Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Darlene Foster, @supermegawoman

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my favorite award-winning children’s authors, Darlene Foster. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. This is Darlene’s second visit to my blog. We had so much fun last time, she couldn’t wait to stop around again!

Darlene Foster writes the kind of children’s books that I would have loved to read as a child. Pull up a seat and stay awhile. Let’s talk writing!

Darlene Foster and “Amanda in Holland”

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme.”

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble.

Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Amazon Author Page

What kind of research do you do for a children’s book, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a lot of research for each book. I start my research during my visit to the country the story will eventually take place in. While there, I take many pictures and make copious notes, as well as collect brochures and articles of interest. I also talk to local people, taste local food and attend cultural events if possible to get the feel of the country.

Once home, I start writing the story and research as I go along. I use the information I gathered as well as check facts on the internet using several sources to be sure I get it right.

For instance, while working on Amanda in Holland, I found some YouTube videos on making wooden shoes which were very helpful when describing the process. If the writing is going well and I don’t want to stop to do research, I highlight the area and go back to it later. I do more fact-checking and research during the revision process.

I enjoy doing research and learn a lot in the process. I have to be careful that I don’t get carried away with my research as young readers don’t want too much detail.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

You don’t have to be a grammar Nazi to be a successful author, but you need to know some. I have grammar Nazis on my team and they find many things I miss.

You need more than one, as different people find different things. Some are good at finding missing or misplaced punctuation while others find spelling mistakes, sentence structure issues or tense changes etc. It is also worth hiring a professional editor, even if your grammar is quite good. A writer gets too close to the story to find mistakes. Those mistakes can be distracting and take the reader out of the story.

What do you think about the idea that people think being a published author is glamorous? How has that worked out for you?

I don’t believe being a published author is glamorous but it certainly is rewarding. One of my favourite things to do as an author is to visit schools where I read from my books and talk about writing.

I recently visited some schools in Canada. When I walked into one grade four class, a young man shouted, “She’s here! She’s here! I can’t believe she’s here!” For a moment I felt like I a rock star.

Most established writers I meet are very down-to-earth people. I recently chatted with Diana Gabaldon, author of the widely popular Outlander series, at a writer’s conference. I found her to be very pleasant and unpretentious. I just don’t think glamorous describes an author.

What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Do writers ever retire?

Five years ago I retired from my day job so I could write more. I wrote the first four books in the Amanda Travels series while I was working full time and it was difficult. Having said that, I don’t feel I have much more time to write than when I worked!

The difference is I am in charge of my own time. I have managed to write and publish three more books since I “retired” and have the first draft of anther completed.

I don’t think writers ever retire. We are always on the lookout for ideas whether at home, walking the dog, socializing with friends or on holidays. I recently went on a book tour in Canada, promoting my latest release, Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action. I visited many schools, libraries, book stores and cafes. It was fun but exhausting. So much for being retired!

I follow your travels on Facebook, Darlene. You’re amazing. Please share your current projects.

Amanda continues to travel. Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action has just been released. In this book, intrepid traveller Amanda Ross is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah. They travel the canals of Amsterdam, visit Anne Frank House, check out windmills, tour a wooden shoe factory, and take pictures of the amazing flowers of Keukenhof Gardens.  But, things are missing in Holland – rare tulip bulbs, a gardener, a home for an abandoned puppy and Amanda’s great-uncle who didn’t return from the war. Is Amanda capable of finding these missing things without putting herself in danger?

The first draft of book number eight, Amanda in Malta – The Sleeping Lady is completed and I’m about to start the first revision. Amanda’s best friend, Leah, is in trouble, in Malta. Amanda rushes to her aid, not knowing what she will encounter in this ancient and mysterious island country.

Ideas for other Amanda Travels adventures are bouncing around in my head. One reader asked me during a recent school visit, “How long do you plan on writing these books?” I answered without hesitating, “Until I die.” Or at least until I run out of steam.

Thanks so much for once again featuring me and Amanda on your wonderful blog.

How to Connect with Darlene Foster







Thank you for stopping by to meet Darlene Foster!

90 thoughts on “Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Darlene Foster, @supermegawoman

  1. Pingback: Darlene
  2. What a wonderful interview! I particularly loved what Amanda said about research and if the writing is going good, marking the place and moving forward to return to later and do the research. That’s such a great idea and would keep the writer from going down rabbit holes that an absorb time. Thank you for hosting, Colleen!


    1. Thanks, Jan. It works for me as I may lose the train of thought otherwise. Sometimes when I go back I realize I actually don’t need to do any research so I have saved myself some time. I have sometimes spent 2 or 3 hours on research and then only adding one sentence in the end. Maybe that’s why I am a slow writer.


  3. Wonderful interview, Darlene, and thank you for hosting, Colleen. I loved many parts but was drawn to your revelation that despite being retired, you didn’t have more writing time. It does feel that way, doesn’t it?


  4. Great to see Darlene over here, Colleen. I was most interested in how she does her research. I am to much of a perfectionist to leave something and go back to it. I have to do the research then and there so sometimes my word count is low.


  5. Fantastic interview Sis and Darlene! No matter how many times we read about our writing friends, there’s always a new nugget to learn. Darlene, our research process is so similar while writing and glamorous admiration is hilarious – if they only knew! Fab and fun interview girls. Hugs ❤ xx


  6. This was an interesting interview. I could tell by you answers, Darlene, how much you enjoy writing your books and it must be a lot of fun visiting the settings of your novels. What a great motivation to travel! And, you are a rock star! 🙂


    1. Thanks, Carol. I do enjoy the writing as well as the travelling. It is hard to know if the travel motivates the writing or the writing motivates the travel. It’s a chicken and egg question.


  7. Certainly, you must be rock-star famous if students are screaming, “She’s here!” These are memories to cherish. A writer retire? I’m with you on that one: I’ll write until I can’t. A wonderful interview. Thank you.


  8. Maybe even more important to be a grammar Nazi if you write books for children? It makes me wonder whether kids nowadays undergo the rigorous grammar and spelling tests at school that I had as a child.


    1. I think they do. I was visiting one school a few years back and one student said she found a spelling mistake in one of my books. I said, “I know. I left it there to see if anyone would notice.” The teacher loved my answer. (quick thinking on my part). I agree, I consider it a huge responsibility to make sure the stories are as error free as possible, especially as it is for kids!.


  9. may you never retire, Darlene. What a wonderful interview. Thanks, Colleen. Hugs for you both and here’s to many more of Amanda’s adventures. I love your connection with the children. ❤


  10. I enjoyed Amanda in Holland, and Darlene’s research does shine through. I was reminded of my trip to Holland when I was about Amanda’s age. 🙂 It was a fun read. Darlene is a rock star, for sure. 🙂 Great interview Darlene and Colleen. Happy Holidays.


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