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