Rising YA sci-fi and fantasy author Lani Forbes died on February 3 in Boise, Idaho, following a nine-month battle with neuroendocrine cancer. She was 35.
Forbes was born May 6, 1987, in Huntington Beach, Calif., to “a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer,” she wrote on her website, noting that her lineage surely helped explain her “passionate love of the ocean and books.” She graduated from
Hope International University in Fullerton, Calif., in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and earned her teaching credentials from California State University soon after.
Forbes taught middle-school math and science for a decade and then shifted gears to pursue her master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on trauma. She went on to become a trauma counselor.
Though she had always enjoyed writing stories just for fun, Forbes began working on her first book, The Seventh Sun (Blackstone, 2020), a fantasy inspired by the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica, as a way to combat postpartum depression following the birth
of her second child. She told The Nerd Daily that she drafted the manuscript in her rare spare moments, writing most of it “on my phone in the middle of the night with a newborn asleep on my chest.”
In the wake of her debut novel, Forbes crafted two more books to complete the Age of the Seventh Sun trilogy: The Jade Bones (2021) and The Obsidian Butterfly, which was released on February 15.
Forbes received her cancer diagnosis in June 2021, two days after giving birth to her third child. She wrote about this traumatic experience—and how she became determined to keep working and to have writing and books “continue to be the place of
comfort and coping they’d always been for me,” in a November 2021 essay for PW.
Josh Stanton, president and CEO of Blackstone Publishing, said in a statement, “We are devastated by Lani’s passing, and we deeply mourn the loss of this exceptionally talented young writer, who gave so much to her readers. We are committed to
keeping Lani’s incredible legacy alive. Her powerful, captivating young adult novels will live on to be enjoyed and beloved by readers for generations to come.”
At 7 p.m. MST on Thursday, Feb. 17, Forbes’s hometown bookstore, Rediscovered Books in Boise, is hosting a virtual event to celebrate her life and The Obsidian Butterfly’s book birthday. Blackstone announced that it had recently acquired another YA
project by Forbes and will be publishing that work posthumously. Donations can be made in Forbes’s honor on a GoFundMe page established to help cover the family’s medical expenses.