Friday, January 5, 2018

Interview with Laurie Forest, author of The Black Witch.

First of all, I’m very happy to have you here. You’ve had quite a busy year, tell me about your releases on 2017. 
The Black Witch came out in May – the first book of The Black Witch Chronicles (a series of four book and two novel-length e-book “novellas” – there might be a few more novellas down the road as well as a sequel series, but that’s on the back-burner at the moment).
I’ll give you the cover blurb as a description, since I really like it (my editor wrote it – I’m not good at writing short, but she’s good at writing all things) -

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.

Wandfasted came out in July – it’s the prequel to the series (and a full-length novel, even though we’ve labelled it an e-book “novella”). It’s very actiony then very swoony ;) It takes place 20 years prior to The Black Witch and gives the reader a glimse of the original Black Witch in action on the battlefield and tells the love story of Elloren Gardner’s parents. I adore this book. And it was great fun writing characters who are older in The Black Witch as young adults – Uncle Edwin, Aunt Vyvian and Jules Kristian amongst them. The reader also gets to meet Fallon Bane’s parents and Gareth Keeler’s parents.
Here’s the description:

Magic, romance and adventure collide in Wandfasted, the irresistible ebook prequel to The Black Witch by Laurie Forest
When they painted Heretics on our barn and set fire to it, I thought that was the worst it could get.
Until they sent the dragons.
But they didn't count on us having dragons of our own. And they certainly didn't count on Her. Our Great Mage. The Bringer of Fire. The Storm of Death. The Crow Sorceress. Our Deliverance.
The Black Witch.

How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
It didn’t really. When I sit down to write, I try to put the entire world out of my mind and pretend I’m writing something that only I will see. If I don’t do that, my writing is pretty stale. When I do that, it seems that the muse kicks into overdrive and I’m excited about what I’m doing. I don’t believe in writing censored in any way. I do believe in brutal editing, however.

Have you traveled to get inspiration? And, what inspires you?
Books. Movies. I’m mostly in Vermont, and Vermont definitely was a huge inspiration for the physical world of The Black Witch. I’m thinking about straying into more of a fantasy landscape for Book Three when the story moves to the Eastern Realm. 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. But even the exhaustion is deeply rewarding. And frustrating. And awesome.

Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do, but I think the only way to work through it is to write. Even writing badly through it. There’s a few quotes I repeat to myself when I’m stuck in a bad writing vortex:
“The muse can’t resist a working writer.”
Ray Bradbury
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Jack London

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow?
I mostly go with the flow. Which means my editor has to be a saint who needs to be showered with gifts at some point.

How do you come up with the names for your characters? 
Riffing on names in favorite books, baby name sites, fantasy name generators online, riffing on Hollywood actor names and names of people I meet. I was actually taking secret notes at book signings because I encountered so many fab names all over the country.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Editing on deadline. Especially if the deadline is tight. 

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
No research prior to a book, but along the way. The tangents are one of the most enjoyable things about writing – I’ve found out about horses, smithing, swordmaking, violin making and playing, textiles, using birds for sending messages, etc. During the course of writing this series. I suspect seafaring will be next. 

Does the opinion of potential readers influences your writing? 
Not during the writing phase. During the editing phase it does, in that I want to be sensitive. But I also don’t want to shy away from controversial storylines and dark characters. It’s a difficult balance, but a balance worth striving for.

How do you deal with criticism?
Books are very subjective things – not everyone is going to like any given book, so I’m fine with readers having their own views about anything I’ve written, even very critical views. I do think it’s a good thing for critics/journalists/etc. to read books before giving a critique, though. It seems to make sense to me. I’ve gotten good ideas from some critics who have read my book – that have helped me to become a better writer. I am including controversial themes in my stories, so I anticipated those things touching off some debates and strong feelings, and that’s what’s happened. And I think that’s a good thing.

What do you think makes a good story?
Personally, I like character driven stories with compelling, dramatic storylines, romance with great chemistry and witty dialogue. And a great fantasy setting is always a plus.

Name a few of your favorite books and authors.
I’ll throw out a link (that is absolutely not final – it’s a work in progress). There are a lot of books I’ve read over the past few months that are phenomenal that I haven’t entered here yet – 
But I will say, MAKE SURE YOU READ Tanaz Bhathena’s A Girl Like That coming in 2018. It is, hands down, the best book I’ve ever read. I’m not kidding. It is the greatest honor of my autor life that I got to read this book early.

What was the hardest scene to write in The Black Witch?
The scene where Ariel’s kindred is found murdered. It’s just so disturbing. And I had a hard time getting Tierney’s character right, but she’s fallen completely into place for me now (which is good, since she’s a major character as the series progresses).

Of the books you’ve launched so far, which is your favorite? Why?
Wandfasted. It was written during a very difficult time of my life (my mother was in hospice care) – and written in large part by her bedside. So, the book was an escape and a way of channeling feelings of intense grief and lonliness. It’s interesting, because I’ve heard from fans who found the book to be a great escape from stress – fans in the hospital, a mother of twins, a Pediatric nurse. I’m really happy that this book did for them what it did for me. And I’m madly in love with Vale Gardner (my husband was great inspiration for the carácter). I love The Black Witch too, but Wandfasted holds a special place in my heart.

Favorite character you’ve created so far?
Fain Quillen in Wandfasted. I just fell in love with him and am bringing him back in Book Three of the series because I adore him so much. In The Black Witch, I’d have to say Ariel Haven. Followed closely by Jules Kristian.

What releases do you have planned for this year? 
This summer, Light Mage comes out. It’s another full-length novel even though we’re labelling it a “novella” (e-book) and tells the story of how Sage Gaffney got hold of the White Wand, broke with the Gardnerians, had an Icaral baby and was drawn to bring the Wand to Elloren Gardner. I’m pretty excited to share this one – I think it’s my most personal book to date. It’s the most intense thing I’ve ever written (with the exception of sections of The Iron Flower, perhaps).

Planned for this fall is The Iron Flower which is Book Two of The Black Witch Chronicles which will be out in hardcover/audio and e-book. We pick up a few days after The Black Witch let off, and many explosive secrets will be revealed ;) And I also throw a stick of dynamite into the narrative – it’s a dark story, so get ready.

Here’s a sneak peak at what’s being worked on for the cover blurb (first time seen anywhere!) –
A dragon freed from captivity. A Selkie hidden in the North Tower. A shadow power rising.
Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.
With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the University…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s power―the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.
Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

Thanks for interviewing me, Selene ☺

The pleasure was for sure all mine!

Links were your readers can stalk Laurie. 









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