Debut Club

Debut Club: Julie Eshbaugh Talks About IVORY AND BONE

Julie spoke with fellow author Breeana Shields about her YA debut, which was just published by HarperTeen. Julie’s a member of the Sweet Sixteens, an online group for YA and MG authors debuting in 2016. Breeana rolls with the Swanky Seventeens.


Hunting, surviving, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—almost grave—mistake. But there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.

You can PREORDER Julie’s novel at:







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Julie Eshbaugh once produced an online video series for teens which received several honors from the Webby Awards. Now, she focuses her time on writing. Ivory and Bone is her debut novel. You can find her online at, as well as on Twitter and on facebook.




Breeana: IVORY AND BONE has such lush, beautiful world-building that it reads more like fantasy than historical fiction. What kind of research did you do for this book?

Julie: First of all, I’m so flattered that you enjoyed the world-building in IVORY AND BONE! I love prehistory, and when I began working on the book I came across several articles about the first people to come to the Americas via the Bering Land Bridge. Archaeology is a contentious science, and there’s a lot of debate about who the first settlers in North America were, where they came from, how they got here, and what their lives were like. Because there’s controversy surrounding these people, there’s a lot to read, and I read four books about the latest theories—that they came using watercraft, that they ate a varied diet, that they traveled along an ice-free coastline. I also visited museums, looked at lots and lots of maps, and read articles from scholarly journals.

Breeana: I loved the unique narrative structure of IVORY AND BONE. You manage to pull off a second person point-of-view masterfully. Can you talk a bit about your choice to tell the story in second person? Was the narrative structure always part of your original vision or did it emerge later?

Julie: The structure wasn’t part of the plan until I started drafting. I had intended to write from Mya’s POV, but Kol was the one who wanted to talk. His voice just flowed, but I imagined him telling the story to Mya, so I drafted it that way. I tried to change it to a straight first person after I was about three chapters in, but I felt it lost some intimacy, so I went back to the original. When I sent it to a CP, she suggested I change it. She worried it would be off-putting to some readers. This was a good thing, because it forced me to think it over. It made my decision to tell the story this way very firm, and it helped me know what I wanted. I know it won’t appeal to every reader, but to me, it’s like a song. When a singer sings, “I love you,” we either identify with the singer or the person he or she is singing to. I hope people respond to the IVORY AND BONE that way.

Breeana: The characters in IVORY AND BONE are so well-drawn (Kol is one of my favorite male narrators ever) and I loved the slow-burn love romance. How do you approach character development?

Julie: It makes me so happy to know you love Kol! Many of the characters in IVORY AND BONE were inspired by the characters in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, but with the genders swapped. But that was just a starting point for each of them. I’ve used all kinds of character worksheets in the past and I still do, but I really like to create character narratives. Once I get my characters talking I can discover their vulnerabilities. I think the character arc is so important, so I look for weaknesses where the growth can happen.

Breeana: What was your path to publication like for this novel?

Julie: This novel had a bit of a fairy tale story, but I rarely share it because it gives the false impression that everything was easy! Keep in mind that this was the second book my agent had sent out for me, and a previous agent had submitted a novel before that, so this was my third YA book to go out on submission. With that in mind, I have to admit that IVORY AND BONE sold quickly. It went out on exclusive submission on a Friday and I had a call from my agent on Sunday. We had an offer on Tuesday. It really was a dream come true after two books that didn’t find homes.


Cake or pie?


Do you have any rituals when you write? Music? Snacks? Lucky socks?

My only rituals are silence and solitude. (Unfortunately, those things are hard to come by!)

What were you reading when you were sixteen?

FOREVER by Judy Blume.

If you had to pick one song to go on the soundtrack for IVORY AND BONE, what would it be?

My husband is a singer-songwriter, and he has a song called A LOVE LIKE THIS that we both think fits the book perfectly. 

Early bird or night owl?

Night owl!

What’s the oddest job you’ve ever had?

I had to clean the history office at my high school as a work study job. It was kind of stressful because I had a crush on my history teacher!


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Breeana Shields graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature. Her first novel, POISON’S KISS, debuts from Random House in 2017. Breeana lives in the Pacific Northwest, where it drizzles, rains or pours nine months of the year, but then transforms into paradise during the other three. She’s willing to make the trade-off.

Find Breeana on her Website, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram





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