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L.T. Suzuki

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Blogs by L.T. Suzuki

Darlene Foster Interview
4/14/2012 8:58:08 PM

MG Author Darlene Foster discusses her novels and the writing life
LTS: I had the good fortune of meeting today’s featured author a few years ago when I was a judge for a province-wide writing contest and she was a contestant. She became a finalist and her short story really did stand out from the many entries (which is why she is here today) and since then, our paths keep crossing at various literary events. I’d like to introduce to you to MG author Darlene Foster.
I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Darlene. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

DF: First of all I would like to thank you Lorna for this opportunity to share a bit about myself. Winning a prize for my short story in that contest, gave me the confidence to continue writing; so I will always be grateful for that! Here is some information about me:
I was brought up on a farm/ranch in South Eastern Alberta where I dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. I have worked in retail management, recruitment, ESL teaching and employment counseling and have loved every job I have had. I am also the mother of two fabulous adult children and a grandmother of the four most awesome kids you will ever meet. My grandson gave me the tag “supermegawoman”. I live in Tsawwassen, BC with my husband and our two black cats, Pumpkin and Monkey. When I am not writing, or working, or spending time with my family and friends, I like to go for walks on the beach and I sneak in time to read whenever I can.

LTS: Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?

DF: When I was growing up on the farm, we didn’t have TV and I had a lot of alone time; so I would make up stories in my head to entertain myself. In grade three, I had a wonderful teacher who encouraged me to write my stories down. When I was twelve, I had a short story published in the Winnipeg Free Press. Since then I always had a desire to become a published author.

LTS: You have two books in your series, Amanda in Spain and Amanda in Arabia featuring a 12-year-old Canadian girl named Amanda Ross. What was the inspiration behind these stories and can you tell us a little bit about your young protagonist?

DF: I have followed my dream of travelling to faraway places. About ten years ago I travelled to The United Arab Emirates to visit a friend who was working there. She planned many interesting things for me to see and do during my stay which enabled me to really experience the country. I was so amazed by the culture, scenery and people that when I returned to Canada, I felt compelled to write about it. Because I had difficulty portraying the excitement of being in such a unique part of the world, I decided to write my experiences from the point of view of a twelve year-old. I threw in an adventure, some action and a mystery - and Amanda in Arabia was born. Amanda learned a lot and had so much fun; I decided she needed to continue travelling. Since I have been to Spain a few times, that became her next adventure. Amanda is an ordinary Canadian girl who is very inquisitive and somewhat naïve. She cares about people and animals, gets involved in helping people in distress and subsequently gets into trouble. She has to use her wits and resourcefulness to get herself out of predicaments.

LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open one of your books?

DF: My readers will learn about a different place in the world while being entertained. I include descriptions of sites and scenery. The clothing, food, and culture are described as Amanda and her new found friends undergo an adventure they will never forget. One young reader said he felt like he was actually there after reading Amanda in Arabia! The readers can travel to another country without leaving their home. They may also become enticed to visit these places themselves one day.

LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?

DF: I don’t have an agent. I was advised early on by established authors, that children’s writers don’t require an agent.

LTS: Becoming a published author is truly a difficult road to travel, so I’m always pleased when a fellow writer lands a book deal with a publishing company. Can you share that moment?

DF: It was indeed a tough road to publication. It took me three years to write the first book and five years to find a publisher. But it was worth the wait as I am very happy with my local independent publisher, Central Avenue Publishing. I met Michelle Halket three years ago when she attended a meeting of my critique group to talk about e-publishing. Her focus at that time was e-publishing and she invited me to submit my manuscript, which she accepted and e-published. She was happy with the results and when she decided to venture into print publishing, she chose Amanda in Arabia to be one of her first. Holding the copy of my first book was an incredible experience, very similar to holding your newborn child.

LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?

DF: In a word, patience. I am not a patient person so this was a hard lesson. It takes time to produce good work, it takes time to find a publisher, it takes time to market and create sales. It takes incredible patience to be a writer.

LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.

DF: I am a true panster. I have a general idea of the story in my head but it evolves as I write and often takes totally different turns than I expect. I learn about my characters as I write.

LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?

DF: I just need chocolate and a block of uninterrupted time.

LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?

DF: I go for a walk, read or talk to friends/other writers to get me going again. Sometimes I start another project, a short story for a contest or do research. I find writer’s blocks don’t last long.

LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?

DF: Jane Austen is my all time favourite author; although I have many others. Her books are the only ones I can read over and over again and always enjoy. I love how she portrays her female characters. They appear conventional but then act against convention in a surprising way. They are strong and principled in a time when young women were expected to follow tight guidelines that were not always in their best interests. They are very real.

LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?

DF: I am reading “Tunnels of Tyranny” by Mary Harelkin Bishop. A young Canadian girl travels back in time to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in the 1920s. She has to use her wits and present day knowledge to avert a tragedy. It is part of a series and I want to see how the author handles that. I also just finished your novel, “Imago-The Warrior’s Tale”. The main character, Nayla, definitely fits with my interest in strong female characters!

LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from MG into other genres? Can your fans expect another Amanda story in the near future?

DF: I am currently working on “Amanda in England-The Missing Novel” which is scheduled for publication later this year. Amanda will be doing more travelling in the next five years for sure. I would like to try my hand at picture books and perhaps some contemporary women’s stories. I have an idea for a compilation of short stories. (Perhaps I will find a home for my prize winning story)

LTS: Thank you so much for sharing in your stories and your writing life, Darlene. I’ll catch you on Twitter and I’m sure I’ll be seeing again at the next big literary event!
For more information about Darlene and her books, check out:
Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Follow Darlene on Twitter: .supermegawoman
Where to buy the book: Albany Books, Black Bond Books, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.uk, Sony Eeader Store, Barnes & Noble


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Across the Wilderness by Pamela Ackerson

Time travel story, a search for love and the hope for a better tomorrow...  
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