Ask the Author: Laurie Forest
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m an epic fantasy author who lives in the backwoods of Vermont where I spend a lot of time in front of a wood stove drinking strong black tea and dreaming up tales with dragons and dryads.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
The Black Witch is about a sheltered young woman named Elloren Gardner who is growing up in a strict and closed-off magical society. She’s the granddaughter a spitting-image of the late Black Witch, the greatest Battle Mage her people have ever known, but whereas her grandmother had vast elemental wand power, Elloren is thought to have none. When she has the chance to attend a university to pursue becoming an apothecary, Elloren encounters people from other countries and cultures for the first time and quickly finds that the wider world is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
Part of my inspiration for this book was the “evil lord” trope in much of fantasy (like Voldemort, Sauron, etc.). I thought it would be interesting if the evil lord won (here the evil lord is the Black Witch) and had a granddaughter – and the granddaughter grew up only surrounded by her people and taught history according to the evil lord’s POV. And then she got thrown into wider society amongst people who are horribly oppressed by her people and hostile to her – but she has no way to defend herself.
I thought that was a very interesting jumping off point for a story.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
Some of it I’ve discussed above, but I was also inspired by all the YA fantasy my kids gave me to read when they were pre-teens (I’d never really read fantasy before). The other inspiration was the fight for marriage equality here in Vermont (the battle to allow gay, lesbian, etc. people the right to marry in many ways started in the courts here in Vermont). During that time, I worked on the pro-marriage equality side and was shocked by the level of prejudice that emerged. Between having a direct experience of really awful prejudice and reading all this fantasy, a story with themes of prejudice started to gain ground in my mind. And I wanted to pull all the fantasy elements I was growing to love into it (dragons, wands, elves, shapeshifters, elemental magic, a magical university, etc.)
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
The end of Iron Flower (where Yvan and Elloren both learn many things about each other – I don’t want to reveal spoilers) was my favorite scene to write. My other favorite scene was Elloren’s Sealing night (her marriage night basically) 😉
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
Too many to count! Mainly Robin Hobb, Tamora Pierce, Cassandra Clare, Stephanie Meyers, J.K. Rowling, Tolkein to name a few. The Harry Potter series (which my kids got me to read) was my gateway into fantasy.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Do it! Jump in and do it. Write every day and read a ton. That seems to be the same advice most authors give 🙂 You’ll be surprised by what you come up with!
The Black Witch
The Rebel Mages
The Iron Flower
The Shadow Wand