I’m excited to feature another Young Adult author this week on the blog. Lani Forbes is the author of the book The Seventh Sun, which just took home the best debut in epic fantasy award at the Realm Makers conference!
Writer’s Desk with Lani Forbes
Lani Forbes is the award-winning YA author of The Seventh Sun and the 2021 release, The Jade Bones. As the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer (which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books), Lani is a one-time teacher turned psychology student. Her passion is showing readers the transformative and encouraging power of story on the human experience. She helps others process anxiety, depression, and complex PTSD, both in her stories and in real life.
A California native whose parents live in Mexico, Lani now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three young children. She is a proud nerd, stage IV cancer warrior, and member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Be sure to stick around until the end of the post for more about The Seventh Sun plus a chance to win one of two signed copies!
Q&A with Lani Forbes
Do you have a writing routine? When/Where do you write?
I wish I had a routine, but as a mother of three kids under the age of ten (including a newborn!) and a stage IV cancer warrior, having a schedule for anything isn’t really an option for me! I tend to write whenever I have the chance. I actually do most of my writing on google docs on my phone whenever I can. Standing in line at the grocery store, stuck on the couch at 2 AM with a sleeping newborn on my chest, sitting at a bench while my kids play on the playground, those are all prime writing opportunities for me. If I’m lucky, I like to try to schedule “writing dates” with writer friends to meet at coffee shops or at least on zoom for accountability.
When are you most productive?
I tend to write best when I have other writers beside me cheering me on and being available to bounce ideas off of, that’s why I love doing “write-ins” or “writing dates” with my author friends. Even just meeting on zoom and working from separate locations can be extremely helpful. There is something about the accountability and camaraderie that gets my creative juices flowing. I think creativity is contagious, so anytime I can work with other writers the better!
What do you snack on or drink while writing?
I love chocolate-covered pretzels, but specifically the ones from Trader Joe’s. They have the perfect balance of sweet and salty and just the right ratio of chocolate to pretzel! And ham and cheese croissants!
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I have several strategies, but the most helpful is getting involved with other writers. A social creature by nature, brainstorming with my critique group, or even just talking to them, always seems to help break me out of a writing funk if I’m stuck. I also love finding writing workshops or conferences, reading books about writing, anything to improve or inspire my craft can be extremely helpful too. I also love going back and watching some of my favorite movies or re-reading some of my favorite books to jumpstart my creativity and help me rediscover my love for story in general
What is your outlining process? Are you a pantser/plotter or something in between?
I am an “in-betweener”. I love plotting and studying the elements of story structure because I think it is so fascinating. I’m also a huge believer in brain science and that there are certain structures and elements to story that really maximize emotional impact on the reader, and I think that plotting allows you to make use of that to really tell the best story you can. I always have certain elements plotted out such as important worldbuilding details for fantasy, character arcs, and major critical plot points, but those things can be fluid too. If I feel I need to change any of them, I allow myself to.
I also love allowing the story to grow organically out of the characters themselves and where I feel the story emotionally leading me, but because I’ve studied structure and plotting so much, I find that I tend to naturally follow a structure when I pants. I think that’s really the best balance of both. I roughly plot, allow myself the freedom to pants, and then go back and make sure that what I pants falls into a structure of some kind in my edits.
Best advice for someone who is just starting out.
READ READ READ! It is so important to read the kind of books you want to write. It gives you an idea of the conventions for the genre specifically. It also helps you get to know what your readers expect. I am a firm believer in making sure that you keep your promises to your reader. If they come to you expecting a fantasy, make sure you give them what they are looking for. Never trick the reader, they will quickly lose faith in you and not trust you again.
I also want to encourage you to not give up. Sometimes writing and publishing can seem so scary and overwhelming and that you aren’t “good enough”. I want to shatter that lie into a million pieces. Every writer had to practice and learn and grow. Every writer (even the best of the best!) has an editor. No one is perfect, so please don’t expect yourself to be. Go into this journey with a “growth” mindset, always be looking to grow and improve your craft. Look at every roadblock and every rejection as an opportunity to learn something. And keep going, don’t let it be a brick wall that stops you in your tracks. That is the best way to be successful in this business!
What is your favorite thing to binge? I love to binge-read Victorian-era romance novels (they are a guilty pleasure of mine!)
What book(s) are you currently reading? I am currently reading Kingdom of Blood and Ash by Jennifer Armentrout
What is your favorite song right now? My favorite song is “Glory Days” by Jason Grey. It is a song I’m trying to emulate in my life right now as I fight cancer
What is your favorite thing to order at Starbucks? My favorite thing to order at Starbucks is the birthday cake cake pop! I’m weird in that I actually don’t like the taste of coffee or tea! I am a huge fruit smoothie drinker though and I love anything with bananas and blueberries.
Enter to win one of two signed copies of The Seventh Sun*
Be sure to catch the video interview with Lani Forbes on the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction page on Facebook. If you haven’t already joined, be sure to join the Avid Readers of Christian Fiction group so you don’t miss any of our other fun LIVE author chats coming up!
More about The Seventh Sun:
Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he’s now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin’s efforts, the sun is fading—and the end of the world may be at hand.
For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor’s death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.
Only one girl can become Ahkin’s bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.
Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Maya people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.
Connect with Lani Forbes
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