Early love of books leads to alumna’s second career as teen and adult fantasy, mystery, and suspense writer
Eva Pohler '89, B.A. English Language and Literature
by Mary Denny
Eva Pohler leads a double life. In one she is a retired college professor, devoted wife and mom, admitted HGTV and Netflix junkie, and a self-described “semi-dedicated” gardener. In the other, she’s engrossed with mysterious ghosts, evil vampires, and vengeful Greek deities. And while it is her fantasy world that has catapulted her to fame as a best-selling author, it is the real world that keeps her grounded.
Enthralled with books from an early age, the San Antonio native began writing stories in sixth grade—“purely for my own entertainment,” she says—and never stopped. When a fable she had written for a high school English class was published in a fellow student’s Dungeons and Dragons newsletter, she was hooked and began dreaming of becoming a full-time writer.
Encouraged by her parents to pursue a more practical path, Eva entered Trinity “hoping to be like Anton Chekhov—both a writer and a doctor,” she says. When struggles with chemistry nixed her premed plans, she turned to education under the tutelage of professor John Moore, whom she calls “a true inspiration.” However, one semester of observing a fifth-grade classroom taught her that teaching young children was not for her. She turned to English as a major and found herself mesmerized by English professors Vicki Aarons, Willis Salomon, Peter Balbert, David Middleton, Judith Fischer, Norman Sherry, and Karl Kregor and took every creative writing class offered by Robert Flynn. Ironically, it was working with history professor Don Clark on a first-year seminar program that inspired her to become a professor. “I wanted the liberty to study my favorite subject, to share it with impressionable, young (but not too young) minds, and to schedule my day after nine o’clock,” she laughs, admitting that she is not a morning person so the flexibility of professors’ schedules was a major draw.
She earned a master’s degree in English at St. Mary’s University, followed by a doctorate at Texas Tech University, which offered her a teaching position. “I knew I was on the right track because every day was a pleasure, despite the hard work,” she says.
Returning to San Antonio, Eva married “the love of [her] life,” she fondly says, and began teaching English and literature as an adjunct at Trinity, St. Mary’s, and San Antonio College prior to accepting a full-time position at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She taught literature and creative writing there for 20 years while raising her three children and serving as Cub Scout master for her sons and a Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter.
Although she had been writing all along, it was not until her youngest child was in middle school that Eva became a serious writer. When queries to agents failed to produce results, a friend convinced her to self-publish. She began with two of four finished manuscripts, The Mystery Box and The Gatekeeper’s Sons, but it wasn’t until a 2013 conference geared toward indie authors, which introduced her to marketing strategies, that sales began to soar. By 2015 she was able to retire from teaching and fulfill her dream of being a full-time writer.
For the first year, Eva reveled in spending most days in her PJs at her laptop doing what she loved best, unleashing her imagination on fantasy and suspense tales. In January of this year, her career reached a major milestone when her boxed set Sigils and Spells made USA Today’s bestsellers list. This April she released the final book in the Gatekeeper’s series, which began as a trilogy but was extended into a six-book saga due to reader demand. The books tell the story of a teen who becomes the object of desire of Thanatos, the god of death. Eva’s current work, The Mystery House Series, which she describes as “kind of like Nancy Drew meets ‘If This House Could Talk,’” involves three best friends and empty nesters who must solve a mystery and bring peace to the ghost or ghosts haunting the houses they intend to flip.
Eva herself is not eager for an empty nest and is happy that her adult children still live at home. When she’s not plotting mysteries, she enjoys making improvements to her home and garden. Eva and her husband enjoy hosting big family gatherings and recently renovated their home to better equip it for entertaining. She’s looking forward to fall planting, noting, “Eating what one grows is such a thrill.” If she has a guilty pleasure, it’s being a closet fan of the TV series The Flash. She has seen all 92 episodes multiple times and met two of its stars at Comicpalooza last summer in Houston.
This fall she will teach two First-Year Experience courses at Trinity. “I’m so excited to be back at my alma mater doing my ‘thing’ in front of students while continuing to make my writing dreams come true,” she says. She will also be featured on Trinity’s Learning TUgether podcast series in October. On her success as an author—20 books and counting—Eva adds, “I’m thrilled that now my books are enthralling readers in the same way I was enthralled by books as a child.”
You can contact Eva at evapohler [at] sbcglobal.net.