Sword & Silk Books is excited to welcome Lauri Starling.
Her novel, Poison Forest, is an YA LGBTQ+ Fantasy comparable to The Cursed Crown, House of Salt & Sorrows, and The Secrets of Eden.
When a mage joins up with two other teens to rescue her royal ex from a sorcerer, the traps he sets test the limits of her power and sanity.
There has been a string of disappearances in the Triumvir of Corundum. Someone is stealing royal children, and Thedra's childhood sweetheart Dette, the princess of a neighboring kingdom, is the latest to go missing.
When Thedra suspects the sorcerer she blames for her mother's death is behind Dette's disappearance, she refuses to let him harm anyone else. She sets out with the help of a dashing soldier and a secretive servant girl to find and rescue Dette before it's too late.
Thedra would do anything to stop the disappearances and save her friend--even cross a cursed forest that brings her nightmares to life. But one of her companions is hiding something, and the forest seems to want her dead. To defeat the sorcerer’s twisted magic, she must face her worst fears and risk losing what she wants most: the freedom to love who she chooses.
Lauri Starling has a degree in English and writes LGBTQ+ romance and fantasy. She is the author of three romance novels and periodically blogs about her experiences growing up in a cult in the rural South. Poison Forest is her first young adult fantasy.
She lives in Florida with her partner, their daughter, and a mischievous dog named Darcy. When she’s not writing or reading, she's probably drinking too much coffee, slinging vintage clothes, or working in her garden.
An Introductory Interview with Lauri
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up in a small farming town, thirty minutes from the nearest mall or movie theater, so I read a lot to keep myself entertained. Books saved my life and gave me somewhere safe to escape. I majored in English and became a writer so I could continue that obsession.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
I really wanted to write a retelling of a fairytale that hadn’t been done repeatedly. I love Swan Lake and the film adaptations of it, like Black Swan and The Swan Princess (one of these things is not like the other, haha). So I decided to write a queer, gender swapped retelling set in my own universe.
What is your writing process? Plotter or Pantser? Are you a morning or evening writer? What is your tried and true method for getting words on the page?
I’m a plantser. I usually plan a basic outline of the plot once I know where it’s going, but the details are definitely more free form. I have found Save the Cat! Writes a Novel to be very helpful though.
I used to write late at night but now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I need sleep. So I mostly write when my kid is at school and save the night writing for deadlines.
To be totally honest, I’m still struggling to get back into a routine after 2020 messed up my . But setting a timer and forcing myself to sit and write until it goes off has rarely steered me wrong.
Authors often impart pieces of themselves into their stories. Which character best reflects you? Do you share any personality traits with your protagonist?
It wasn’t intentional, but I am probably the most like Neev. I feel like some of the other characters underestimate her because she is gentle and soft-spoken, but of course there’s more to her than that.
Thedra is outwardly much blunter and more forceful than I am, but I can be stubborn and impulsive like she is.
What drew you to the YA genre as an author?
Reading it! Romance and YA fantasy are two genres that always make me want to push myself to be a better writer. I can sit down and devour a mystery novel with zero thought of trying my hand at it, but fantasy always has me longing to create. Writing LGBTQ+ fiction for teens also appeals to me because those books didn’t exist when I was a closeted bi teen.
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice what would it be?
Sounds cheesy, but don’t give up on your dreams so easily.