1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?
I love the feel of a hardback or paperback, but I love the convenience of eBooks. Sometimes I want to highlight text, but I feel like it’s a disservice to the physical book if I mark it in any way. This is a silly opinion, as it’s my own book, but it just never left me. With eBooks, I can add as many comments or highlights as I want. As for audiobooks, I love that they exist, but I have a hard time focusing on audio, so I don’t tend to seek them out over text. There’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands, though, and turning the pages.
2. Pick a genre, any genre!
Pastoral fantasy. Now I’ll be honest, I haven’t really read many pastoral novels (unless you would somehow count Wizard of Earthsea), however, I have read the manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou by Hitoshi Ashinano. It’s a slice-of-life science fiction manga, and while it isn’t labeled as pastoral, I would consider it to be such in the sense that it focuses on rural living in a post-apocalyptic world, and the peace the main character, Alpha, and her ‘neighbors’ experience. I also find myself viewing the Studio Ghibli films in a pastoral light as well, as these films tend to focus on the little details of ‘mundane life’ and make them extremely beautiful and meaningful. I love to see hope and light, and a harmony with nature, brought to the forefront in media, and that’s what I try to do with my own stories.
3. What is the first book you remember reading?
Three Little Pigs, only because I remember telling my mother I was going to “write a book”, and then typed up the entire thing on the family computer. As for a novel, I’m not sure, probably The Face by Dean Koontz? Or a Goosebumps, maybe.
4. What book shaped your childhood most?
Not gonna lie, probably the Harry Potter books. I read the first two when they came out, but didn’t get to read the rest of the series until high school. By then, I had already started roleplaying online in forums, and joining a Harry Potter writing group was not only a ton of fun, but improved my writing, too.
5. When did you first start writing?
I believe around 2001, but it could have been earlier. It was in the time of AOL chatrooms … Haha. I met someone who taught me how to RP, and I joined a Final Fantasy VIII chatroom with my very first original character. I don’t remember his name (my OC), but I do remember he was based off the character Dart from Legend of Dragoon. At least in appearance! After that, I joined RP forums on Gaia Online.
6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?
I’ve always journaled, and I spent most of my childhood RPing. It’s just so much easier to write than it is to speak, for me, and I always found writing to be the easiest way to express myself. I loved making characters and seeing how they reacted with others in collaborative settings. I loved entering people’s worlds, whether from popular games or shows, or something original. It wasn’t until 2017 that I was convinced by a friend that my writing could actually be more than just roleplays. They introduced me to KDP/self-publishing, and I decided I would finally try to finish a story for once, because I could never finish a story until I learned about bullet outlining. I don’t RP much anymore: collaborating is much harder these days than before, but I still love all the things that held me in writing in the first place, and now that I’m making my own worlds, I feel even more empowered to write, even if it can be a lot of hard work!
7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?
I’m incredibly proud of A Bitter Drink. It is my longest work with my most complicated characters. Rowan is an absolute pain in the ass, but I love him because of his flaws. And Clover is probably my most loudly loved character of late, and that feels really good. She’s also from ABD, and she’s the complete opposite of a pain in the ass, haha, but both these characters are gems and I love them dearly.
8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?
I published my first complete story, yes: Witch in the Lighthouse. I tried many times before to finish stories, whether original work or fanfiction, but I could never seem to get past the first few chapters. I remember the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo, I was very passionate about the story, but I still had no idea how to finish it, and it floundered despite being 50k words deep. Looking back, though, that story had too many faults to count, and while there are characters who I still hold on to from it, the story I plan to use them for won’t be anything like what I had originally thought up. And that’s fine!
9. How many books/collections have you published so far?
I’ve published three books so far! Witch in the Lighthouse, The Underground, and A Bitter Drink.
10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?
I write in the fantasy genre for my books. WIL has been described as pastoral fantasy (yay!), UG is dark/urban fantasy, and ABD is high fantasy. I’ve tried writing in contemporary settings but it’s just not as fun. I do enjoy and hope to write a story in a post-apocalyptic, sort of sci-fi genre as well, and have written snippets in those settings before, but we’ll see if I ever get that out in book form.
11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?
A bit of both. My earliest books don’t have much research in them, but I’ve been doing more and more of late, especially for my current WIP: ‘Apothecary’ (placeholder name).
12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?
Oh, absolutely plan. I mean, I don’t plan every single detail: that’s too much planning, personally, but I’ve been trying to make my outlines more and more detailed. Still, no matter how much I plan, I still have plenty of revisions to make after the first draft. You can’t plan for everything! And when it comes to worldbuilding, sometimes I just don’t realize everything I’ll need until much later. And that’s very important for your plot!
13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?
I self-publish through KDP. I’ve been happy with it, and I have no plans to deviate from it.
14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)
I mean, I’m already basically a hobbit, so it’d be nice to live in the Shire, haha!
15. Do you currently have a WIP?
I have two! ‘Apothecary’ WIP and The Witch in Isenshire, which is the sequel to Witch in the Lighthouse. ‘Apothecary’ is about a doctor with anxiety in a world full of beasts, monsters, and godlike beings called Elsings. The Elsings once almost destroyed humankind 400 years ago due to human’s greed and destruction of the planet, but I’m hoping the main focus will be around Vivi (the MC) and dealing with her anxiety in a fantasy setting. There’s LGBT themes, chronic pain, trauma, etc. It’s going through extensive revisions right now, so it’s already changed quite a lot from how I’d originally envisioned it, but I hope to turn it into something powerful.
16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.
It’s really hard to choose, but one of my oldest characters that doesn’t have a book yet, and someone who I feel like I still don’t know enough: Tak Bernadette. She’s a tamurin (monkey person), and the captain of the Sun Pirates. She’s got a whole crew she’s essentially rescued from shitty situations: slavery, indentured servitude, loneliness, grief, and for some: people who just don’t have anything better to do. I love her with all my heart, and one day I’d really love to make a series with her and her found family.
17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?
Aha, well for what I’ve published: A Bitter Drink. But I feel like my story with Tak will one day be my true “magnum opus”. Maybe that’s why I still haven’t come up with a true story for her yet. I won’t rush it, though.
18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!
Patrick and Marnie are side characters in The Underground, but their marriage is really strong and I love their werewolf family.
19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.
Absolutely, it’s basically the only way I can write. Most of the music I listen to while writing is instrumental, as vocals can be distracting sometimes, but I’ve really been loving this song in particular while working on ‘Apothecary’. It’s called: ‘The Bug Collector’ by Haley Heyndrickx.
20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)
21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Write now, edit later. If you stop to edit/revise, you’ll never stop, and will likely get too frustrated to continue. And it’s okay to take breaks! But you can always, always go back and edit after the first draft is done. (Leave notes if you must!)
22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!
I did, but my piece wasn’t considered for a winning entry. There were a lot of entries!
23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?
My list is more storytellers in general than novelists, but:
Hayao Miyazaki: I love how he focuses on the little details. The art is gorgeous, of course, but he excels in storytelling as well, as seen by his manga series: Nausicaa: Valley of the Wind. His focus on strong female leads, caring for nature, compassion in general, are all endearing qualities I aspire to instill in my own work.
Eiichiro Oda (pre time-skip of One Piece, lol): I absolutely adore Oda’s backstory work of the Strawhat crew before the time skip. Very powerful, loving stuff.
Ursula K Le Guin: I just really love her Earthsea series.
Boots: Boots has a really lovely way of writing their characters and world. Every word feels so perfectly placed, nothing feels extraneous. From their short stories to their novella, I’ve only read their five stories, but I’m always ready to read more.
Wes Anderson: Maybe my love for his films are more aesthetic than anything, but Anderson’s quirky characters and offbeat stories always draw me in.
24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!
Thank you! You can find me on my website: A Forrest Writes.
My Twitter: @AForrestWrites.
And all other links over on my Bio Link!