Think back to your junior year of high school. You might cringe, hoping to someday forget the days of SATs, prom dates, and college prep, but for 17-year-old Rhinebeck resident Erin Forbes, this is a year she’ll want to remember.
She became a published author, debuting her young adult fantasy fiction novel, Fire & Ice: The Elementals. It tells the story of Alice and Emery Hanley, twin sisters who discover that they’re a part of a secret society dubbed, “The Gifted.” The two are sent away to Aisling, an enchanted realm where every person is born with a unique, magical power. But upon the disappearance of a fellow student at the Academy for Gifted Youth, they discover a prophecy that could save the land from a terrible fate, and their lives are forever changed.
Her inspiration behind the fantasy setting? The Hudson Valley, of course. “While growing up here, I was surrounded by magnificent forests, open fields, and interesting people,” says Forbes. She began writing the story at the age of 12, though it wasn’t published until four years later – just a few weeks before her seventeenth birthday. Along the way, Forbes sought advice from local authors to better understand the process of publishing a book and the industry as a whole. With their guidance, she created a website and trailer for her book (below).
Instead of going through a large-scale publishing house, Forbes decided to self-publish her novel through Amazon Publishing. “I knew that this was the best option for me,” says Forbes. “It gave me the control that I needed throughout the entire journey.” Before long, she had the first copy of her book in hand, and armed with cameras, her parents documented the moment.
Along with her writing career, Forbes balances school and hobbies like horseback riding, Irish dance, and spending time outdoors. She’s homeschooled – and has been since she was in the third grade – now taking both high school and college classes through the Bard College BRIDGES Program, which allows high school students to get a head start on undergraduate curriculum. Though Forbes credits homeschooling for the flexibility in her schedule, her average day is busy. She designates much of the morning to schoolwork and assignments, followed by a short break for horseback riding, studying, and given time, reading or writing.
And despite dealing with a hectic student schedule (not to mention other regular teenage struggles), Forbes says that her age hasn’t inhibited her from accomplishing her writing aspirations. “I never viewed my age as an impediment to achieving my dream of publishing a novel,” she says. “I don’t think that any individual should allow their age to be a barrier on the path to achieving their dreams.”
Forbes currently has a second book in the Fire & Ice series underway, and will be making appearances at upcoming author events like book signings and the Warwick Literary Festival. You can meet her next on April 7 at Poughkeepsie’s The Ugly Mug Coffee Shop, where Forbes encourages fans to come ready to discuss their favorite characters and parts of the story.