Thank you so much to Xpresso Tours for introducing me to April Henry, the author of the new book Eyes of the Forest. This is one of my favorite books of the summer and I am so excited to get to share an exclusive interview with the author.
But before you get to read the super fun interview, let’s take a look at the book…
Eyes of the Forest
Published by: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: August 24th 2021
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
After a bestselling fantasy writer disappears, only his biggest fan believes he’s in danger. Instead of re-reading his books, she must venture into the real world to uncover the truth in this fast-paced mystery by New York Times-bestselling author April Henry. For readers of Courtney Summers and Karen McManus.
Bridget is RM Haldon’s biggest fan. She and her mom sought refuge in Haldron’s epic fantasy series Swords and Shadows while her mom was losing her battle with cancer. When Bridget met Haldon at one of his rare book signings, she impressed the author with her encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy world he’d created. Bridget has been working for him ever since as he attempts to write the final book in his blockbuster sword and sorcery series. But Haldon has gone missing, and Bridget is the only person who seems concerned. Can Bridget piece together Haldon’s cryptic clues and save him before it’s too late?
Master mystery-writer April Henry weaves another heart-stopping young adult thriller in this story that seamlessly blends suspense with an exploration of fan culture.
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April Henry is the New York Times bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels Girl, Stolen; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award; The Night She Disappeared; and Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, Books One and Two in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.
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And now, a Books, Tea, Healthy Me exclusive interview with April Henry
I had such a great time reading your book! What was your inspiration? While I was reading, I kept imagining a certain fantasy author who I feel “owes” me a book. Did you have a specific author or series in mind?
If you twist my arm, I’ll admit that one author I was thinking of was George RR Martin (although Patrick Rothfuss is also known for being late with a much-anticipated book in a series). A couple of years ago, I actually had the opportunity to meet George at a writers’ conference.
What was the most fun part of the writing process for you?
One of my characters is a blocked writer who ultimately ends up writing both good and bad versions of the same book. I’ve always enjoyed books within a book (like Jennifer Egan’s The Keep), so it was a pleasure to do it myself – twice! I loved exploring how to be a better writer, and what makes good writing.
I’m just starting something like my 30th book, but to be honest I find that the more I know the more paralyzed I become. Back in the beginning of my career (which at that point was only a wish), I used to just start typing words on a page, not really knowing where it was going or thinking about it in advance. Now I find myself endlessly considering the merits of first person versus third, who the viewpoint character(s) should be, or if the book should be told in present or past tense. What should the first scene be? How about that all-important first sentence? Can I have an unexpected twist? A ticking clock?
And then I freeze.
But writing Eyes of the Forest helped me remember the sheer fun of letting yourself fall down the rabbit hole of your book idea without knowing how or even if you will get out.
Was there anything you struggled with during the creation of the book?
The character of Derrick took several drafts to get right. He’s obsessed with both the fictional Swords and Shadows series and a fictional LARP based on the series. I spent a lot of time learning about LARPing as well as attending a few Society for Creative Anachronism events. That was a whole new world for me. One of my favorite things about writing is learning something new.
What is your favorite fantasy book series?
Game of Thrones, of course! And Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga is fantastic – a mashup of martial arts and fantasy.
What book are you reading right now?
Razorblade Tears by SA Cosby. I loved Blacktop Wasteland. He does cinematic set pieces so well – you can practically see it playing on the movie screen in your head. I was fortunate enough to see him at a Zoom book event during the pandemic. He is engaging and funny and so very smart.
What do you do to keep yourself healthy? Any tips or tricks you can share?
At 62, I do everything I can. The summer of 2020, I got surprised by a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation. After having surgery cancelled twice, I finally had it fixed (hopefully) in March of this year. I’m now off all medication and so far, so good.
I run, do body weight exercises, eat mostly unprocessed foods, and most importantly, do Brazilian jiu jitsu five days a week. (Our entire gym is vaccinated) It’s like they say, if you do what you love, you’ll never work for a living. Only in my case it’s exercise. I never have to talk myself into going to class.
Brazilian jiu jitsu is a lot like wrestling. I got into it almost accidentally. I had done other martial arts like kajukenbo and kung fu. I had to learn some “ground work” to progress in kung fu, but initially I thought it was weird and way too personal. But then somehow I fell in love with it. Now I have a blue belt and at 62, I am the oldest at my gym. I teach a women’s class once a week. It’s a very empowering sport for women, especially after I show them how to choke a guy with his own shirt.
Do you have a favorite healthy recipe? Willing to share?
This one is great because it uses a lot of pantry/fridge staples. I sometimes add diced onion, frozen artichoke hearts, and/or more red pepper. I’m sure there are other things you could throw in as well.
Instant Pot Fish Italian-Style
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Method: Instant Pot
1/4 cup water
4 frozen white fish fillets, about 3-4 oz. each (I make it with cod)
12 cherry tomatoes (I use more)
12-14 kalmata olives
2 tablespoons marinated baby capers
1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
A pinch of chili flakes
Garnish: chopped fresh parsley or basil (optional)
How do you take your tea?
I do not. I’m a coffee person through and through. I hope you’ll forgive me!
I do forgive you!
Thanks so much to April Henry for being a part of Books, Tea, Healthy Me today! This was fun!!
Giveaway! Enter to win a print copy of Eyes of the Forest!