We are excited to announce a new giveaway! We had the chance to interview author Laurie Forest, YA author of The Black Witch (Harlequin TEEN) and as you know with an interview comes giveaway time!
Enter to win a SIGNED copy of The Black Witch. Contest runs until June 30th. Once winner will be selected. Enter everyday for more chances to win.
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ABOUT THE BOOK
A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.
INTERVIEW WITH LAURIE FOREST
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
Definitely my mom. She was an avid reader and her enthusiasm for reading was infectious.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve been writing fantasy for about 10 years now.
When and why did you begin writing?
When my daughters were pre-teens they kept trying to get me to read the Harry Potter books. I was reading non-fiction almost exclusively and hadn’t really read any fantasy before. They finally wore me down—I read the first Harry Potter book and was instantly hooked. I read through the entire series in about 2 months and started to read all the books my kids handed me, and then some—both adult fantasy and YA. I was like a kid in a candy store. All these books, combined with issues in the news, sparked an idea for a story, which I started to put on paper just for fun. I was instantly hooked by the magic of writing, just like I had been entranced by fantasy fiction.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Wow. That’s a tough one. Not until very recently. I think during my May book tour of the country—I started introducing myself as “a writer from Vermont” and didn’t feel like I was pretending anymore.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading so much fantasy for the first time. I had discovered a whole new genre. Also, the fight for marriage equality here in Vermont and the vicious prejudice that surfaced during that time. It was eye-opening. And frightening.
What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
A positive way to escape. A way to gain empathy (by living inside someone else during the course of the story). The encouragement of the magic of creativity. And fantasy fiction can often talk about real world issues in a metaphorical way—and explore possible solutions (or serve as cautionary tales).
How do you pick your character names?
Baby names lists (often vintage names). Movie characters. People I meet with interesting names. Nature names made into character names.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Getting the worldbuilding consistent.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Getting swept up in the story for a solid year—with the characters taking over and pretty much dictating the story. I’d get ideas at odd times, often when driving, and I’d have to pull over to furiously scribble down whole pages of dialogue. It was like living in an alternate universe, and I think that surreal excitement comes through on the pages. At least I hope it does.
What inspires you?
Good books. Strong tea. Current events and historical events. Religion and philosophy. Really good romance in movies or books. Dragons (every book needs a dragon, even Pride & Prejudice). Compelling characters in film (often the side characters). Foreign films. The growing diversity in literature and cinema.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work? What impact have they had on your writing?
Tamora Pierce, who, in my opinion, is a pioneer in feminist YA. Robin Hobb, whose fantasy worldbuilding is phenomenal. Patrick Rothfuss is a genius wordsmith. And, of course, J.K. Rowling, who is just plain genius. I could write a book about all of my favorite authors, so I’ll just name a few more of them: Cassandra Clare, Leigh Bardugo, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, Kelley Armstrong. The list goes on for miles.
These authors showed me what fantasy can do, how it can transport you to a completely different universe, talk about important, real-world things in metaphorical terms, be a great escape during hard times and test the limits of an author’s creativity. It can also be just plain fun. And…dragons!
Who designed the covers?
The artists at Harlequin TEEN—and I couldn’t be happier. I’m still over the moon about both THE BLACK WITCH’s cover and WANDFASTED’s cover (the e-book prequal to THE BLACK WITCH).
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
So much. I learned how much work and adventure and teamwork is involved in putting a book together. I learned that editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing world (they can make a book so much better. I know my editor drastically improved my book). I read in a different way now, which has been enriching. I don’t just get lost in stories anymore, I also look at how the author crafted the story now.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It’s an incredible honor to know that, somewhere out there, people are curled up with a cup of tea and maybe a cat or two, reading THE BLACK WITCH. I hope my story brings you a great deal of enjoyment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. THE BLACK WITCH (May 2, 2017 – Harlequin TEEN) is her first novel, and WANDFASTED (THE BLACK WITCH prequel, July 1, 2017 – Harlequin TEEN) is her first e-book novella.
Visit her realm at laurieannforest.com
“This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own. A massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Forest uses a richly imagined magical world to offer an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”
-Booklist, starred review
“Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia.
-Publishers Weekly, starred review
“I absolutely loved The Black Witch and will have a very hard time waiting for the second book! Maximum suspense, unusual magic–a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!” -Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“The Black Witch is a refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy. This strong debut offers an uncompromising glimpse of world-altering politics amplified by a magical setting in which prejudice and discrimination cut both ways.” -Robin Hobb, New York Times bestselling author
“We fell under the spell of this rich, diverse, Potter-worthy university world!
Characters that come alive off the page, tangled relationships, swoonworthy romance!
Love the fresh way this also tackles prejudice. Prepare to fangirl!”