I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the Forestborn Blog Tour hosted by The Book Terminal!
Check out my interview and review below!
About the Book
Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker
Release Date: August 31, 2021
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy
TO BE BORN OF THE FOREST IS A GIFT AND A CURSE.
Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared. She uses her abilities to spy for the king, traveling under different guises and listening for signs of trouble.
When a magical illness surfaces across the kingdom, Rora uncovers a devastating truth: Finley, the young prince and her best friend, has caught it, too. His only hope is stardust, the rarest of magical elements, found deep in the wilderness where Rora grew up–and to which she swore never to return.
But for her only friend, Rora will face her past and brave the dark, magical wood, journeying with her brother and the obstinate, older prince who insists on coming. Together, they must survive sentient forests and creatures unknown, battling an ever-changing landscape while escaping human pursuers who want them dead. With illness gripping the kingdom and war on the horizon, Finley’s is not the only life that hangs in the balance.
Find it here:
I enjoyed this YA Fantasy. It picks up very quickly which dives you into the story and keeps on dragging you in. I liked the world building and can’t wait to see more of it in book two.
Rora was a great MC. She’s fierce and no nonsense but she also knows she’s not perfect. I liked learning about her magic and seeing her shapeshift when she needed to. The relationship between Rora and her brother Helos was my favorite. I think it’s important to showcase sibling relationships because so many people can relate to them. It’s not always about romantic relationships and I’m glad that wasn’t the focus of Rora’s journey.
Weslyn is such a serious personality. He is opposite of Rora and I think that’s why she doesn’t understand him in the beginning. It’s a classic enemies to lovers slow burn romance for sure. You can tell they grow on each other throughout their journey but it isn’t the forefront of the story either which made it more intriguing. I’m curious to see where their relationship goes in book two because there’s definitely something there.
So much happens in this book and we see so many parts of the world, along with some interesting creatures, but the ending I will warn you is on the sad side. I’m curious to see where the journey takes these three characters next.
I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for their next YA Fantasy and the bonus of it only being a duology. The wait for book two may be long but at least we know we’ll get the answers we’re looking for!
What drew you to writing YA Fantasy?
Fantasy was my favorite genre growing up. While Young Adult specifically was not nearly as prevalent a category as it is nowadays, there were a few YA fantasies I read in my later teens—Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series, in particular—that really impacted and influenced me. I loved the idea of potentially being lucky enough to one day write something that could impact someone else.
Beyond my own personal history, I’m just very inspired by today’s teen generation and their commitment to pushing for change. They’re contending with a lot, and if I can write something that offers them a bit of inspiration, hope, or entertainment, I’d consider that an honor.
Your bio indicates you grew up visiting national parks, is there a specific park that inspired the world of Forestborn?
There’s definitely a correlation! While Forestborn’s cultural, historical, and political landscapes are entirely imagined, its geographical landscape—the continent’s topography, flora, and fauna—is inspired by different landscapes across North America; namely, the American Southeast, Kentucky’s bluegrass region, the Midwest, the Badlands, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain region. In terms of specific national parks, the Rocky Mountain National Park (as well as Banff National Park up in Canada) very much inspired Forestborn’s Western Vale. The Vale is the magical wilderness in which the main characters search for stardust while contending with magical creatures and unpredictable, shifting terrain.
What was your writing process like when drafting Forestborn?
My writing process is very much, make the book the best it can be and don’t settle for less. If a trusted source thinks of a change that would make the book stronger and feels right to me, I’ll do it, regardless of how long I’ve spent revising already. To that end, Forestborn went through a number of drafts—first based on feedback from beta readers, then with my agent, then with my editor. I wrote the first draft over the course of eight months—primarily in the early morning or on weekends to fit around my full-time job—and it took another three years to go from first draft to final.
Ultimately, I’m very grateful I was able to revise it so extensively, because each revision allowed me to go a little deeper into the characters, the story, and the world.
How many manuscripts did you query before landing Forestborn?
I wrote one manuscript prior to Forestborn, which will likely never see the light of day (and the world is better for it). That book was one I drafted in my teens and edited over the course of many years to come—less because I loved it, and more because it existed, whereas another book did not. By the end, my heart wasn’t truly in the story, so I only queried about a dozen agents with it before making the decision not to query any more. I just had this lightbulb moment in which I looked at that manuscript and thought, I can do better. So one month into querying, I scrapped it and began developing a new novel that grew into Forestborn. Forestborn is the manuscript that landed me an agent!
What are you most nervous about when it comes to launch day? Do you have any tour dates scheduled yet?
I have three events scheduled for August 31, September 2, and September 3 with the wonderful TJ Klune, Joanna Hathaway, and Cory Anderson respectively. In terms of nerves, there will always be an element of anxiety as to how the book will be received.
This story and these characters are very close to my heart, and I hope they resonate with others as well. As for the launch day itself, though, I suppose it’ll mostly come down to nerves over that night’s event!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read actively, particularly in the genres you’d like to write. Instead of passively internalizing the story you’re reading, actively engage with what’s on the page. Take note of what you’re seeing that you think is working well versus what’s falling flat. Do you like the way a certain author approaches character work? Does a book’s pacing move too quickly or too slowly to achieve the level of depth you find most effective? Do you buy this on-the-page romance, or is it falling flat for you—and in either case, why is that? Ask yourself questions like these as you read, and you’ll begin to build a loose mental model for how you’d like to approach your own writing.
Learn to take critical feedback. I truly can’t overstate the importance of learning to accept critical feedback. As writers, we get so close to our own work that it’s impossible for us to identify all the strengths and weaknesses on the page. Also, because writing can be such a personal endeavor, it’s easy to feel like critiques of your work are actually critiques of you. It’s important to separate the two! Identify the heart of your book and stick to it, but be prepared to change a lot of other things. Remember that edits exist to strengthen your story, not weaken it.
Always keep writing. I don’t mean that only from a never-give-up/perseverance standpoint, though that’s indisputably important, too. I also mean that the more you write, the more your craft improves. (Remember those multiple drafts I referenced for Forestborn?) So write, write, write.
And on that note, don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer. Sometimes, I think writers believe they have to have a book deal in order to call themselves writers. That isn’t true. Regardless of publication status, or if you even want to be published—if you write because you feel you have to, you are a writer. Own it.
How many books will we get with Forestborn and when should we expect the next installment?
Forestborn is the first book in a duology! The second installment, Wildbound, is scheduled to pub in August 2022. I’m very excited for it.
About the Author
ELAYNE AUDREY BECKER is a storyteller with a passion for history, myth, mountains, and magic. She holds a BA from Vassar College and an MSc from the University of Aberdeen and has worked as an editor at a New York publisher. Born and raised in Georgia, she grew up with a lake and woods as her backyard, spending long days outside and visiting national parks with her family.
Blog Tour Schedule
The Clever Reader – Review / Interview