Guest Post: Darlene Foster

I am delighted to be able to bring you a guest post from the lovely Darlene Foster, a Canadian blogger and published author.

Here is her own short bio.

Brought up on a ranch in Canada, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She has always loved to tell stories and was encouraged by her grade three teacher to write them down. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring 12-year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Germany, Holland and her own country, Canada. When not travelling herself, Darlene divides her time between the sunny Costa Blanca of Spain and the west coast of Canada.

And this is her unedited guest post.

How Travel Memories Became Books for Kids

By Darlene Foster

As a young girl living in rural Alberta, Canada, I always wanted to do two things, travel and write. My first time on an airplane was at age twenty-five when I flew to England to marry my British fellow. I couldn’t contain my excitement. I didn’t mind that London was fogged in and we had to land in Scotland first. It didn’t bother me that we missed our connection and had to sleep in Heathrow airport for a few hours until we could get a flight to Manchester. The only train to York stopped at every little town and hamlet along the way and we were almost a day late for the roast beef dinner his family made for us. For me it was all part of the amazing adventure, and I loved every minute. I never stopped travelling after that.

Years later I was invited to visit a friend who was working in the United Arab Emirates. An opportunity I would never get again, I didn’t hesitate to go. The moment I stepped off the plane, I was enthralled. I loved everything about the place; the people, the food, the culture, the geography, the history. I visited an archaeological dig, witnessed a camel race, spent a day in the desert at a Bedouin camp, rode a camel, took a drive into the mountains, walked in a wadi and shopped at a souk. I felt like I had stepped into a storybook. My friend commented that I acted as excited as a twelve-year-old.

I returned home and felt the urge to write about this remarkable experience. I started to write from an adult’s perspective but it wasn’t working for me. The story lacked the excitement I felt while encountering such unique experiences. One sleepless night I looked through my photographs which brought back vivid memories. I started to write, but this time from the point of view of a twelve-year-old. It felt right. I wrote about what I saw and felt, and I threw in an adventure. That night, Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask was born.

After completing the book, I decided Amanda needed to do more travelling. My in-laws had retired to Spain from England and we had been to visit them there a number of times. Spain is another country I found fascinating. It wasn’t too difficult to incorporate my travels and experiences in Spain into Amanda in Spain – the Girl in the Painting. I had fun including the Gaudi buildings of Barcelona, The Prada Museum in Madrid and the hanging houses of Cuenca.

We returned to England a number of times since my inaugural flight to visit relatives, spending time in a different part of that historic country with every visit. It was natural that the third book would take place in England. But what to write about when there is so much to see and do? I narrowed it down to sites in London such as Hampton Court, The Tower of London, Harrods and the London Eye. I also had Amanda visit The Isle of Wight and Windsor Castle, two of my favourite places. Amanda in England – The Missing Novel is one of my most popular books.

Amanda has since travelled down the Danube on a river cruise, gone on a school trip to New Mexico and visited the delightful country of Holland, as well as entertained her British friend in her home province of Alberta. All these stories are based on my own travel experiences. I get great enjoyment out of reliving my trips through the eyes of Amanda. Of course, she has way more adventures than I did.

Although these books are written in a style that children can easily read and understand, to my delight I find many adults enjoy them as well. One adult reader commented, “Amanda in Spain is a book for the young and the young-at-heart. Vivid descriptions of the country and its customs, humorous details, and enough tension that keeps you turning the page, make this a very enjoyable reading. I look forward to Amanda’s next adventure!”

Another adult reader had this to say about Amanda in New Mexico: “Even though I am way beyond the age bracket market this series is intended to, the child in me truly enjoyed Amanda and her classmates’ adventures on their school trip to New Mexico, discovering enchanting villages and people along the way and getting into all kinds of scraps that may or may not involve spirits and otherworldly phenomena. I especially enjoyed learning about a part of the world I have never been to, in particular, the town of Taos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its History, as well as the Day of the Dead celebrations and Doña Sebastiana, the female saint of death.”

I have many more ideas for future Amanda travels books and am currently working on Amanda in Malta. Readers keep asking, “Where is Amanda going next?” My only rule is it has to be somewhere I’ve visited myself. This means I’ll have to keep travelling so Amanda can visit more places and I can write more books!

Here are some useful links where you can find out more, connect with Darlene, and even buy her books!
Please visit Darlene, and give her some encouragement. She is a very helpful and engaged blogger, as well as being a huge asset to our community.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

Website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca/

Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Amazon author page https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

107 thoughts on “Guest Post: Darlene Foster

  1. Pete, it’s wonderful to find Darlene on your blog! 😀

    Darlene, I loved your post here and it’s been fascinating to discover your love of travel. Where your first experience would have turned many off the very notion of travel, you embraced it wholeheartedly! Isn’t it serendipity that a throw-away comment of your excitement being like that of a 12-year-old then inspiring you to write from that point of view! Now you have every excuse possible to travel as much as possible, visiting new countries, new sights galore … and to keep writing your books! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Annika. Life is amazing, isn’t it? It was so true, when I was there, I did feel as excited as a twelve-year-old. When I recalled her comment, it made me try writing the story from a child’s point of view. I will keep travelling and writing for as long as I can. xo

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s lovely to hear more about Darnele and her books, Pete. What a great guest post! She’s found the perfect excuse to go travelling and share her experiences with others. And telling it from a child’s perspective is a genius idea. Good luck and may Amanda keep travelling forever!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Audrey. I went on a camel ride in Egypt. Banging against the saddle left me black and blue the next day. Then again, it was a two-person camel, and I was on a double saddle with my wife. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thanks, Audrey. It is up there with one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I had fun writing the chapter where Amanda rides a camel for the first time. Of course, I had to include a camel in the book and I called him Ali Baba. He is the most popular character with the kids.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for introducing Darlene Foster to us, Pete. Reading, storytelling and travelling is something we always find fascinating. Lots to explore here. 🙂
    Best wishes from Cley – on our way to the Lake District in a few hours. x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I would feel like I was cheating if I wrote about Amanda in BC as I lived there for 25 years. But there would be so much to write about. Maybe a trip to Haida Gwaii. I would also like her to visit the Maritime Provinces. So many ideas and so little time. Thanks for planting the seeds. xo

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Diana. Ten years ago I would have never imagined that I would have a series of books out there. So it just goes to show that we should never stop striving to make our dreams come true.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your comment. Although I don’t have any extra money for travel, I have found ways to save up. Instead of going out for meals or getting take away, we eat in. Instead of buying clothes off the rack, I sew my own and make do with old furniture and vehicles. Even though I worked a full-time job, I often taught English in the evenings for extra holiday money. We always look for good deals on travel and have friends in many places we can stay with so that helps. I consider myself lucky that I have good health and am able to travel. I realize not everyone is so fortunate. I hope the books are enjoyable and perhaps provide armchair travel for the readers. xo

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I love the way you approached your writing and the clever way you turned your own travels into books. I am glad that Pete introduced you to us. I think it is time for Amanda to visit Boston. There is so much there for kids to enjoy.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I would love to visit Boston one day. Although I have visited many US cities, I haven’t been to Boston yet. I believe it would be very historical. Thanks for your comments, Elizabeth.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I know how much you love the Isle of Wight and I can see why. We stayed at a B and B in Cowes. Hubby was attending a boat show but I took a bus to Osborne House. We also went to Newport. These places are mentioned in the book. I’d love to return.

      Liked by 3 people

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