For junior Jacquelyn Eubanks, some of the ideas for her storylines and characters have been in the works since she was a young child. This includes a draft she completed last semester, as well as three published books and another in the editing process.
“I guess I’m really lucky, because when I was young, I had a lot of games I would play with my friends that were imagination games, whether it was detectives or superheroes,” Eubanks said. “When you’re a kid, you come up with these imaginary worlds and storylines that are so unique and interesting because you have all that imagination. I loved those stories so much that now, as an adult, I’ve mulled on them and thought deeply about how I can take those storylines and those characters I invented as a kid and turn them into books.”
Her latest work, “Not All Who Wander are Lost,” serves a sequel to a previous book, “All That is Gold Does Not Glitter.” Both tell the story of a girl who has graduated high school and enters the military shortly before the events of September 11, 2001.
“The book looks at the effects that has on the human spirit, when you actually have to go into a war and face all these horrors,” Eubanks said. “The first book was about the hardships of regular high school life, now add to that the difficulties of being in combat in a foreign country and the struggles that puts on a person, but also, the immense courage and strength that can come out of it.”
There’s a personal connection to her story: Eubanks plans to join the military after graduation and is enrolled in the campus Officer Candidate School program, although Eubanks said she is distinct from the main character of her book in many ways.
Before the book can be published, however, Eubanks will go through a rigorous self-editing process and send the book to her editor, then contact literary agents who will help promote the book to publishing companies.
“Usually, after I finish the manuscript’s first draft, I do an initial read-through and leave marks on the pages like, ‘This needs to be fixed, this needs to be rearranged, more character development here, awkward wording, adjust this sentence,’” Eubanks said. “It’s my own self-criticism, and then I’ll go back through and fix all of those on a rewrite. When I feel like the rewrite is to my liking, I’ll send it to my editor, and then my editor will send feedback almost exclusively based on content. If there are any plot holes, he’ll point those out and make sure the story’s sound.”
She said the Divergent series influenced her as a writer by demonstrating the impact of good character development, a theme she said will be important in her latest work since the main character grows and changes over the course of the story.
She also credited a high school teacher, Julie Hakes, for pushing her to become a better writer.
Hakes, who taught Eubanks’ English class during her junior year at Austin Catholic High School, said Eubanks put substantial effort and thought into the essays she wrote for class.
“She already had that flair of being more proficient,” Hakes said. “When you read Jacky’s papers, she already had a sense of command of language. She knew how to use sentence variety. It was wonderful to teach a student who wrote and communicated clearly.”
Although Eubanks used to spend her summers in middle school and high school writing — sometimes spending days on end working on a story — she said in college, she has learned to take advantage of smaller chunks of time to continue her writing. As a break from writing and schoolwork, Eubanks said she enjoys stories of all kinds, whether in the form of young adult novels, movies, or TV shows.
“I just love seeing how people grow and change,” Eubanks said.