A huge welcome to Darlene Foster who is over at my blog home today for a Q and A about her children’s adventure series: Amanda Travels.
Some of you might know that I like to interview using my nickname MJ…
MJ: I’d love to find out more about your amazing travel series featuring a twelve year old girl. Who is Amanda Ross and where does she like to travel to? What mysteries does she uncover/solve? What adventures does she have?
Darlene: Amanda Ross is an average girl living in Alberta, Canada and she is bored. On her twelfth birthday she makes a wish for travel and adventure before blowing out all her candles. The next day tickets to visit her aunt and uncle in the United Arab Emirates arrive in the mail. She has an amazing adventure in the UAE that includes a mysterious perfume flask, a beautiful princess, a loyal camel and a chase across a dangerous desert. You can read about her adventures in Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask
Amanda now has the travel bug and when her friend Leah invites her to come to Spain on a holiday with her, she jumps at the chance. She visits Madrid, explores a mountain town with houses hanging on the edge of cliffs, stays overnight in an old, spooky monastery, takes part in a tomato fight and discovers the amazing sights of Barcelona. A young girl, looking amazingly like a girl in a famous painting, shows up wherever Amanda and Leah happen to be. Can Amanda keep this sweet young girl, and her beloved pony, safe from the clutches of an evil horse thief without bringing harm to herself and Leah? This adventure is in Amanda in Spain-The Girl in the Painting.
Amanda travels to England to spend spring break with Leah where she has to get used to funny accents and cars driving on the opposite side of the road. The girls visit the Isle of Wight where they meet Charlie, a kind old bookseller, and his cat Rupert. They discover a vintage book is missing from a set, meet a couple of dubious teenagers and a suspicious woman. Amanda explores Hampton Court, Harrods, The Tower of London and Windsor Castle while trying to find out what happened to the missing novel and why Charlie is acting so strange. Find out more in Amanda in England-The Missing Novel.
Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta when she visits from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, tour a ranch, go on a cattle drive, visit a Buffalo Jump, spend time at a Dinosaur Museum and explore the Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s very important, until everyone appears to want it. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and risking their lives? Spend time with Amanda in Alberta as she attempts to decipher the writing on the stone in Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone.
On a river cruise down the Danube, Amanda is given a valuable violin to look after by a homeless musician. She is fascinated by the medieval castles, green valleys and charming villages of Germany, Austria and Hungary, learns about European history and enjoys the sounds of music along the way. But, she is not sure who she can trust and if the violin can be kept safe for the poor prodigy in Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music.
MJ: How many books have you written? I’m sure my readers would be fascinated to find out more…
Darlene: I have written six books in the Amanda Travels series and one Spanish/English book called, Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio. The most recent Amanda Travels adventure takes place in New Mexico where Amanda is on a school trip. One of her classmates claims she sees ghosts but Amanda has trouble believing her, until strange things start to happen. The beautiful but haunting landscape, an ancient pueblo and a haunted hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past in Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind.
MJ: Is Amanda a little like you, when you were her age?
Darlene: There is always a little bit of you in your characters. But, Amanda is more like the girl I would have liked to have been when I was twelve. Unlike Amanda, I didn’t start to travel until I was twenty-eight years old. Perhaps I should have made a wish before I blew out my candles.
MJ: Where do you currently live? What is it about your home/s that you love?
Darlene: I have a house in Spain, on the Costa Blanca, where I spend most of my time. I love the never ending sunshine and the relaxed life style. I have plenty of time to create my stories and am close enough to other parts of Europe that I can explore. I will always be a proud Canadian though.
MJ: I am a keen traveller and you are too! Is there a favourite holiday/travel destination that you like to visit frequently? Or do you prefer to discover new places?
Darlene: I so often fall in love with a place and say I must return but I always want to check out new places too so seldom do. We once made a stop at Malta on a cruise and decided we needed to see more of it. A year later we spent a week there. I think Amanda may visit Malta too.
MJ: It sounds like you’ve had a very interesting background: growing up on a ranch in Southern Alberta. That sounds fascinating! Tell me more…
Darlene: It was an incredible place to grow up but I didn’t appreciate it at the time. I was often bored and lonely and couldn’t wait to grow up and move to the city. The plus side was that I had lots of time to make up stories in my head and plenty of time to read, when my chores were done.
MJ: What are your accomplishments that you are most proud of:
a. With regard to writing.
Darlene: I am proud of the fact that I have published seven books in eight years.
b. A non-writing one!
Darlene: I am proud of raising two amazing kids, one an accomplished potter and another who is not only a great dad and grandfather but a talented musician. Creativity in one way or another seems to run in the family. Of course, I encouraged it.
MJ: I believe you do speaking engagements and the like. What are your tips for public speaking?
Darlene: Be natural and be prepared. Know who your audience is and involve them. Be energetic and enthusiastic about your subject matter. Once you make a connection with the audience, the rest flows naturally.
MJ: What is the best part of being an author? And what is the worst?
Darlene: The best part of being an author is having a reader tell me how much they enjoyed my book. That is the icing on the cake for me! The worst is sitting in front of the computer plugging away alone. I am an extrovert and am energized by being around people, so the solitary part of writing is hard for me. But if I don’t do it, I won’t have readers telling me they enjoyed my book!
MJ: What are your favourite things to do, besides writing?
Darlene: Walking my dog, eating chocolate, reading, chatting with friends and family, exploring new places.
MJ: Have you found any resources/websites that you would like to share that are particularly helpful to authors?
Darlene: A friend gave me a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi and it is the best resource ever. There are others in the series which I have since purchased as well. Their website Writers Helping Writers has great writing tips too. https://writershelpingwriters.net
MJ: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Darlene: I am a paid up member of the panster club and have the badge to prove it. I have tried to be a plotter many times and have failed miserably.
MJ: What kind of food do you like?
Darlene: You mean besides chocolate? I am a vegetarian and love most vegetables, if done right. I especially enjoy Asian food as I love how the vegetables are prepared. So Thai, Indian, Chinese and Japanese food are high on my list. I also prefer my food to be spicy and not boring. Please don’t serve me plain steamed vegetables.
MJ: What advice would you give new authors such as myself?
Darlene: To persevere and believe in yourself. Writing is hard work but it is so worth it when you hold that finished book in your hands. Never give up!!
MJ: If you were to lose one of your senses which one would you feel the loss of most and why?
Darlene: I think I would have to say the sense of sight. There is so much to see in this amazing world we live in and I am thankful I have seen a lot. But there is still much more I would love to see.
MJ; Finish this sentence. A travelling onion…
found itself part of a pasta sauce in Italy and said “Sono contenta”
Darlene: Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Marjorie.
MJ: It’s been my pleasure Darlene.
Reading through your responses to my questions I have to say we have a fair amount in common: a love of travel, chocolate, (who doesn’t like chocolate – I have met one person who didn’t but that is a long story,) reading, writing, spicy food, and a paid up membership of the pantser club!
Thank you for taking my travelling onion to Italy. He needed a slice of the action on a holiday abroad! Lol…
Darlene’s social media links:
Website: Darlene Foster
Amazon Author Page
What fun. If you’d like to visit my blog for a Author Spotlight/Guest post, do get in touch. MJ would love it if you do!
For information about my privacy and GDPR compliance please visit: https://mjmallon.com/2018/05/20/privacy-and-gdpr-compliance/
Buy Paperback Book link: http://mybook.to/TheCurseofTime
Unique Selling Point: Unique, Imaginative, ‘Charming, enchanting and richly layered this is purely delightful.’
“This delightful book will appeal to teens and young adults who love stories filled with magical crystals, dark family curses, and mysteries waiting to be solved around every corner. Each chapter leads you on a journey of discovery where Amelina earns the right to use three wizard stones to reset the balance of time and finally break the curse that holds her family hostage. A captivating tale!” – Colleen M. Chesebro (Editor)
Authors Media Kit: https://mjmallon.com/2018/02/13/media-kit/
Collaborative blog: https://sistersofthefey.wordpress.com
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
Facebook Authors/Bloggers Support Group:
Lovely interview Darlene! I so enjoyed learning more about you, and I think your answer to the final question was PERFECTION! 😀 <3 Nice job, MJ! Sharing!!
Thank you Marcia. Glad you enjoyed the interview with Darlene. 🙂
Thanks, Marcia! Glad you enjoyed the answer to the final question. It was fun!!
Thanks so much, Marje for inviting me to be your guest. We do have a lot in common!
My pleasure Darlene. Indeed we do. 🙂
Reblogged this on Darlene Foster's Blog and commented:
I’m tickled to be featured on MJ Mallon’s blog. What would I do with a traveling onion and other things?
Another lovely interview, Darlene. Great to meet MJ and to read all the great questions –loved the traveling onion question! 🙂
Hi Beth Ann. Lovely to meet you too. Glad you enjoyed interview and the travelling onion question!
The traveling onion question was a good one!! I had to think about it for a bit. Glad you enjoyed the interview.
Darlene, I was unsure where to post my comment but I hope you see this. Sitting outside our hotel in Ribeauville, Alsace and reading this interview it reminds me that I am constantly embarrassed by your generosity in commenting on my wine and travel blog, but I never know what to say on your blog. I can’t see myself commenting on Amanda stories, but your description of Amanda in England made me smile, such details, such places described! Too many adult North American tourists do London, Stratford and Edinburgh …. and that’s it! But you’ve captured what a 12 year old SHOULD see of my country, just as we did with our own children when younger of Nepal and France especially.
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your lovely visit to Alsace to comment. I fell in love with the Isle of Wight so I had to include it and other places I thought children would enjoy reading about. I hope that by reading my books, children (and even some adults) will be inspired to visit these places and not just stick to the tried and true.
Loved the interview. Wish I was 12 would love to read all about Amanda’s stories. Perhaps I will.
How wonderful, hope you do. 🙂
Thanks!! I have readers of all ages tell me they enjoyed the books. We are kids at heart.
Glad you enjoyed Jennie
I did! 😀
You’re welcome, Janice. 🙂
Reblogged this on Stevie Turner and commented:
Enjoyed finding out a little bit more about Darlene Foster…
Thanks so much for the reblog!!
So nice to see Darlene here Marje. It’s fun learning bits and bites about our writing friends. <3
Yes indeed. So lovely to have Darlene as a guest. 🙂
Soon I will have no secrets. (Well maybe a couple!!)
Lol, I hear you! 🙂
A delightful interview. I’m off to buy my 10-year-old granddaughter AMANDA IN ENGLAND. Sounds like Amanda stops by the Isle of Wight, and since that’s my last name, Sophie will be immersed in what’s going on there with Amanda. Perhaps I’ll give Sophie some chocolate treat to savor while she reads the book, since both she, her grandmother (me!) and the author are chocolate-lovers. 🙂
How wonderful! I’m sure Darlene will be delighted and your granddaughter will love it. 🙂
I do hope Sophie enjoys Amanda’s adventures in England. There is a Maine Coone cat in it I think she will like as well. I wonder if your ancestors came from the Isle of Wight?
I believe we must have Isle of Wight ancestors, Darlene. That side of my family never got into their ancestry, while my mom’s side – the Schuyler’s – have deeds from King George thanking General Philip Schuyler for his service (before he became an American Patriot!). Ah, life.
From one chocolate lover to another, I really enjoyed this interview, Darlene! I also have The Emotion Thesaurus – it was recommended to me by a friend at a writer’s retreat, and it’s an excellent resource.
Thank you Teri. It sounds like a great recommend from Darlene. 🙂
Writers and chocolate seem to go together! So glad you enjoyed this interview. I don’t know what I would do without my Emotion Thesaurus. xo
Darlene always a delight to learn more about you. Intriguing to hear you say Amanda is the girl you would have liked to have been. loved your answer to the the onion question. It made me smile and conjured up happy meals of Italy.