LSQ: Your nature descriptions are so lovingly crafted. Do you often write about this subject? What about nature inspires you/your work?
Sylvia: Thank you! I really enjoy writing about nature and including it in my work, either as a setting, through the characters, or in other ways. Nature works a lot like magic in how it makes us feel, gifting so much beauty and wonder as well as shaping our perspective. It’s a never-ending source of inspiration for me.
I wrote this story around the same time I started birding, and have since been including a lot more nature details and birds in my stories or basing whole concepts around them. For the most part I like to stay close to my own experiences—nature and climate in the Nordic region—but when I have to do research, and you always have to do some, it’s always enjoyable. It can be challenging how to balance fact and fiction though, especially when writing fantasy.
LSQ: What were the challenges in writing two characters as different as the forestborn girl and the human narrator?
Sylvia: The characters are very different from each other, yet in many ways both of them live inside all of us. One half having a strong pull towards nature and freedom, while the other is more drawn to urban life and control. A familiar struggle.
The first inspiration for this story was an image of a woman, tree branches overlaid with her silhouette. You can take the girl out of the forest, but you can’t take the forest out of the girl. A line I might’ve included in the story, but it felt a bit too on the nose. So that’s where the forestborn character came from. A second inspiration came from wildlife. We often get hares visiting our garden, and I’ve always been fascinated by the differences and similarities between my pet rabbits and hares. Their behavior and instincts are largely the same, yet on each side of the wall they lead two completely different lives. A hare could never live in a house.
LSQ: Did this story change at all as you wrote it, or did you have a clear idea of its path from the start?
Sylvia: This story is one of those mythical rarities where it just flowed from my fingers. I came upon the image, felt inspired, had some quiet time to myself, and sat down with the goal of just freewriting something. I know, it’s annoying even to me, because I can’t make it happen again. My usual process involves quite a lot of prewriting, and I have to know the ending. I still freewrite sometimes, but the results bear little resemblance to an editable story. After I had the draft of ”Forestborn” down, I fleshed it out a little more as I tend to be an underwriter and added an ending, but didn’t change too much about what was already there. I’ve learned it’s always a good idea to make some notes when an idea strikes or you might lose it forever.
LSQ: Are there any other projects you’re currently working on? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?
Sylvia: I’m currently focusing on my speculative short fiction, from drabbles and flash fiction to short stories. I’ve got a few really exciting new pieces coming out later this year or early next year, so keep an eye out for them.