Aisling Fowler's debut Fireborn, inspired by a computer game, has just been published. Aisling's love of stories started when she was small and would read anything she could get her hands on. Often, she'd make up stories and write them down. But it wasn't until she was training as a nurse that she rediscovered her love of writing.
Aisling has lived in the UK, the US and Australia, but can be currently be found in her flat in London, in danger of being crushed by her tottering 'To Read' pile!
Fireborn: Twelve and the Frozen Forest (HarperCollins Children's Books)
30th September 2021
Look out for trolls, monsters and hidden dangers in Fireborn by Aisling Fowler. Twelve is on a quest to rescue her kidnapped friend, but she will have to face some daunting challenges; not least those that lie within. As her journey through the frozen forest unfolds, we start to discover more about the anger that drives Twelve, and the secrets she is trying to keep buried.
Reviews: "Fireborn is an exhilarating read, a sizzling adventure. Children who enjoy a story with plenty of action and the thrill of suspense will surely love it."
Read an extract from Fireborn
Aisling Fowler answers our questions about Fireborn in this Q&A:
1. What brought you into writing for children?
When I was little, I wrote a lot, but that sadly stopped when I became a teenager. I studied Biology and went on to work first as a support worker, then as a nurse. It wasn't until a friend of mine asked me to read a draft of a book she was working on that the spark to write was reignited in me. I realised I'd never stopped having ideas or dreaming of becoming an author, but I had stopped making time for it. From then, I began to write regularly again. Middle grade fantasy felt like an obvious, natural fit for me and I never questioned it.
2. Can you tell us a little about your debut, Fireborn?
I'd love to! The story follows a girl called Twelve who has given up her name in order to train at the Hunting Lodge, learning to fight the monsters that plague her world. Unbeknownst to anyone, she has an ulterior motive for being there though, one which keeps her quite separate from her fellow huntlings. But when the Lodge is attacked and a girl is kidnapped, Twelve decides to rescue her and sets off on a quest through the dangerous Fang Mountains into the Frozen Forest beyond.
3. Where and when did you write Fireborn?
The first words of Fireborn were written in November 2017 at the Skywalker Ranch in California (in case there are any Star Wars fans out there!). My husband had just got his first US-based job and I'd taken a sabbatical from nursing to go with him. We moved around quite a lot over the next couple of years and Fireborn travelled with me. Parts of it were written in LA, London and NYC. It was while I was in New York that I decided it was ready to send to agents. I thought that would be the end of Twelve's story, but it didn't quite work out like that . . .
4. Why did you decide to write a fantasy story? Is that what you enjoyed reading as a child?
It's strange actually because I don't remember ever deciding to write fantasy in the same way I don't remember deciding I'd write middle-grade rather than YA or for adults. Both just felt like a natural fit. I did love reading fantasy as a child and when I think about what my absolute favourites were, they do tend to have magic in them. That must have stayed with me and slipped into my own writing.
5. Did something you read or saw help inspire the story and the setting of the Hunting Lodge?
The first spark of Fireborn's story came to me while I was watching my husband play a computer game called Horizon Zero Dawn. The main character, Aloy, is such a brilliant heroine and I wondered why I wasn't writing character like that; girls who were strong and brave and fierce.
Almost immediately Twelve came to me. At first, all I knew was that she fought monsters with her axes and was full of a fiery anger. It was in trying to unpick where that anger came from, what had caused it, that the rest of the world, the Hunting Lodge and the clans came into being.
6. How did Twelve develop - and why did you give her a squirrel, Squidge, as a friend?
I always knew there was much more to Twelve than her anger, but that to everyone around her she would appear extremely difficult and prickly. I wanted to show readers her softer side, the one she keeps well hidden from the other people in the story. It was in trying to do that that Widge appeared in the story. I'm so happy that he did! He is so full of joy and was extremely fun to write.
7. Who is your favourite supporting character, and your favourite magical character?
This is really hard as I love all my supporting characters! If you pushed me, it would probably be Widge or Dog though. My favourite magical character would be a particular monster that Twelve meets. I won't say any more as I don't want to give away any spoilers though . . .
8. Were there parts of the story that you particularly enjoyed writing?
There were so many things I enjoyed writing! I loved creating the monsters and I really enjoyed writing the dialogue and action scenes. I knew I wanted the world beyond the Hunting Lodge to feel vivid, but I didn't want too much world-building to slow down the story. Finding that balance was a bit of a challenge.
9. How well would you cope if you found yourself at the Hunting Lodge?
I wouldn't cope well at all - I'd be terrible with the weapons and freeze up as soon as I came face to face with a monster. Honestly, I don't think the Hunters would have me!
10. Which of the seven Clans would you choose to join?
Life is lived so differently in each of the clans, but some have it much harder than others, (the cave clan and the bog clan particularly, so I'd want to stay well away from them!). I'd probably choose the river or forest clan. There are still dangerous dark creatures to contend with, but plenty of beauty and wonder too.
11. What's next for Twelve?
There are three books planned in the series. I'm working on the third story at the moment so I can say with confidence that there are plenty more adventures in store for Twelve and her friends. Without giving away too much, book 2 will see Twelve exploring her new-found powers when she receives a request for help from a very unexpected source . . .
12. What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
Reading is my favourite pastime, but I also love cooking and catching up with friends. Recently I took some pottery classes and really enjoyed that too.
13. Twelve has some fantastic adventures - what has been your biggest 'real' adventure to date?
A few years ago, I spent three months travelling through Central America. Mostly I was joined by friends but there was some time in Guatemala and Nicaragua when I was by myself. It feels quite different travelling alone; sometimes frightening, sometimes liberating but always an adventure.