM SHADOW SPRINGS? 

Ellie: What I wish readers to take away from my books is simple: Hope. That no matter the odds, no matter how bleak the world around you may seem, no matter how you have been treated or how hard you have had to become that there is always hope. And that each and every one of us, no matter who we are, are worthy of it. That hope is worth fighting for. That no matter how the world sees you, no matter how they label you, you are worth it. That you can have hope, and you are worth fighting for. 

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE GIRL FROM SHADOW SPRINGS in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?

Ellie: As of now there are no direct books or sequels planned for TGFSS. That said, this world is so big, so much bigger than Jorie has ever seen, with a sprawling history and undiscovered continents that I would love to write more in this world if I was given the chance. I do have a couple of other projects simmering in the background (more myth and magic) and fingers crossed those get to be out in the world soon too. Because after all, there are always new words and new worlds just itching at the edge of the blank page, waiting impatiently for their turn to be told. Thank you guys so much, this has been really great to be here with you!

Title: The Girl from Shadow Springs
Author: Ellie Cypher
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 9th, 2021

Summary: Everyone in Shadow Springs knows that no one survives crossing the Flats. But the threat of a frozen death has never deterred the steady stream of treasure hunters searching for a legendary prize hidden somewhere in the vast expanse of ice. Jorie thinks they’re all fools, which makes scavenging their possessions easier. It’s how she and her sister, Brenna, survive. Then Jorie scavenges off the wrong body. When the dead man’s enemy believes Jorie took something valuable from the body, he kidnaps Brenna as collateral. He tells Jorie that if she wants her sister back, she’ll have to trade her for the item he thinks she stole. But how can Jorie make a trade when she doesn’t even know what she’s looking for? Her only source of information is Cody, the dead man’s nephew and a scholar from the South who’s never been hardened by the harsh conditions of the North. Though Jorie’s reluctant to bring a city boy out onto the Flats with her, she’ll do whatever it takes to save her sister. But anything can happen out on the ice, and soon Jorie and Cody find they need one another more than they ever imagined—and they’ll have to trust each other to survive threats beyond their darkest nightmares.

Thank you so much to Ellie for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE GIRL FROM SHADOW SPRINGS and can't wait for it to be out in the world on February 9th

Celebrate So Excited GIF by Hey Violet

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