The student news site of Emmaus High School



The student news site of Emmaus High School



EHS alum Hannah Maehrer boasts book success

Photo courtesy of Goodreads.

This previously ran in our October 2023 print issue. 

“I felt like it was very much a pinch-me moment. I was saying all the clichés, like ‘Oh my God, I feel like I’ve got to pinch myself.’ This is a dream come true.”

Hannah Maehrer, a 2015 Emmaus High School graduate, recently reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for her book “Assistant to the Villain” at September’s end. The fantasy-romance novel follows Evie Sage, secretary to her kingdom’s infamous villain, as she tries to support her family while keeping her passions in check.

Maehrer’s ideas for the book came about primarily in two opposite ways: one traditional and one modern.

Much like fellow NYT bestselling author Chris Colfer and his “Land of Stories” series, Mahrer took much inspiration from classical fairy tales and fantasy novels from her childhood.

“I was always really interested in storytelling since I was really really young,” Maehrer said. “We have videos of me on the fireplace at two [years old] reciting ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’, or I would sometimes try to tell ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ I knew that I wanted to be a writer or a storyteller.”

On the other hand, Maehrer was also inspired by the unconventional source of TikTok. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Maehrer would make up fictional storylines to later post on the social media app as her creative outlet, under the handle @hannahnicolemae. These storylines, with the same characters, personalities, and settings,

eventually came together to form the plot of “Assistant to the Villain.” 

Maehrer, who attended Kutztown University for three semesters before transferring to Penn State University Park, did not take advanced English classes to prepare her for life as a writer. Instead, she majored in psychology, which she argues was incredibly useful for writing a novel.

“I had originally planned to go into a career in mental health and helping people with that, but I do not regret the major I majored in at all,” Maehrer said. “I think it was excellent preparation for being a writer because when you’re a writer, you’re supposed to write with empathy for your characters, and empathy for people in general.” 

However, Maehrer’s training was not limited to just her college years. Even in high school, she actively involved herself in writing classes and activities, in particular serving as a staff writer for​​ The Stinger all four years. Maehrer, who took three journalism courses with former The Stinger advisor and current English teacher Denise Reaman, wrote everything from features to opinion stories in the student newspaper.

“She’s always been a tremendously creative spirit,” Reaman said. “Very kind and giving, and empathetic to everyone that she encounters. It’s amazing to see that she’s grown so much, and that her path has gone so far at such a young age. Because to me, she’s still little Hannah Maehrer from journalism class.”

In addition to Reaman, Maehrer developed a close bond with English teacher Christina Simpkins, whom she had for both ninth and 10th grade English classes.

“I loved my English classes,” Maehrer said. “They were the classes that I thrived the best in. I struggled so much in math and science, but English was one of those subjects I always enjoyed… and it’s so great when you have a teacher that also enjoys the subjects and you can tell by how they teach it.” 

Maehrer and Simpkins also connected over their mutual love of several novels of classical literature then taught in the 10th grade curriculum.

“I enjoyed the discussions I had with my English teachers, especially Mrs. Simpkins because she always had really interesting, intricate discussions,” Maehrer said. “One of my very favorite books ever is ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ I would carry it around with me always and it was something Mrs. Simkins and I really bonded over.”

Simpkins has supported continued to avidly support Maehrer’s endeavours even after high school, following her TikTok page and keeping in touch with her former student.

“My favorite most recent memory was going to her book signing at Barnes and Noble,” Simpkins said. “Before it started, I snuck back around to see her. She was so surprised and excited. We traded numbers, so now I text her every time I see her book sold out when I’m out shopping.”

Maehrer ended with one final piece of advice for aspiring writers:

“Write what you love. If you write what you love, there’s a really high probability you’re going to find people that love it too.”

Photo courtesy of Maehrer.
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About the Contributor
Ayaan Shah
Ayaan Shah, Editor-in-Chief
This is Ayaan's third year on The Stinger. He is a member of Academic Team, Varsity Chess Team, President of Chess Club, and Treasurer of World Cultures Club, in addition to being a member of NHS. Ayaan is also a member of the Student Press Law Center's New Voices program, which is dedicated to passing protective state legislation for student journalists. He won first place for editorial writing in the 2023 Keystone Media Awards and third place in the 2023 Pennsylvania Press Club high school journalism contest. In 2024 he won second place for ongoing news coverage of the EPSD Board elections, and also won the $500 statewide diversity champion scholarship award from the Keystone NewsMedia Association. He also won First Place in editorial writing for the 2024 Pennsylvania Press Club competition in addition to several honorable mentions. Prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief, Ayaan was the Managing Opinion Editor, and a Deputy News Editor prior to that. Outside of school, Ayaan enjoys reading history books, writing, and shaping bonsai trees.

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