Today on Reade and Write I’m thrilled to welcome Darlene Foster, who’s here to talk about her newest novel, Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, Book 7 in the Amanda Travels series (it’s available for pre-order now–it will be released on September 3rd). You will love the covers of these delightful books, and I love the idea behind the series because I enjoy reading stories set in places all over the world. Darlene’s books are a bit different from ones I normally spotlight on this blog because they’re written with a younger audience in mind, but so many adults love the books, too. And I think you’ll enjoy the interview as much as I did.
Congratulations on your next release! Tell us all about it.
In Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action, Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah, travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. While there, she is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who didn’t return from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald.
Amanda travels around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, this intrepid traveller encounters danger and intrigue as she attempts to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.
Who is the audience for the book?
The book is written for middle grade or juvenile readers, about 8 to 12 years old. But many adults will enjoy it as well as they read it to younger children or for themselves.
Tell me about the setting of your book—how did you choose it, what kind of research did you have to do, why did you choose it?
The setting is modern-day Holland. I chose it as it is a place I have been intrigued by ever since I read Mary Mapes Dodge’s book, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates when I was about ten years old. I finally visited the Netherlands with my husband three years ago and it was everything I imagined and more. I decided then that Amanda needed to visit this delightful country. I consider my trip part of my research since I took many pictures and kept a journal. I did more research on the internet while I wrote the story as well as asked my Dutch friends and family members many questions to ensure my facts were correct.
What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Since this is the seventh book in the series, I wanted to make sure that the story was unique and didn’t sound exactly like the others, while still maintaining the same traits of the main characters.
If your book were made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the main characters?
I find this question difficult as child actors grow up so fast making it a moving target. I actually see these books more as animations should they be made into movies.
Tell us about your other books.
I have written six other books in the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone, Amanda on The Danube – The Sounds of Music and Amanda in New Mexico-Ghosts in the Wind. I have also written a bi-lingual (English/Spanish) book called Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio.
Are you in one or more critique groups or partnerships?
I am a huge believer in critique groups and currently belong to three of them, one in Canada and two in Spain. Without my critique groups, I would have never completed and published eight books in ten years.
Do you write every day?
Yes, I do. It may not be much some days and it is not always on my current WIP (Work In Progress), but I write. It is what I do.
Who are your favorite authors? Favorite genres?
My favourite authors are Jane Austen, Lucy Maude Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Atwood, Alice Monroe, Tracy Chevalier, Philippa Gregory, and Amy Tan, to name a few. My favourite books feature strong female characters, contemporary and historical.
Where would you like to go more than anywhere else on earth?
I would so love to visit Australia and New Zealand.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I know it has been said before by many other authors but DON’T GIVE UP. There will be many down days even after you have been published, when you question your sanity. But just keep writing. That first draft is never going to be a published book. There will be many rewrites and tons of editing but just keep going. Talk to other authors, listen to their advice, and learn from their mistakes. Join a critique group or two or three and read other writer’s blogs.
What is your favorite movie and why?
This is difficult but I guess I have to say, “Gone with the Wind.” Scarlett O’Hara is a flawed character but oh my, she is strong. The movie deviates from the book but it depicts the times so well and Vivian Leigh is the perfect Scarlett.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t worry, be happy, it will all work out.
Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, hardworking and compassionate
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you wanted me to?
I was hoping you would ask me what my weakness is. My answer would have been chocolate. But you didn’t ask me so now no one will know. Haha!
Where can readers connect with you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Where can readers find your books?
My books are available on all Amazon sites, Kobo and other quality bookstores such as Chapters/Indigo, Barnes and Noble, and Waterstones, as well as many independent booksellers. If not on the shelves, they can be ordered.
Thank you so much Amy, for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog.
Thank you, Darlene. Congratulations on your new book! I wish you all the best.
Until next time,