This week’s guest post is an interview with the lovely Darlene Foster, author of Amanda in New Mexico. Enjoy!
Q01 – Why did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t know if I ever consciously decided to be a writer. I always liked making up stories in my head and my grade three teacher encouraged me to write them down. When I was twelve, I had a story published in a local newspaper.
I took a few creative writing courses over the years and entered my short stories into competitions. I even won a few prizes and had some included in anthologies.
I guess I always thought it would be great to be a published author one day, not really believing it would actually happen. I still have trouble believing it has actually happened.
Q02 – Are there any authors who inspire you?
There are too many to list but here are a few – Jane Austen, Margaret Laurence, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and Alexander McCall Smith. I mention these authors because of their ability to create ordinary characters that readers would want for best friends.
Didn’t we all want to have Jo March, Elizabeth Bennet or Anne Shirley as our BFFs? These authors also expertly use setting as another character and use it to move the stories along.
I could feel the heat coming off the road in Botswana as I drove along with Mma Ramotswe in her little white van on her way to solve another mystery for the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith).
Q03 – What is your favourite part about being a children’s book author?
My favourite part is going to schools and libraries to read my books to children. They are always so enthralled and interested in the story. I love the well thought out questions the students ask me.
I find them energizing and motivating. When a young reader tells me they love my books, it makes all the hard work of writing a book worthwhile.
Q04 – Are you currently working on a new book?
Yes, I am. I’m putting the finishing touches on Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action. It should be released next year, 2019. Amanda visits Holland with her BFF Leah.
They enjoy the gorgeous tulip fields, watch wooden shoes being made and learn about the cruelty of war at the Anne Frank House.
They find an abandoned puppy and run into a mysterious gardener who is hiding a secret. All the time Amanda wonders what happened to her great uncle who went to Holland in 1945 and never returned, reported missing in action.
Q05 – Do you use any specific writing software when drafting your manuscripts?
I simply use MS Word documents. It works well for me. I can’t complicate things with other software, I would never get the books finished.
Q06 – Do you plan your stories or just leap right into the writing?
I tend to leap right in. I usually start with the setting and since it is a series, I know who the main character is. Her BFF, Leah, is usually in the story (but not always). Other characters just show up.
The action flows as I write. I do create a mind map and add to it as I go along. It gets very messy by the end as things change, often. I wish I would be better at plotting. I’ve tried but it just doesn’t work for me.
Q07 – Do you have a writing routine?
I used to but not anymore. I now write whenever I get the chance, at the beach, on aeroplanes, in the car, on buses and trains etc.
Since I retired, my life is no longer set to a routine and I travel a lot more now.
Q08 – What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
The time it takes. I am not a patient person. I just want it to get done and published but it doesn’t work that way.
I used to find the editing and revision tedious but I actually enjoy it now. It’s like polishing a gemstone. I love seeing the final product which is so improved from the rough first draft.
Q09 – Do you get a lot of support from family and friends for your writing?
I am so lucky because I get tremendous support from my awesome family and friends. Without them, I would still be dreaming of becoming a published author. I am forever grateful for their support and encouragement.
Q10 – What is the single best piece of advice you could give to new writers?
Be patient and don’t give up. Writing is a process and takes time. There will be tough times but persevere. It is so worth it!
Q11 – Are there any authors you would love to meet in person?
If I could go back in time and meet Jane Austen, I would be so happy. I am sure we would have a great conversation.
I love her sharp wit. Her ability to create believable characters and describe a place and time so vividly would be amazing to talk to her about. I recently visited her grave and had a chat with her but it isn’t quite the same thing.
Q12 – Tells us why you love writing
I love writing because I get to be a twelve-year-old girl again. I can relive my travels and it keeps my mind active. I have always had an active imagination, now I can put it to good use. I am project oriented so seeing a book completed and published gives me great joy.
Thank you so much for featuring me and my books on your blog, Ari. I enjoyed answering these questions.
Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, travelling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true.
It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places.
Readers from seven to seventy plus enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. A world traveller herself, Darlene spends her time in Vancouver, Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.
Amanda in New Mexico
In the sixth book of the Amanda Travels series, Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico to collect material for writing projects.
She is travelling with some of her classmates including Cleo, who believes in ghosts and insists she keeps seeing them. Amanda doesn’t believe in ghosts and is determined to prove there is no such thing. When weird, unexplainable things start to happen to Amanda, she questions her denial of the supernatural.
Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend Caleb as they visit a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a spooky hotel where the ghost of a murdered cowboy haunts the rooms.
Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere she goes? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos, New Mexico in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.
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Thanks so much to Darlene for being today’s guest poster. I hope you all enjoyed her interview. Do make sure to check out her links and if you have any questions or comments for Darlene, please leave them below.
I’ll be back tomorrow at 6:30pm (BST) with another Blogger Series post.