Interview with 2020 Debut Lani Forbes!

In 2019, we made it our goal is to work with as many debut authors as possible and spread the word about their debut novels. It was such a success last year that we decided to continue the fun this year as well! Follow us this year as we pick the minds of the 2020 debuts and chat with them. Also stay tuned for news of giveaways, Twitter chats and more!
At the end of 2019, we Tweeted about wanting to discover more debut authors and their books. We ended up finding Lani Forbes and her novel THE SEVENTH SUN, and we have been interested in it ever since. We are so excited to have Lani on the blog today to answer some of our questions! 

Lani Forbes

Lani Forbes is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Keep up with Lani: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook / Instagram

The Book Bratz: First of all, congratulations! How does it feel to be a debut author?
Lani: Thank you so much! It feels kind of surreal. You work so hard toward something for so long and it when it finally happens, you have a hard time believing it’s real! It’s definitely amazing getting to be a part of such a supportive and encouraging debut author community. That has probably been my favorite part, meeting other authors, both debut and experienced. Everyone’s path to publishing is so different and it’s encouraging to see that even if your path doesn’t look like someone else’s, that’s totally okay! Everyone still gets excited for you and cheers you on!
The Book Bratz: In your opinion, what is the best part of the writing process? What's the hardest?
Lani: For me, the best part of the writing process is the same reason that I love reading: losing myself in other worlds. I love getting swept up into a story and that very much happens to me when I am writing too. One of my favorite quotes about writing is by Anais Nin when she says, “I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living.” That is by far the best part of the writing process. The hardest has to be keeping all the details straight, especially all the subplots and character arcs/motivations. Consistency is so important for believability and sometimes that gets a little tricky!

The Book Bratz: Where did you get the inspiration for THE SEVENTH SUN?
Lani: I’ve always been fascinated by ancient civilizations, and ancient Mesoamerican civilizations in particular. My stepfather lived in Mexico for many years and would always share stories with my sisters and I growing up. When my parents decided to move back to Mexico, I knew I wanted to write a story based on ancient Aztec and Maya mythology. So, like a good daughter of a research librarian, I started doing research. I came across a creation myth called “The Five Suns”, where the world was created and destroyed multiple times, and it really served as the jumping off point. The rest is (ancient) history!

The Book Bratz: Who was your favorite character to write? Who was the hardest?
Lani: I will always hold a soft spot for Mayana because I relate so strongly to her empathy and stubborn refusal to accept what she’s told. I poured so much of myself into her. But I also really love Yoli, the fire princess. She has such a dry, morbid sense of humor and I had so much fun writing her. The hardest was probably Ahkin. I have a tendency to write him a little too feminine and my critique partners have to remind me that boys don’t usually talk that much haha!

The Book Bratz: How do you plan/outline such an intricate fantasy book such as this one? What are your tips and tricks?
Lani: I keep a separate document with all of my notes, but I am actually really good and keeping all the details in my head because it feels so real to me. I outline as much as I can about the rules of the magic system, the societal structure, the mythology etc. I think details and intricacies are what make a world feel so real, and they are my favorite part as a reader. They also provide wonderful opportunities for conflict and tension. My biggest inspiration is studying history itself. Actual ancient human civilizations are so inspiring because of their creativity and resourcefulness, but also because of the real problems they struggled to solve. I read textbooks, watched documentaries, even traveled to Central America to do research, and I just paid attention to every little detail I could. As far as the story itself is concerned, I always brainstorm tons of ideas and never throw any idea away. The more I have to pick from when I get stuck, the better. I actually outlined the entire series as four books, so when I got the contract for three books, I had plenty of content to choose from to condense the story. But the short answer is really: notes. LOTS of notes!

The Book Bratz: What do you hope that readers will take away from THE SEVENTH SUN?
Lani:I always struggled with spiritual and religious questions as a teen, and I just don’t see very many books tackling those important issues. I really wanted to address that frustration of wanting to ask questions but feeling trapped in a world that doesn’t allow you to. I think wrestling with doubt and questions is an important part of owning what you believe. This book is primarily a story about a young woman learning to stand firm in who she is and what she believes, no matter the consequences. She learns to follow and trust her heart because so often, it is our heart that gets us closest to the truth of things. Never be afraid to stand up for who you are and what you believe in, and always have the courage to challenge and ask questions!

The Book Bratz: Do you plan on returning to the world of THE SEVENTH SUN in the future, or do you have any other projects in mind? Can you tell us anything about them?
Lani: The Seventh Sun is actually the first in a trilogy, so we will definitely be returning in February of 2021 with “The Jade Bones” and then again in 2022 (tentatively) with ‘The Obsidian Butterfly”. I am so excited for where the story is going because some of the questions readers ask about book one get answered in books two and three. Certain love relationships are put to the test and have to learn what love really looks like, we get to know characters that we didn’t have time to learn about yet, and characters that think they hate each other may end up surprised. Plus, we get to meet new characters! I am also working on some other historical projects including a fantasy western based on mission-era California and another ancient historical fantasy based on Ancient Greece!

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Title: The Seventh Sun
Author: Lani Forbes
Publisher: Blackstone
Publication Date: February 18th, 2020

Summary: The sun of the Chicome people has been destroyed six times. First by water, then by storm, fire, famine, sickness, and beasts. After each apocalypse, the creator goddess allowed one of her divine children to sacrifice themselves to save civilization. The gods paid their blood as the price for the lives of the people, and the people owed them blood in return. Mayana is a noble descendant of the water goddess and can control water whenever her blood is spilled. She has always despised the brutal rituals of her people — especially sacrifices. She can’t even make it through a routine animal sacrifice without embarrassing her family. Prince Ahkin has always known he would be emperor, but he didn’t expect his father to die so suddenly. Now he must raise the sun in the sky each day and read the signs in the stars. But the stars now hint at impending chaos and the sun has begun setting earlier each evening. Ahkin fears he might not be strong enough to save his people from another apocalypse. And to add to his list of worries, he can’t truly become emperor until he selects a wife. Mayana and six other noble daughters are sent to the palace to compete for Ahkin’s hand. She must prove she is a true daughter of water and face the others who have their own magical gifts from wielding the elements to the control of animals, plants and healing. And in a society centered on rigid rituals, Mayana must conceal her traitorous beliefs because if she doesn’t make Ahkin love her, she will become a ceremonial sacrifice to bless his marriage. But darker forces are at play and it won’t matter if Mayana loses if the world ends first…

Thank you so much to Lani for stopping by and answering our questions! We are super excited about THE SEVENTH SUN and can't wait for it to be out in the world on February 18th

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