Darlene Foster Interview Published on: 10, Feb 2020

Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, which is your favorite childhood memory?

One of my favourite memories is sitting on a large rock in the middle of a field making up stories in my head. I had a wonderful childhood, although I didn’t always appreciate it at the time. I found it lonely, as I like being around people, and often wished I lived in a big, busy city. But it gave me plenty of time to daydream and create characters and adventures that later fuelled my desire to write. When I was twelve, one of my stories was published in the local newspaper.

At what age did you start dreaming of writing, traveling the world and meeting interesting people?

I believe it was in grade three, when I was eight-years-old. I had a wonderful teacher who encouraged me to write down my stories. She also taught us about other countries in such a fun, interesting way that made me want to travel the world and meet interesting people. I owe her a lot and have since found her and thanked her for making a difference in my life.

How do your travels inspire you to write your stories? How often do you travel?

When I visit an interesting place, a strong desire to share my experiences with the rest of the world results. I take notes and many pictures. I am always thinking of how I can work a setting or situation into a story. I travel to at least one new location a year but often more. I am retired and have a house in Spain, so I don´t have to travel very far to visit many amazing European places.

Why did you choose to write children’s adventure books?

I love writing for children, they are like sponges and so eager to learn. They enjoy adventures and characters who can get themselves out of a tight spot. I can better express the excitement I feel when I travel, through the eyes of a child. I recall the books I enjoyed as a child (and still do). Interestingly, many adults read my books and enjoy them as well. Kids’ books aren’t just for kids!

What inspired you to write your book, "Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind"?

I travelled to Taos, New Mexico with my aunt, who is also one of my best friends. We had such an amazing time. Besides being steeped in history, this place has a very paranormal feel about it. We even visited a haunted hotel in Cimarron. Everywhere we went, I kept saying, "Amanda would love it here." When I returned home, I immediately started making notes which eventually became the book, including ghosts of course.

Are the stories in Amanda Travels series inspired by your real-life travel experiences?

Yes, they are. I have travelled to all the places Amanda has been. However, I have not had all the adventures Amanda has had. She probably has more fun in her travels than I do. I have made it a policy that Amanda can’t travel to any place I haven’t been.

How did you come up with the story of "Amanda on the Danube"? Have you ever been to the beautiful Danube with your bestie?

As a matter of fact, I did take a riverboat cruise down the Danube with my best friend and our husbands a few years ago. It was a trip of a lifetime, with stops in Germany, Austria, and Hungary. I knew immediately it would be the perfect setting for Amanda and Leah to have an adventure. Including music in the story was a no-brainer.

What is the significance of the title of your book, "Amanda in England: The Missing Novel".

I love to read and so does Amanda. Books are important to both of us. When a vintage novel goes missing, Amanda feels compelled to find it. I love visiting the many used bookstores in England so I wanted to include one in the novel. I found a quintessential bookstore on the Isle of Wight which was perfect for the story, including a resident Main Coon cat.

Who is the inspiration behind the character of Amanda Ross?

Amanda is the twelve-year-old I would have liked to be. It is so much easier for kids to travel these days. I didn’t travel on an airplane until I was in my mid-twenties. I would have so loved to see the world as a child and have adventures. I am reliving my childhood by writing the Amanda stories.

Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels? How do keep things fresh for your readers?

It took me three years to write the first book. It was a steep learning curve as I had so much to learn. I am still learning, but I can write a book in a year now. Keeping things fresh is a challenge. I keep up with today´s young people, hang out with them and listen to their conversations. I introduce new characters in every book to keep it fresh. The character of Caleb, a classmate and good friend of Amanda’s was introduced in the New Mexico book. He was so well received he will appear again in Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady, book number eight.

When you're not writing, what are some things you like to do for fun? Do you consider writing as more of a hobby or a job?

I treat writing as a job. I make sure I write for at least a couple of hours almost every day. When I’m not writing, I enjoy taking my dog for walks, going to the beach, having coffee with my hubby, baking and trying new recipes as well as travelling of course.

What are some author milestones you've achieved so far? What more do you hope to achieve in ten years' time?

Publishing eight books in ten years is a huge accomplishment for me. I have also won prizes for my short stories and had some published in several anthologies. A milestone for me was visiting my former school in rural Alberta and reading from my books to the current students. In another ten years, I hope to have written a few more Amanda stories, as well as venture into other areas such as picture books or adult novels. I would also like to compile a book of short stories about growing up on the prairies in the fifties and sixties.

How does it feel to be an award-winning author of children’s adventure books?

Unbelievable. I still have to pinch myself that this has actually happened. Seeing my books available online, and on shelves at bookstores and libraries is the most incredible feeling. Having readers tell me they enjoyed the stories and hope I write more is like a dream. If this is a dream, I don’t want to wake up!

What are you currently working on?

I am putting the finishing touches on Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping lady, which will be published in the spring of 2021. I have also started Amanda in France. I have ideas for other adventures for Amanda, but that will depend on my own travel plans.

How did you first come across the AllAuthor website? What do you like or dislike about the site?

I wish I could remember how I first heard about AllAuthor, but it was most likely through another author who recommended it. I like the site very much as it is easy for someone like me, who is not as technical as should be, to manoeuvre it. There is a nice personal feel to the site as well.

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