I want to thank and welcome wonderful (and well-traveled) MG author, Darlene Foster for sharing her personal experiences on writing a book series and showcasing her middle grade adventure series the Amanda Travel Adventure series with us on my blog today.
BONUS: One lucky reader will win an Amanda Travel Adventure ebook of their choice just by leaving a comment! Don’t forget to leave your contact info for a chance to win, and good luck! So let’s get this interview rolling…
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write the Amanda Travel Adventure series, Darlene?
I was inspired by an amazing trip I took to the United Arab Emirates. While I was there, I felt as excited as a twelve year old. I decided it would be a great setting for a children´s book. I created the character of Amanda, an average girl who wishes for travel and adventure as she blows out the candles on her twelfth birthday. The next day an airplane ticket arrives in the mail for her to visit her aunt and uncle who live in the UAE. What follows is an adventure of a life time. Once Amanda got the travel bug, she had to see more interesting places. I suppose I created Amanda because as a child, I wanted to see the world.
Seems like you made your dreams a reality! How many books are you planning to write in this middle grade travel adventure series?
I was only going to write three but I keep getting new ideas. So I guess I will write as many books as there are interesting places for Amanda to visit. My readers keep asking, “Where will Amanda go next?” Her adventures are based on my travels. I just don´t get into as much trouble as she does.
Keep’em coming, Darlene! What sets the Amanda Travel Adventures series apart from other series in the same genre?
Amanda considers herself a regular girl leading a boring life, but tends to get caught up in other people´s problems. She is braver and more curious than she thinks she is. She also has a good friend, Leah, who lives in England and is quite different from her. This friendship evolves in the series. I believe these books provide an opportunity for children (and adults) to learn about another country while following Amanda and Leah. I try to include details kids would find interesting and often amusing. Maybe something they wouldn´t necessarily learn in school. Teachers who have introduced these books to their classrooms, tell me the children love learning about the places Amanda visits. It entices them to look up more information about the sites on the internet.
How long did it take for you to start and finish each book from the Amanda Travel Adventure series?
The first book took me three years to write but the last two took about eighteen months. I guess you get faster once you know what you are doing. (As if you ever really do!)
I wish I could say the same thing. LOL! What are some of your favorite book series, Darlene?
Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Little Women, Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables (all with unique and strong female characters!)
Little Women was one of my favorites too. Loved Jo! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write a series?
Get to know your characters well and then have them evolve. The characters should always learn something new about themselves. Each book should be able to stand on its own. My books don´t have to be read in order.
Excellent! Readers need someone to route for, and watching characters evolve keeps them begging for more books. What’s next for Darlene Foster the author?
I have a bi-lingual book coming out called Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio. One page will be in English and the other in Spanish. It is a medieval tale about a young boy who tries to save his pig who is on trial. I am also working on Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music
Sounds like you’ll be one busy author, Darlene! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—IF you could time travel into Earth’s past, WHO would you love to meet, and WHY?
I love time travel and your books are great. I would love to travel back to the time of Jane Austen so I could have a chat with her about her writing. I would so enjoy listening to her wonderful words and terrific wit. I love her books and her characters are delightful.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to be a guest on your blog Sharon!
You’re very welcome, Darlene! And readers please don’t forget to leave a comment and your contact info for a chance to WIN an Amanda Travel Adventure ebook of your choice! Darlene will draw the lucky winner at the end of this week! Cheers!
Amanda Travel Adventure Books:
Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask
Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing half way around the world in the United Arab Emirates? It's her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and a loyal camel called Ali Baba. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.
Amanda in Spain-The Girl in The Painting
Amanda Jane Ross is certainly becoming a world traveller; she's now in sunny Spain on vacation with her friend Leah. While there, she encounters a mysterious young girl who looks eerily like the girl in a famous painting she saw in a Madrid museum. Even weirder, the girl keeps showing up wherever Amanda finds herself - Madrid, the remote mountains of rural Spain, the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, a lively fiesta and the busy streets of Barcelona. Amanda wants to help this sweet, young girl and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer. Come with Amanda on her next adventure as she attempts to unravel the mystery behind the Girl in the Painting while she treks across Spain - always one step ahead of danger!
Amanda in England-The Missing Novel
Amanda Ross is visiting England and taking in all the sights. She gets lost in the maze at Hampton Court, does some shopping at Harrods, meets the ravens in the Tower of London, explores Windsor Castle, and rides the London Eye. When she discovers a vintage book is missing from a collection, she is determined to find out who stole it. Amanda befriends a pair of tough teenagers from the streets of London, an elderly bookshop owner, and a big, friendly, clever, Maine Coon cat named Rupert. Follow Amanda through cobblestone streets, medieval castles, and underground tunnels in her quest to find the missing novel!
Amanda in Alberta-The Writing on the Stone
Amanda is delighted to show Leah around Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos. When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn't think it's important until everyone seems to want it - including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah's holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.
Amazon Buy Links:
Darlene Foster is a writer of children’s stories, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, reading, shoes, cooking, sewing, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends. Her grandson calls 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. Children from seven to seventy enjoy her Amanda travel adventure series. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true! Her and her husband divide their time between the west coast of BC, Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain.