A young, orphaned shapeshifter in a world that fears magic must risk everything if she hopes to save her only friend in Elayne Audrey Becker’s Forestborn, first in a new fantasy series with shapeshifters, a magical forest, and a slow-burn romance that will sweep you off your feet. Read on to see how Elayne came to write her debut novel!
I have always loved adventure sagas. Growing up, there was something about a long, trying journey, the there and back again format of classic fantasy, that I found enchanting. Doubtless due to the deep respect for nature ingrained in me from a young age, my favorites were stories like The Lord of the Rings—ones in which the land functioned almost as a character itself. In particular, as I navigated a childhood full of setbacks, what I gravitated toward the most was the courage I saw celebrated in these sagas, the determination required to persevere in the face of prolonged adversity.
These loves formed the foundation for Forestborn, my own there and back again adventure tale with one feature I wish I’d seen more often growing up: a young woman at the helm. My aim was to explore what happens when emotional damage becomes bound up in a person’s identity. To explore, not the moment of trauma, but what comes after. In keeping with my favorite stories, I chose to set this journey in a world in which the terrain and wildlife are part of the magic system rather than murky background details. So often, I’ve seen wilderness swapped for cities, both in fiction and the real world. Forestborn is a celebration of the untamed, designed to make the reader feel they are right there with protagonist Rora, her brother Helos, and Prince Weslyn, traversing an unpredictable magical landscape to secure the healing stardust no one has seen in centuries.
A phrase you may hear writers toss around is “the book of one’s heart.” Forestborn was the book I needed to write at the time I did. None of the characters are me, but I see pieces of myself in each of them—their aspirations and their pain, their hard-won resilience and thirst for adventure. The Forestborn world has magic that the real world does not, but in it, I see shades of the North American wilderness I love. I see all my favorite fantasy elements collected in one—danger and action, friendship and romance, high stakes and magic. While I hope to write many more stories in my life, perhaps few will be as quintessentially me as the one you now hold in your hands.
At its core, Forestborn is a story of hope. A journey, not to forget the pain of the past, but of learning to live in the balance. The good with the bad, the light with the dark. To come out of a difficult experience and find that strength remains, because you’re still standing. In this strange time of isolation, uncertainty, and better days on the horizon, I hope you’ll find comfort in these characters’ journeys, as well as a taste of the natural world waiting when we’re free to wander again.