First, a bit about Darlene:
Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She's dabbled in writing since she was twelve, and her short stories have won a number of awards. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Readers from seven to seventy plus enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.
Why did you pick to write books for Middle Graders?
I write middle grade books because this is my favorite age. These are the tween years; they are not little kids anymore but not yet grown up either. I love the innocence of this age. This is also when children start to question issues and want to try new things. They begin to crave independence, but at the same time wish to stay in their comfort zone. It is a confusing time for many. Some will say I never really got past twelve myself.
What types of books do you like to read?
I like to read historical and contemporary books featuring strong girls and women who are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone. I read a wide range of genres.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
When I am not writing, I love to travel, read and meet new people.
Tell us about Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone and how the story came to be.
I got the idea for this book while doing a reading at a school in Medicine Hat, Alberta. One of the students asked me why I didn't write about Amanda in Alberta. I thought, ¨What a great idea!" I have always loved the fascinating geography and history of the province I was brought up in, so I created a mystery for Amanda and Leah to solve there. My aunt and I used to collect unique stones found on the prairies when we were kids, so a stone with a mark on it was ideal to create a mystery around.
Here's a peek at 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.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I have written three other books in the Amanda travel adventure series.
Amanda in Arabia—The Perfume Flask: Amanda goes to the United Arab Emirates where she makes a new friend, Leah, and has an adventure of a lifetime that includes a mysterious perfume flask, a beautiful princess, a loyal camel, and a chase across a dangerous desert.
Amanda in Spain—The Girl in the Painting: Amanda goes on a holiday with Leah in Spain, where they help a young girl, who looks a lot like a girl in a famous painting, find her beloved pony and escape the clutches of a mean horse thief.
Amanda in England—The Missing Novel: Amanda visits Leah in England where they get lost in a maze, hide in an underground tunnel and ride the London Eye while searching for a missing vintage novel with the help of Rupert, a Maine Coon cat.
I have also written a medieval story Pig on Trial/Cerdito a juicio which has been translated into Spanish and is sold as a bi-lingual book. Frederick, the family pig, has been arrested and Sebastian doesn't know how to save him.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?
I have completed Amanda on the Danube-The Sounds of Music which will be published in 2016. Amanda and Leah go on a picturesque river cruise which takes them through Germany, Austria and Hungary. Amanda is entrusted with a valuable violin by a mysterious young musician, and struggles to keep it from being taken from her.
I have just began writing Amanda in New Mexico-The Ghost Hotel. Amanda has many more adventures to go on.
What advice do you have for other authors?
Keep writing. Don't let setbacks discourage you. Go to conferences, take courses, join a critique group, and read, read, read.
Anything else you want readers to know?
Don't hesitate to be a child again. Many adults enjoy Middle Grade books. One adult reader planned her holiday in Alberta around all the places Amanda visited! I read MG books and then give them to my grandchildren. We have interesting conversations around these books. They call me the book grandma.
Where can readers find you and your books?