Living Her “Dream”
May 17, 2019—Marist sophomore Erin Forbes is just 19 years old, but she’s already got three novels under her belt. Her Fire & Ice fantasy series takes place in the fictional realm of Aisling (Irish for “dream”) and follows the adventures of twin sisters, Alice and Emery, who discover their unusual connection to the elements of fire and ice. Ultimately, the girls discover a prophecy that could save Aisling from destruction. Readers follow the characters through an unforgettable journey of family, friendship, and magic. Forbes’ book series now has three volumes – The Elementals, The Lost Dreamer, and The Kindred Woods – and she has a fourth installment planned.
From all outward appearances, Forbes seems like a typical college student. Commuting to campus from her home in Red Hook, New York, she is a digital media major with a concentration in graphic design and minor in creative writing. So how did she end up leading a parallel life as a YA fantasy author? In Forbes’ case, she began young, writing her first story in kindergarten by creating illustrations in a construction paper book. At the age of 12, she got the original idea for Fire & Ice, and by the time she was 16, she had published the first installment in the series. Forbes recalls, “I was surrounded by literature from a young age, and writing was a great form of self-expression for me. I’ve always been fascinated by language—the way that it sounds and the way that it looks on paper, the way that it connects individuals. I never looked at age as an impediment on the road to following my passions.” She admired the work of C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, and L.M. Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables; both authors have informed her writing style. In addition, Forbes grew up in a family with very close ties to Ireland. She learned traditional Irish step dance, was influenced by stories from Irish folklore, and has developed near-fluency in the Irish language.
This has all been great preparation for Forbes’ career as an author. In terms of the process, she is extremely hands-on throughout, starting with the idea for a story all the way through to its arrival on bookstore shelves. In her view, “I’m my own marketer and manager.” Forbes enjoys the publishing process so much that she switched her major from English to digital media to enable her to explore a career in publication design after graduation.
Forbes’ typical book comes together like this: finish the first draft, then go through six or seven rounds of editing; send the manuscript to a panel of beta readers, who provide feedback on characters, plot holes, etc.; go through two or more rounds of editing, then share the book with her professional editing team for further review; give the book to a professional formatter to prepare it for publication; hire a graphic designer for the cover art; finally, prepare the work for printing and distribution to booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Erin Forbes at Girls World Expo in Buffalo, NY
To promote her books, Forbes engages with her audience on social media, does regular book signings, interviews, podcasts, and attends book festivals and other public events; in addition, she maintains her own website and blog. She was recently featured at Girls World Expo in Buffalo, where she taught a seminar on “Courage & the Art of Creativity” and signed copies of her book series. According to Forbes, it was an incredible experience. “Here I was 400 miles from home, and countless people were so excited to see me!” Her fan base includes readers from ages seven to 97 in countries ranging from the UK to Brazil to Australia to Russia. Forbes recalls, “I was in Rochester last year for the Teen Book Fest, and I was on a panel alongside New York Times bestselling authors that I’ve admired for years. Because I’m a young author, a lot of young girls and boys tell me that they don’t feel like they have to wait to go after their dreams. That means a lot to me.”
Back on campus, Forbes says that most people aren’t aware of her life as a novelist (“I feel a bit like Hannah Montana, living a double life!”), but she’s OK with that changing. “Eventually, I’d like to be a full-time author, supporting myself through my books. It’s my greatest passion in life. I want to share these stories with people. I want my readers to feel inspired, to close my books with a renewed sense of strength.”
More information about the Fire and Ice series can be found on Erin Forbes’ website at http://www.fireandicebookseries.com/.