Author Spotlight: Ellie Cypher

 Jan. 22, 2021

We are pleased to feature author Ellie Cypher and her debut YA novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SHADOW SPRINGS (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), out on Feb. 8. Enter to win a copy!


cover art © Lente Scura / design by Krista Vossen

Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for teens.


I am a veterinarian by profession but I have always been a voracious reader. I grew up in a household where books and new ideas and critical thought were always valued and encouraged. Some of my favorite books shaped me when I was in high school and there is just something so pivotal about that time. When all the world is opening to you and there are these great possibilities. And yet you are just beginning to realize the world is so much larger and more complicated than you could ever have imagined. There is so much hope. It is the best.


Congrats on your debut YA novel,  The Girl from the Shadow Springs! Tell us about the book and what inspired you.


Thank you so much! This is something that I’ve been working toward for years, writing, re-writing, querying, more writing and re-writing so it feels both very hard earned but also very surreal and very wonderful. My publisher S&S BFYR pitches The Girl From the Shadow Springs  as The Revenant meets True Grit with a magical twist. It is a story all about vengeance, murder and magic set in an icy wilderness where myths lurk out in the mists. And for me beyond the heart-pumping adventure it is also a book about sisterhood, survival and fighting for family, justice and hope no matter the odds, no matter how harsh the world around you can become. 


The inspiration really came from the first line. 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 starting 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. Lots of BBC nature documentaries didn’t hurt either!



Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?


I would say that my journey to publication has been relatively straightforward (though I do have a few manuscripts that will never see the light of day). Writing has always been something I’ve done for myself, but life and career really took up most of my time, so it wasn’t until the end of my surgical residency that I really thought about querying and publication with any serious intent. That said it took a few novels and even more years to find the right agent and the right book. The Girl From the Shadow Springs is the first book that went out on submission to editors and I am eternally grateful that my editor at S&S BFYR saw the potential and believed in Jorie and this icy world enough to give us a shot! 


What projects are you working on now?


I have a few different 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. 



What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?


Don’t give up. If you write you are a writer and no matter how many people read your work, if you write for yourself, for what makes you happy and the kinds of stories that you want to see out in the world, you are valid. People take all kinds of detours in this profession so luck or no luck, always keep learning, keep reading and just keep writing, you will get there. Yes! 


What is one thing most people don't know about you? 


I love traveling. I think that it is one of the things I miss most during this global pandemic. Getting out of your comfort zone, seeing new places, new wildernesses and different cities, and just meeting new people…it is just the best. 


Where can people find you online? 


Instgram and Twitter: Cypher_ec

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.

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  1. I think we'd enjoy this book's exciting, chilling adventure!

  2. This book looks incredible!! Really enjoyed this interview too :)
    Megan S.

  3. I love the cover--so powerful and dramatic. This book sounds exciting!

  4. Sounds like a very exciting book - written by a very talented author! It's always so inspiring to discover the writer's background!

  5. This book looks great!

  6. Oh, the cover makes me want to read this one! Best wishes! Putting it on my to read list on Goodreads.

  7. Great advice about feeling valid! Thank you, and congrats on the book. It looks amazing. I miss travel so much too. We spent several years living abroad and it's just fueled my passion to meet as many people in as many places as possible.


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