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A headshot of Victoria

“It was honestly one of the best days of my life,” said Wlosok, remembering the phone call when she learned she would be a published author. (Photo by Chris Ocana)

Victoria Wlosok signed a book deal for her young adult thriller with a “big five” publisher when she was still a first-year student. On Sept. 19, her work hit the shelves. 

Victoria Wlosok had an extra reason to anticipate the start of her junior year at Carolina. Her debut novel, How to Find a Missing Girl, published by Little, Brown of Hachette Book Group, hit the shelves in mid-September. 

Wlosok, of Sylva, North Carolina, is a double major in English and comparative literature in the College of Arts and Sciences and business administration in the Kenan-Flagler Business School. She calls the combination of studies “the best of both worlds.” 

“I’m standing on the shoulders of literary giants at UNC,” said Wlosok. “I think I’m too passionate about reading and writing to not be majoring in English and comparative literature in an attempt to follow in their footsteps.” 

Carolina’s literary luminaries include authors Tracy Deonn (Legendborn), Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Summer I Turned Pretty), Mary Pope Osborne (Magic Tree House), Zayika Dalia Harris (The Other Black Girl) and Sarah Dessen (Along for the Ride), all of whom Wlosok named as writing inspirations, among others. 

Wlosok also drew inspiration for her novel How to Find a Missing Girl — a young adult thriller — from her UNC coursework. 

The class “Mystery Fiction,” taught by Henry Veggian, associate teaching professor, expanded how she reads and thinks about thrillers, she said. 

“Being able to read and analyze mystery fiction — and trace the genre from Edgar Allan Poe’s nameless narrators to Arthur Conan Doyle’s detectives — impacted how I read and think about thrillers.” 

That class is the source of a favorite character detail in her own book, which follows 17-year-old amateur detective Iris Blackthorn as she attempts to investigate the disappearance of her cheerleader ex-girlfriend. 

“One of my favorite details in the book is that my main character, Iris, has a collection of plants named after famous fictional detectives,” she said. “After English 147 ended, I went in and added some names from the course text.” 

The cover art of "How to Find a Missing Girl" by Victoria Wlosok features a spilled pink drink and blood spatters.

“I’m standing on the shoulders of literary giants at UNC.”

– Victoria Wlosok

Beyond class, Wlosok is involved in UNC S.O.U.L. — the Student Organization for Undergraduate Literature — where she meets with friends and book lovers for lively literary discussions. 

She also served as the publicity intern for the Jane Austen Summer Program, an annual four-day symposium for “Janeites” co-founded by Inger Brodey, associate professor in the department of English and comparative literature. Wlosok names Brodey — who has received multiple NEH grants for her research on Austen — as a close mentor, along with Ross White, director of creative writing and teaching associate professor. 

With the publication of her book, Wlosok is thrilled to join the community of young adult authors and is proud to contribute to LGBTQ+ representation in young adult fiction. She said the novel “is meant for fans of young adult thrillers who, like me, weren’t always able to see themselves reflected in the genre’s pages, and I hope it resonates with readers for that reason upon its release.” 

By Jess Abel ’19 

Published in the Fall 2023 issue | Student Up Close, Tar Heels Up Close

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