Q and A with D.G. Kaye, Featuring Children’s Author Darlene Foster

Welcome to the last of 2019 author interviews. And I’m happy to send off the season with my featured author guest Darlene Foster. Darlene has recently released another book in her Amanda travels series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. And Darlene is already working on the next book in the series! Let’s find out what she’s up to!       About Darlene: 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.     Blurb: Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as 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. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned 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. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.   A review by Anne Mehrling from https://amehrling.com/ Amanda in Holland was a wonderful read.  I enjoyed the way Amanda and Leah interacted and the fast pace of the story.  Having the tale told mostly through conversation was different from the things I usually read.  It was very effective.  I don't often read thrillers, so I was kept guessing until you tied up all the loose ends.  The way you wove in historical places and events was marvelous.  It made me want to look back at the photos I took when we visited Holland.  That was almost 40 years ago, but you made the country come alive for me again. Thank you very much for sending me the book.  You are a fantastic writer, and reading this book was delightful.  I’ll be aware of your travels through your blog and wondering how you might use the setting for the next Amanda novel.   Now let’s get to know a little more about Darlene:   Do some of your own character traits or personal experiences spill into your book’s characters? Of course, I think it can´t be helped. As a writer creates characters, some of their own traits and experiences will naturally creep in. My main character, Amanda Ross, loves animals and enjoys travelling to different countries, as I do. She is well-read, inquisitive, enjoys cooking and likes to help people. These are all similar interests and attributes of mine. My books are based on my own travel experiences and I often include what I noticed and how I felt while visiting the location in my stories. Leah, Amanda’s friend, loves fashion and shopping, like I do. She is often impatient, as I can be, and says things I would say. I once read an interview with an author who suggested that all characters in a book have a bit of the writer in them, even the villains, as everyone has a light and a dark side. Food for thought. D.G. – I wholeheartedly agree Darlene. It would be hard not to incorporate parts of us or at least our observances on life into our stories.   What can you tell us you’ve gained from blogging as an author? I have been blogging for ten years and it has been an awesome experience. I have met many wonderful people, like you, in the blogging world that I would not have met otherwise. And I have learned so much from everyone. Fiction and nonfiction authors, travel writers, cooks, historians, animal lovers and environmentalists have all shared their knowledge and helped me become a better writer. Reading interviews like this, writing tips, unique news stories and information about other parts of the world have all contributed to my stories by giving me ideas and motivation. I consider the blogging community as part of the support group that helps me to eventually publish a book. So what I have gained is knowledge, inspiration, support and most of all friends! D.G.. – I would say that’s an apt description Darlene. Blogging and being part of a community who understands what the craft of writing means is a blessing, particularly when the people in our daily lives don’t have an inkling as to what’s involved.   Who is your favorite author and why? I have many favourite authors but Jane Austen is one of my all-time favourites. She was a master of character development. I love how she could take a small village or community and create a world we could all feel part of, full of interesting people we care about. She was so good at making fun of people as well. Oh to have her wit. The fact that people still enjoy her work two hundred years later speaks for itself. My reading time is limited so I seldom reread books, but I have reread her books a number of times and always learn something new when I do. D.G. – We can only wish people will share interest in our books when we’re too long gone.   Where do you believe your passion for storytelling originated from? I was a lucky kid. We didn’t have a TV in our home until I was eleven years old. For entertainment, I made up stories in my head. I would have my teddy bears and dolls act out my stories. There was an old abandoned Model T Ford on our property which my aunt and I would sit in and pretend we were on driving holidays all over the world, having adventures. I also come from a long line of storytellers. My grandfather loved to tell stories as did his father. Sitting around the dinner table, we were encouraged to share stories when I was growing up. Even when we eventually got a TV, it was never on while we ate. Our father would often tell us stories before bed and I would continue them in my mind before I fell asleep. It is an inherent passion. D.G. – An inherent gift more like it, lol. How amazing that you were encouraged to share your stories. No surprise that you’ve carried on that childhood trait of creating stories and now writing for other children to help them create their own fantasies.   Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on? I have completed the first draft of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady and have begun the editing process. The release is scheduled for spring 2021. In this adventure, Leah is in Malta and she’s in trouble. Amanda, desperate to help her friend, travels to Malta with her friend Caleb and his parents. She is intrigued with this exotic place full of colourful history, limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But, who is shooting the birds and who stole the Sleeping Lady from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, gorgeous islands, an exciting falconry and Popeye’s Village while trying to unravel the mystery of the Sleeping Lady. I have also scribbled some notes for Amanda in France. I have an idea for a picture book and possibly a graphic novel. I am also working on an anthology of creative nonfiction short stories about growing up on the Canadian prairies. There is no rest for the creative. D.G. – You are such a dynamo Darlene! No doubts the Amanda fans will be thrilled to hear the series continues! I wish you great continued success!   And now for an Excerpt of Amanda in Holland: They all piled into the car, Leah in the front, Amanda and Jan in the back with Joey between them. Amanda enjoyed the scenery as they drove along the highway. “It’s so flat and very green.” Jan explained how Holland is actually below sea level in many places, and dykes were built to keep the water out. “No doubt you have heard the story of the little boy and the dyke?” “No, I haven’t.” Amanda shook her head. “Tell us?” “Well,” Jan began, “a long time ago, a small boy was on his way to school when he noticed a leak in the dyke. He saw the seawater trickle through the opening and knew that even a small hole could eventually become bigger. If too much water flowed through, the village could be flooded. So, he poked his finger into the hole to stop the water, even though it meant he would be late for school and get into trouble. He stood there with his finger in the hole for a long time, until eventually someone saw him and got help. The hole was repaired, and the boy became a hero for saving his village.” “That is such a great story. Is it true?” asked Amanda. “It’s more like a legend. The story is told to children to show them that even a small child can prevent a disaster if they use their wits. Actually, an American author, Mary Mapes Dodge, first wrote about it a hundred and fifty years ago in her book, Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates.” “That’s so interesting, don’t you think, Leah?” “Yeah, sure.” Leah turned the page of her fashion magazine. “I heard that story when I was a little girl. What do you think of this outfit?” She turned around and held up the page. Amanda smiled. “That’s very nice. It would look good on you.” Everyone kept quiet as they passed more farm buildings and neatly tilled fields. “Turn left,” said the GPS woman. Mr. Anderson turned the corner and slammed on the brakes. A large, angry goose stood in the middle of the road with its wings flapping and neck stretched forward as it honked. Amanda laughed. “What a silly goose!” “That’s my grandfather’s goose. He likes to think he is protecting the property,” said Jan. “You mean he’s like a guard goose.” Amanda grinned. Jan got out of the car and spoke to the goose in Dutch. The irate bird finally left the road and waddled into the field, his eye still on them. Leah’s dad rolled down the window. “Thanks, mate. I wasn’t sure how we would get past him. Get back in and we’ll take you to where you need to be.” Jan climbed back into the car. “You can drop me off over there.” He pointed to a farmyard in the distance. As they neared the farm, Amanda noticed the rustic house with a sloping roof that looked like a face with a large, slouched hat pulled over its eyes. “Is this where your grandparents live?” “Yes, they have always lived here, and so has my great-grandmother. It’s her family home,” answered Jan. The place looked inviting and cozy. Someone pulled aside a lace curtain and peered out the window. Grey eyes met Amanda’s. The curtain dropped.   Thank you so much, Debby for this opportunity to answer your questions. Should I ever get to Toronto we … Continue reading Q and A with D.G. Kaye, Featuring Children’s Author Darlene Foster