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Junior Victoria Wlosok celebrates release of her debut novel

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Victoria Wlosok holds her new book, “How to Find a Missing Girl”, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sept. 19, 2023. Wlosok hosted book launch at Epilogue where she discussed what it was like to become a published author as a college student.

On Sept. 19, UNC junior Victoria Wlosok was busy celebrating the release of her debut novel, young adult sapphic thriller "How to Find a Missing Girl." 

The book follows Iris Blackthorn, a 17-year-old amateur detective, leading her friends on a quest to solve the disappearances of her older sister and her ex-girlfriend before she turns 18. 

In the crowded cafe of Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, Wlosok’s parents eagerly captured every moment of her book launch speech and the reactions of the audience with their cameras.

Wlosok's 10-year-old sister sat on the edge of her seat grinning, taking in every word, and her 13-year-old sister, who aspires to get published even sooner than Victoria did, was trying to hide her joy behind the phone she was using to record Victoria’s speech.

Wlosok occupies her time double-majoring in English and business, serving as a resident adviser and reading and writing nonstop.

Her journey to publication was unique. 

Wlosok began querying her novel the summer before her first year at UNC, and within 35 days of querying, she received her first offer of representation.

She got four more offers before officially signing with an agent during her first few weeks at UNC.

After a semester of editing, she sold her debut novel in a two-book deal within the first two weeks of her second semester.

Despite her workload, she achieved all of this during her first year of college. 

“That was what was most important to me, and so making that a priority wasn’t even an issue," she said.

Prioritizing her writing isn’t new to Wlosok, though. 

She’d written numerous young adult fantasy books in high school through National Novel Writing Month, the annual November competition to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

However, the turning point toward publication occurred when she shifted genres and was exposed to the YA thriller space.

“I actually realized I don’t really like writing YA fantasy and I like reading books in the YA horror, thriller, mystery space much more," she said.

Exploring courses and student groups at UNC furthered her commitment to writing in the mystery thriller space. Wlosok couldn’t praise the support she’s gotten from the UNC community enough.

“Every English class that I’ve taken I’ve loved, every English professor that I’ve had I’ve loved,” she said.

Wlosok also found community through other YA teen writers on social media — including fellow UNC students. Two of those friends even flew out for her release event.

“It’s so nice to have a community of people who are young, who are there for me to reach out to, who understand what I'm going through,” she said.

On Tuesday, Wlosok finished her release day signing the sold-out stock of her novel at Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews. The book launch event was moderated by local YA romance author Serena Kaylor.

Kaylor said it was clear that the twists and turns of "How to Find a Missing Girl" took effort and plotting, and that it was exciting to find out information as the characters did as the story progressed.

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Wlosok’s agent, Jessica Errera, is a UNC alumna herself.

Wlosok said she’d kept her age and student status private while querying with almost every agent, so ending up signing with Errera, as opposed to the other offers she received, was "serendipitous."

"I just knew, and sometimes you just have a feeling,” she said.

Errera said uplifting the voices of authors is "the absolute dream.”

“It feels like a really nice sense of tradition that there are people coming out of Carolina who are doing whatever they can to contribute to the literary canon and the literary community,” she said.

Wlosok said her journey is not representative of a typical publishing experience for anyone, let alone aspiring student authors. Her advice to other writers seeking to finish and publish their own novels is to commit and be dedicated to what they're passionate about.

"Seek feedback," she said. "Writing is solitary, editing is not.”

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com