Today’s guest is Darlene Foster who has taken on the challenge of writing books for youngsters. Something I wish I could do, but I could never find that voice.
Darlene Foster: My books are travel adventure stories for middle readers (approximately 8 – 12 year olds) They are about an average, bored young girl who wishes for travel and adventure as she blows out the candles on her twelfth birthday. Her wish comes true when she receives airline tickets to visit her Aunt and Uncle in the United Arab Emirates, halfway around the world. Once there she meets Leah, an English girl, and before she knows it they are in the middle of an adventure that involves a runaway princess, evil bounty hunters, a loyal camel and a dangerous sand storm. She often finds herself wishing she were home enjoying her boring but safe life, but feels compelled to unravel the secrets of the perfume flask. Leah and Amanda become BFFs and decide to meet again in Spain. There Amanda encounters a mysterious young girl who looks like she stepped out of a famous painting and can’t resist helping her and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer as they trek across sunny Spain. Amanda just can’t keep her nose out of other people’s problems and it always gets her in trouble.
Terry C Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Darlene Foster: I was invited to visit a good friend of mine who was working in the UAE. It was a trip of a lifetime. I found the country, people and culture fascinating and felt the need to share my experience in a story. When I was able to write the experience through the eyes of a twelve year old, it was much more fun.
Terry C Simpson: What writer influenced you the most?
Darlene Foster: I read a lot and always have. I was lucky as we didn’t have a TV on the farm I grew up on, so my entertainment was books. My favourite authors were Lucy Maude Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott, because they wrote about strong young girls. I am also a huge fan of Jane Austen but didn’t start reading her until I was in my early thirties. Again, I am attracted to how she depicts her strong female characters. (Sorry, you asked for one writer and I gave you three)
Terry C Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Darlene Foster: So glad you asked. My favourite character is Amanda because she is taken so out of her comfort zone and has to rely on her resourcefulness to get her out of some tight spots. I feel she is very real; naïve, inquisitive and feisty. Leah is much worldlier and makes a good balance. The relationship between the two girls develops nicely in the series. In some ways they are very different but they are both from single children families so they become almost like sisters. (which includes disagreeing at times)
Terry C Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?
Darlene Foster: The first book took me three years to write and five years to find a publisher. I soon learned that writing the book was the easy part.
Terry C Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Darlene Foster: I have general idea and a very rough outline, that changes many times. Ideas just seem to materialize as I write, or as I am driving, doing housework or walking on the beach. I can be watching TV or a movie with my husband and jump up suddenly to jot down an idea.
Terry C Simpson: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
Darlene Foster: My goal is for young people to learn more about a place and culture they may not be able to visit themselves, while being entertained at the same time. I hope my books encourage children to want to know more about the world and perhaps be inspired to visit other places and to step out of their comfort zone.
Terry C Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Darlene Foster: Finding blocks of uninterrupted time. Once I get started the ideas flow but I don’t have much spare time to write.
Terry C Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
Darlene Foster: I write two hours a day, after work and after dinner with my husband. This includes marketing and research. I am very goal oriented so I set attainable goals like completing one chapter a month.
Terry C Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
Darlene Foster: Actually being able to call myself a published writer!
Terry C Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Darlene Foster: Never give up. If you have story to tell, tell it. Get help if you need it and keep writing. Like everything else, practice makes perfect. Enter contests, submit to magazines and anthologies. Join writer’s groups. Think outside the box when it comes to publishing and never give up.
Terry C Simpson: What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
Darlene Foster: It is important to network and become part of the social media. If people don’t know about you and your book, they aren’t going to buy it or tell other people about it.
Terry C Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
Darlene Foster: I do readings and signings locally, send press releases to newspapers, blog, am active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. and occasionally get interviewed by nice folks like you. I have also joined writer’s organizations which have been a huge help as there is strength in numbers and writers are so amazingly supportive of each other.
Terry C Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
Darlene Foster: Never give up on your dreams!
Terry C Simpson: Have you written any other books
Darlene Foster: Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting is the second of the series and I am working on Amanda in England-The Missing Novel. I have also had some short stories included in anthologies.
Terry C Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?
Darlene Foster: http://www.ireadiwrite.com/Books/Amanda%20in%20Arabia/ and www.darlenefoster.ca
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