The Changeling of Fenlen Forest Blog Tour with Giveaway :)

Elizabeth thinks she knows the gloomy Fenlen Forest. But when her treasured unicorn fawn, Sida, goes missing, Elizabeth tracks her into a strange land where the people think Elizabeth is a changeling, a malignant being who too closely resembles a missing girl.

If Elizabeth can find her fawn and uncover the fate of her lost double, can she stop the fear from turning into hate? To solve the deepening mystery, Elizabeth befriends a handsome, skeptical young shepherd whose stories hint at a dark secret lurking at the forest’s edge, and follows a herd of wild unicorns with the ability to unlock the past.

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Katherine Magyarody grew up in Toronto, Ontario. During graduate school, she researched the history of adolescence, taught children’s literature, and wrote fiction on the sly. Her debut short story, “Goldhawk,” is anthologized in PEN America Best Debut Short Stories 2017. She currently lives in Connecticut, where she blogs about interesting and weird unicorns at

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What inspired you to write your first book? 
I wrote The Changeling of Fenlen Forest because I love unicorns. I wanted to write a book that respected unicorns as powerful, independent, elusive creatures, rather than as rainbow-maned sidekicks. (Can you tell I grew up watching The Last Unicorn?)

In my main character Elizabeth, I wanted to create a heroine who wasn’t just navigating unicorns’ species-otherness, but also have her use what she learns about unicorn-otherness to think through her relationships with other humans. There has to be silence between a human and a unicorn…but there are also silences between humans that Elizabeth has to read into.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
I like to create structure for my working day to balance out the chaos of creativity. If I am waiting for inspiration to strike, I’ll read up on something that will be useful for the setting or the mythology of my story-world.

In terms of prose-style, I think there’s always a tension between moving the plot forward in action or dialogue and letting readers look around at the physical world that shapes characters’ reactions and perceptions.

How did you come up with the title? 
Haha…I didn’t! My original title was Elizabeth, Missing. But the editor at Great Plains wisely convinced me to go for something more overtly fantasy-sounding.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
I want readers to be able to choose what they want from the book. Maybe for one person, it’s about a girl and her unicorn, both growing up and learning the boundaries of friendship. For another it’s about sisterhood in different forms. For another, it might be about how nature and animals exist alongside humans but are never subservient to our plans. For another, it might be to grab a map when they go out hiking!

How much of the book is realistic? 
Although The Changeling of Fenlen Forest is technically fantasy, I wanted the unicorns to resemble a biologically possible species. As for the human world, a lot of the emotions and situations come from things I’ve observed in real life.

For the human part of the novel, I wanted to represent situations where families need to stick together to survive economically, even if that causes a huge amount of emotional stress. Elizabeth and her mother have a business partnership: she finds unicorn horns and her mother sells them. The family Elizabeth finds on the other side of the forest has a much more complicated arrangement of farming sheep, weaving and selling cloth. For some people, this arrangement is very comfortable; for others, it’s horrible. Elizabeth and the young people she meets all have to figure out where they stand with relation to their families…and what that means for their well-being individually and communally.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? 
Elizabeth’s half-sister Sarai is based on a few girls who were born in the middle of big families. Like them, she is very scrappy and determined. She suffers no fools.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
A partial list in order of reading:
The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
The Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander
Emily of New Moon by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Guests of War trilogy by Kit Pearson
Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Pál Utcai Fiúk/The Paul Street Boys by Ferenc Molnár (This story of two gangs of boys at the turn of the century deserves a new English translation. It’s brilliant and totally right for this moment in its critical and compassionate view of children’s cliques during times of heightened nationalism)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (I read this when I was in Grade 5 and hated it until I reread it in university)
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Kim by Rudyard Kipling
Maus by Art Spiegelman
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson
Skim and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
Charlotte Brontë! Though I don’t think she feels a spiritual kinship with me. I love that the Brontë sisters wrote fanfiction and fantasy that was meant just for themselves. I love that they were both fiercely individual and emotionally interdependent. I love that Charlotte Brontë was both fiercely romantic and brutally pragmatic.

What book are you reading now? 
I just finished rereading The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander and I’m currently trying to find my next book. I’m wavering between Space Unicorn Blues by T.J. Berry, On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan and The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? 
I loved When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, which came out last year.

What are your current projects? 
If I tell you, it will jinx them! But broadly, a YA medieval adaption of the Bluebeard fairy-tale and a YA murder-mystery set during the fall of the Roman Empire.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. 
The library. I love libraries.

Do you see writing as a career? 
Most people often are writing as well as doing something else. I wrote my first two manuscripts while working on a PhD. Balancing writing and something else makes sure the writer is in conversation with other people or other things. For me, working on academic stuff or being an editorial assistant helped me from burning out.

Writing is a career because it’s something that I am constantly working on and – let’s not forget – because writing exists within a larger context of readers, professional organizations and economic factors.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
I am very happy with The Changeling of Fenlen Forest. If I were a strictly business-oriented person, I would have written it for a younger audience to fit trends of unicorn marketing. But then it would be a different book.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? 
I was intensely unhappy at school and getting lost in a book was one of the only ways I could escape. Also, writing is socially legitimated day-dreaming!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
It’s a challenge to simmer a story down to its most concentrated form. I know a lot more about the world of The Changeling of Fenlen Forest than I could include.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? 
Dianna Wynne Jones and Charlotte Brontë. They have big hearts but they can also be super snarky. They are both in love with fantasy worlds and incredibly practical.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? 
I didn’t travel to do research, but the travelling I did informed my perspective and my writing.

Who designed the covers? 
The lovely graphic designers at Great Plains. I tried to draw a cover design for fun and it was awful!

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
Cutting out all the parts about sheep herding and weaving and wool dyeing! I did so much research that ultimately didn’t move the plot forward…tragedy!

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? 
There are two types of people in this world: people who love unicorns and those weirdos who don’t.

Do you have any advice for other writers? 
  1. Focus on finishing something. Don’t worry too much about publishers or agents or writing competitions until you have a beginning, middle, and end that you absolutely love.
  2. Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, feel comfortable with editing it, which could mean cutting out fifty pages, adding fifty pages, or rewriting to focus on another character.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Hello reader!

Do you like wild unicorns, bittersweet romance, and creepy superstitions? If you do, I hope you will enjoy The Changeling of Fenlen Forest!

In The Changeling of Fenlen Forest, you’ll meet Elizabeth, a girl who has grown up in the shadow of eerie Fenlen Forest, scratching out a living by scavenging for unicorn horns and caring for the herd of elusive magical creatures. But when Elizabeth is seventeen, her beloved fawn, Sida, goes missing. While searching for Sida, Elizabeth loses her way. She stumbles upon a young man, Torun, who fears she is a ghost…or a changeling who has stolen the form of his missing beloved, Bettina. Elizabeth needs Torun to help her find Sida and her path home. But when the Elizabeth and Torun find Sida, the fawn has already taken up with a new, mysterious herd of unicorns. The longer Elizabeth takes to coax Sida away from the herd, the more she becomes enamored in Torun and embroiled in his family’s superstitions. Are the disappearance of the unicorn fawn and the missing girl related? If Elizabeth can solve the mystery, she might be able to save the unicorns, Bettina, and herself.
Whether you’re in the mood for suspense, romance, or the care of magical creatures, The Changeling of Fenlen Forest is the book for you. This is a book to savour and reread, because the mystery unfolds to the very last page.
Ps. If you like unicorns who are weird or complicated or strange, I run a blog about interesting unicorns in art and literature at

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
Market trends will affect who is willing to publish your book, so you have to know when you’re willing to bend and when you are not. People kept on telling me that unicorns are for middle grade readers because of all these unicorn products marketed at girls aged 0-12. But Peter S. Beagle’s classic The Last Unicorn is an amazing book and it speaks to an audience that bridges older kids, teens, and adults. So does my novel, The Changeling of Fenlen Forest. It’s only through making stories that are different that we can make a difference. I went for an independent publisher because they would let me tell my story my way.

Do you ever experience writer's block? 
I experience times when I’m not ready to be writing fiction because I’m intellectually or emotionally tired. So, I do other things, like plug away at an academic article or volunteer or cook or plan a camping trip.

Do you write an outline before every book you write? 
No, but writing without an outline is more painful. With an outline, I can bounce around the plot and write a section I’m interested in at that particular moment.

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 
Sure! Growing as a person means that you don’t always agree with your past self. Reading old high school stories and essays is very humbling. It proves to me how much I can improve as a writer!

What is your favourite theme/genre to write about? 
I’m constantly trying to figure that out. I expect it will change with each thing I finish writing.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?
To write from a character’s voice, you have to be in their head. I definitely had conversations with myself where I was both Elizabeth and her mother, or Elizabeth and her love interest, Torun.

What are your expectations for the book?
I hope that people find themselves surprised by how much they enjoy it. The Changeling of Fenlen Forest is a book about unicorns, and I think the unicorn parts are amazing. But there’s also a lot more going on, too!

What is your favorite genre of book that you read?
Hmmm…that’s a hard question. I go through different phases. I love fantasy and folk-tale adaptations with heroines who are plucky but grounded, by authors like Dianna Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley, and Garth Nix. I also love stories where characters have to navigate between different cultural identities: In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen and Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol both made me laugh and wince in recognition.

When it’s time to give YA and children’s lit a rest, I also enjoy reading Victorian fiction, pop history like Michael Palin’s Erebus: The Story of a Ship and historical fiction like Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black. I also enjoy literary criticism like Talia Schaffer’s Romance’s Rivals: Familiar Marriage in Victorian Fiction, which sets up the premise for every single rom com you’ve ever read or watched. I also try to read something in Hungarian every year.

Giveaway Details:
  • Two (2) winners will receive a physical copy of Changeling of Fenlen Forest by Katherine Magyarody (INT)


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