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 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!