By Erin Forbes
It begins with words misspelled across paper notebooks, written in various shades of crayon--Pacific Blue, Sunglow, Atomic Tangerine.And I suppose it begins at the age of five, as I stand in the kindergarten classroom. Can you see that child, with the head of blonde curls, and blue eyes enthralled by fiction? She reads the book for as long as the librarian will let her take it home.
Can you imagine, that girl is me?
It begins with the wonder of the bookstore, those evenings spent between dusted shelves. My mother sits beside me, while her voice echoes the words trapped between pages. Raindrops patter against the windows, while the scent of warm coffee drifts from the café. I close my eyes and listen to the assonance. It touches the unreachable corners of the spirit, and illuminates the shadows that attempt to hide there.
Those memories remain vivid, unlike the illustrations that fade with time.
Hours pass into days, which pass into years. Ringlets take on a different shade, though blue eyes and wonder remain unchanged. Spare notebooks fill with stories, which form mountains against the wall. The stout works of fiction are derived from the melodramatic life of an eleven-year-old girl. Even so, not a word is wasted.
The next tale arrives.
Like a moth, it must be caught before it soars out of reach. My fingertips glide across the board of letters. I pause to read it aloud, to tap on the desktop and listen for the song. It collects on the pages of an enchanting novella, on the promise of a newfound adventure.
Soon enough, there is a proper tale before me. New characters rise with brilliance, prepared to gather the chapters in their arms. A realm of fiction forms in the imagination, built between the castles and forests of the mind.
It claims a separate chamber, a bright place that shelters from the danger. The words climb like vines, forming arches of plot and crowns of devices. A piece of my soul seeps through the ink, to separate and infuse into the spirit of each character. Each one grows like an untamable rose, hidden in the secret garden of the mind. I close my eyes and find myself standing there, amid the castles and foggy air. This land has formed from the heart of a young girl, from the depths of her imagination. I find the courage to share it with the world, to accept the wings it has given me.
Eight years have passed. A pair of novels rest beside me, while the next formats behind a screen. The words pour out in black ink, in unconventional lines of script. I like to believe nothing has changed.
The tale is rooted in my soul, like a wild notion down the rabbit hole. It does not sort itself out in there, so it escapes with a whisper and stamps down on the paper. I feel each letter swell within me, until the scene demands to be written out. I can understand it there, make sense of all the wildness, and find meaning in each tangled piece.
Readers delight and interviewers inquire, “What was it that left you inspired?”
To tell the truth, the blame rests on her—that little girl on the carpeted floor. She has always been one to muse over things, to dream of the everlasting. She placed the words on the tip of my tongue.
Like an artist paints the vision before them, the author writes to breathe life into words. How it would suffocate to keep it all inside! I write with the hope of capturing life, love, and nature—three of the greatest treasures—in a few short sentences. I write to dream, to muse, to understand, and I write to share it all with the world.
Although I know I’ll always be writing for her.
The Art of Autumn
By Erin Forbes
Autumn days pass in a manner of haste.
A warm cup of tea, a pair of chilled hands,
She buttons the parka around her waist.
And her hair curls in ringlets as she stands.
Rain falls in droplets across the sidewalk.
It collects in puddles of reflection.
Polka dot umbrellas and rubber mucks,
Without an old compass for direction.
Leaves glide over the winds of October,
Before falling into the puddled streets,
Where strangers saunter into dark rovers,
Trampling the artwork with tired feet.
Can you see the mosaic? Look here, now!
Fallen from the golden and scarlet boughs.
Is mise Éirinn. Can you hear the forgotten language that hides under my tongue? I am Ireland.
Few people understand the second voice, the foreign words that link between the spirit and soul. Do you see the traces of gold and emerald that run under my skin? There is certain kind of paleness that exposes these veins to the light. And I suppose my grandmother can take the blame, for there are few traits she did not pass down to me.
My parents named their youngest daughter after the emerald land across the sea. Despite our large size, and the miles of ocean that separate our dwelling places, our extended clan has always been close. While letters and photographs keep our thoughts scattered between two countries, we are connected through the heritage that runs through the streams of our blood.
Memories of my childhood remain vivid, each moment gleaming like a sun-drenched field of green. I want to bottle it up, and keep it in a silver locket around my neck, and never forget all of the traditions and turning points that formed so much of my character. Even before my life began, so much was decided for me—as it was for the rest of my clan.
The moments and memories spread out in a timeline before me, always beginning with the difficult decision of a seventeen-year-old girl on the coast of Ireland. What sort of courage does it take for one to leave their childhood behind, across 3,059 miles of ocean? I’ll never know for sure, even while my grandmother attempts to share it with me. There was a point when she thought the cargo ship might not reach the shores of New York. Even so, if she had not been brave enough to take the risk, so much would be different.
And many years after her voyage, I rest on the carpeted floor of her cottage. I listen to the murmur of her voice as she counts the stitches of her knitting in the language of that land. During the routine car rides to the school of Irish dance, she plays the cassette tapes of her favorite jigs and reels. Whilst friends marvel at the lilt of her brogue, I tilt my head in confusion, for it does not sound so strange to me.
Perhaps the woman planned it, the way her passion for the culture swept over her descendants. The mere thought of her famous soda bread brings a warm scent along with it. Those cable knit sweaters and steaming cups of tea are more than defining features. Those tales of folklore are not so fictional after all, as the faeries and knights give honorable ambition to the people of Ireland. Those ancient prayers and glorious hymns bind together, reminding me to keep my eyes focused beyond the stars.
At the age of thirteen, that Gaelic language begins to find a home in me. It is a familiar tongue that hides between the cracks in the sidewalk. It becomes a sort of rare and secret code, between the true members of the Irish-American discourse. Is it possible to grow between two separate discourses, whilst blending them into one? My culture learns to flourish in the space where flowers grow between the concrete.
People will continue to pester my parents--mo thuismitheoirí—with words that burn in ignorance. Some will never understand the value of such connection to the human soul. Those friends cannot hear the music that flows as Gaeilge, or see the translations that bring renewed meaning. “You must teach your children a useful language—like Spanish or French!”
What could I do with such knowledge?
Travel the world, perhaps. And those strange words would never bring me back home—back to the land of my people.
I follow my passions, despite it all. Tá Gaeilge agam.
Fleeting traces and lasting themes seep through in the form of cursive ink—words of wit, lines of prose. It appears in the names of characters, pronounced unlike anything the average man has read before. It is found in the allusions to age-old tales, in the collection of novels that line the walls of my room.
I board a red-nosed plane in the beginning of summer, to reunite with cousins and learn some more. It carries me across the sea, to the place that makes me hesitate before each flight back. A piece of my soul hides in these craggy fields, like a faerie searching for lost magic. It hums the song of the honeybees that glide through the glade, spreading pollen across the everlasting meadows. A forgotten tale is nestled in the crevice between every stone. It speaks of a vibrant and immortal heritage, the blood of clans spread across seas.
As a young girl, I learned the meaning of my name, and few children beheld their signature with such pride. "Éirinn go Brách," my mother spoke to me, "you are named after the emerald land across the sea; the birthplace of your grandmother, the true home of your family, under the sun that gave your fair eyes and freckled skin."
All this is true, and it becomes a part of me.
The extra space in my library disappears with time. Devoted to the land of saints and scholars, it fills with the works of Lewis, Heaney, and Yeats.
I stand here on the seaside now, smiling against the gentle rain. A wild love brought me to this place, and it will bring me back soon enough. A castle stands behind me, as old and ancient as time can tell. I've lost something within it, whilst searching for something else. An old language rests on the tip of my tongue. It survives in pockets across the raging sea, and thrives nevertheless.
~ Erin E. Forbes
(an essay dedicated to my culture)
I am from a little village—a place not too close or too far from Manhattan. It’s a small town, a hipster sort of place, which the city-dwellers migrate toward on the weekends. Artisan cafés, antique barns, and boutiques hide behind the windows of colorful storefronts. There is an overabundance of coffee shops, each one suitable for a different person or mood. The weekenders frustrate a lot of the locals, while others find pride and entertainment in the art of recognizing these foreign characters in public.
My house can be found on a rural, winding road, which does not boast a single row of center lines. My father always complains about this, since the tourists never remain on the proper side of the street. Horses and cows are scattered between the pastures, while red foxes hide in the bushes beside the flood drains. It is a perfect place to remain—not too far from civilization, but far enough for the peace that comes with distance.
An old tree stands on the edge of the meadow, which holds my house in the palm of its hand. Its branches reach toward the field of clover, like a person who wishes to dance in the sunlight of the open space. I’m not sure what type of tree it is—the bark is quite rough, and salamanders like to hide between the roots. Even before the sage-colored house was built on the top of the hill, the tree reached out with arms of welcome.
I wander down there at least once a week now, on foot or the back of my chestnut mare. I can never manage to pull myself up into the branches, without hanging like an animal with my arms wrapped around the trunk. It was crowned “the sloth tree” for this very reason, much to the wit and amusement of my brother.
In the midst of rural countryside, it has become a sort of gathering place, where friends meet under the light of the afternoon. Even when no one stands under the branches, I swear the laughter remains, with the faint scent of daisies and whisper of autumn.
(a bit of work from my creative writing course)
~ Erin E. Forbes
Their smiles—two things that have never changed, not even with the dimples and wrinkles that came and went as the years passed. My grandmother is there on the right, hanging off the edge of a transportation bus on the streets of the Bronx. That pendant of the Holy Mother is slung around her neck, as it has been since the time of her mother’s death. She is wearing that watch, the same golden one that she purchased time and time again, as one broke and the other replaced it.
One of her brothers stand in the doorway, posing after a day of driving through the traffic of the city. His face looks the same to me in every photograph. With that distinct grin, you can almost hear the sound of his Irish brogue, the whistle of a reel between his false teeth.
Their smiles shine like the sun between the rainclouds of an Irish evening. I want to bottle it up and keep it in a locket, as though the photograph isn’t enough to sustain me. Are they laughing over a line of my great-uncle’s humor? It doesn’t matter, really—one can imagine the moment in countless ways. All that matters is the happiness in their eyes, the knowledge that their lives transformed, as both found peace on foreign land.
This photograph was captured several years after their emigration from the emerald land across the sea. My grandmother appears to be older than the wide-eyed seventeen-year-old who stepped aboard that rusted ship. Nevertheless, there are dreams in her gaze, for life did not end after her first grand adventure. Where does she stand in this moment of her life? Perhaps this depends on her age, which remains uncertain to me. She continued to live with a wild spirit, moving upstate and raising my mother in a house beside the lake.
When I look at their smiles, something turns within my spirit, lifting me out of the moment. I have memorized the chapters of their stories, the tale of their lives. Their decisions formed the hope of my existence, while their culture formed that of my own heart.
I wonder about the photographer, the one who privileged me with this image. Perhaps it was a stranger passing between the apartments of McLean Avenue, or the leprechaunish face of their youngest brother.
Decades have passed, and their smiles haven’t changed, though one has passed into the next life. My grandmother laughs whenever she sees this photograph, remembering the moment like it was not so long ago.
(a rough bit of work from creative writing class.)
~ Erin E. Forbes
Full Name - Ariadne Jane Moss
Gift - Wind
Birthday - October 31st, 1999
Parents - Montgomery and Jane Moss
Tears glistened like fresh rain upon Ariadne’s face. Her eyes were a cloudy shade of gray, and her nose was dotted with faded freckles. A small bundle of fur rested gently in the crook of her elbow.
- Erin Forbes, Fire & Ice: The Elementals
First impressions are not always an accurate representation, and Gifted readers have learned this from the headstrong and stubborn character of Ariadne Moss. Upon her first appearance in the Fire & Ice book series, the wind-gifted girl suffers depression under the disappearance of her classmate. This scene of introduction sets the tale into motion. Amidst the flowering roses of the courtyard, Ariadne forages a valuable friendship with the Hanley sisters.
There are few characters with such determination, which she displays throughout the pages of the series. Her inner strength never fails to inspire young readers; for this reason, she is often chosen as a favorite in the cast of characters.
Although she does not claim the main role, Ariadne Moss has an enchanting tale of her own. So, what makes readers fall in love with her? In this blog post, we shall muse over the life of one brave little girl, who grew into an extraordinary young woman.
A young girl trailed behind her, skipping through the autumn leaves as her short brown hair blew wildly in the breeze. With every step the young girl took, a trail of miniature wind spirals twirled in her wake. Each footstep swept away the fallen leaves in a curious golden vortex. Her lightly freckled face was home to a pixie-like nose and familiar pair of gray eyes.
- Erin Forbes, Fire & Ice: The Elementals
Ariadne Moss is the only daughter born into a well-known clan of shopkeepers in the village of Willowcrest. She was raised behind the counter of her father's famous store, where she learned the names of countless herbs and common crystals. Her love for literature developed at a young age, when she first climbed the spiral staircase into the libraries of the Moss Shop. At the age of eight, three years after discovering her unusual connection to the autumn wind, she was enrolled in the Academy for Gifted Youth. Behind the castle walls, she befriended Juniper Stone, a curious girl who taught her about the value of wonder and imagination. It was not long before a certain pair of twins entered her life, and everything changed.
She always speaks her mind.
Her name is Lydia Ludwig,” said Killian. “She lives in a small cottage in the village of Willowcrest. I have been told the old woman was a childhood friend of Orinthia Hanley.”
As expected, this year has brought so many changes. My writing career is beginning to remind me of the rain that falls through the warm summer skies. Although some people regard the weather with a sigh, retiring from the necessary work in the garden, others will glance up and smile, allowing the raindrops to stream down their cheeks. The earth is nourishing the flowers that have been planted. Despite my tendency to cling to the familiar elements in life, my work continues to bloom in sunlight and rain. As new trials stand before me, I climb the walls with determination, knowing that I have the power to set my own limits.
As a young woman and authoress, I have learned to find inspiration in many places. Although fictional literature gives life to the enchanted and surreal, it contains powerful messages and traces of ordinary life. My writing style captures the details and beauty of humans and the natural world, as much of my childhood was spent in the outdoors. As I recently wrote in the upcoming third installment of my book series, “the pen provides a pathway for the musings of the heart.”
When considering my future, both in academics and authorship, images of new pathways and adventures enter my mind. More than once in my lifetime, I have found myself standing before two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I have continued to walk the road less traveled. In the words of Robert Frost, “that has made all the difference.”
The girl behind the Gifted,
Erin E. Forbes
Some are known to you,
While others dwell inside my mind,
Like secrets of the blue.
My passion has always been encouraged by a marvelous collection of dreams. These hopeful visions leak through my words, shining like diamonds in the deepest sea.
Throughout my childhood, the goal of becoming a published author was the brightest star in my imagination. Like many little girls, I cherished friends, fairies, and the color pink; however, I was not a fine example of the average child... I found role models in the characters of Lucy Pevensie, Anne Shirley, Alice Kingsleigh, and Luna Lovegood. I passed hours with my nose between the pages of books, and I found kindred spirits between eternal lines of ink. My emotions were fragile, but my defense swung like a sword. Doubt seldom burdened my mind, as the realm of endless possibilities found a precious place in my heart.
This mindset led the way to my success as a teenage author, and it carried me through times of struggle. Today, it pushes me to reach for the luminous future, and it allows my imagination to form vivid works of fiction.
Although sensitivity has developed a negative reputation in society, it deserves to be recognized as a positive trait, an attribute that brings forth compassion, artwork, beauty, and change. There is a difference between gentleness and weakness, and many people have been foolish enough to deny such a truth.
If anyone ever tells you to forget about your wildest dreams, close your eyes and find the courage to listen to your heart. In the words of C.S. Lewis, "there are far better things ahead than anything we leave behind."
The girl behind the Gifted,
Erin E. Forbes
Gift - Nature
Birthday - October 31st
Parents - Darragh Stone and Aoife Holloway-Stone
Although I had not known Juniper for very long, it quickly became evident that her mind was an enchanted forest. She spoke words that radiated wonder and fascination, and she lived with an innocent freedom many people envied.
Surrounded by moss and long green vines, Juniper slept with her eyes gently closed. Her skin was pale and her dress was torn, but an intricate wildflower crown wove around the top of her golden-brown hair.
Who is Juniper Stone?
Juniper wakes from a strange sleep in the White Birch Forest, unaware of her location and the peculiar turn of events. Even so, it quickly becomes apparent that she is wise beyond her years.
She is the Last Elemental.
Here are a few lovely facts about Juniper Stone:
She's an old soul
All living things have the ability to flourish when they are tended with gentle hands.
She is fiercely loyal
Juniper Stone stands beside her friends in times of trial. She lives with an open mind, and her actions are guided by the deep morals in her heart. Her whimsical disposition and unapologetic attitude form the basis of her character. She learns to regard every creature with an admirable sense of humanity and compassion, and she seeks to understand her Gifted companions.
For this reason, she develops a strong bond with her fellow Elementals.
She despises Cleo Lennox
Juniper's whimsy is equal to her intelligence, and this trait gives her the ability to perceive the dark intentions of the Lennox clan. Throughout the Fire & Ice book series, she demonstrates her ability to read the character of simple strangers.
One might blame her wide eyes for her observant personality.
She regards her Gift as a friend
'The trees do not hesitate to tell me about the strange things they have observed,' responded Juniper.
Unlike so many, the curious girl does not seek to control the element of nature. She prefers to have a conversation with her Gift, requesting nothing more than answers to her careful wishes.
She comes from a large family
The Stone residence was a remarkable place. The crimson door gave entrance to a large house. Paintings and portraits of wild-haired people decorated the walls. There was no doubt these individuals were the relatives of Juniper Stone.
In the year of 2017, my creativity and imagination carried through to my actions. Exploration and adventure governed so much of my time, yet every moment was experienced with a sort of restless freedom. My career as a teen author has allowed my heart to shine through my character, which was once shy and hidden from the world. The realm of Aisling continues to expand with brilliance, and it doesn't care to slow down any time soon.
I have grown to know so many wonderful authors in the past year! Believe it or not, there is a little community of talented teen authors in our world. Together, we have shared advice, encouragement, and support. One might consider it impossible to forget about such a remarkable group of people.
All of my hard work in high school has allowed me to graduate a semester early; therefore, I'm officially a member of the class of 2017. I've managed to graduate with a great load of college credits, which will be helpful when I attend university in the fall.
Perhaps most importantly, I have found the courage to truly pursue my calling.
As my writing continues with the third installment in the Fire & Ice book series, I look forward to the future of my author career and the many opportunities and experiences of the new year. My heart is beaming with faith, happiness, and excitement.
Thanks for sticking around!
A Few Highlights from 2017
Erin Forbes is the young author of the Fire & Ice book series. When she was sixteen years old, she published the first installment in the
Fire & Ice Book Series.
In her spare time, she enjoys art, nature, dance, horses, cats, and peppermint tea.