Growing Bookworms – Meet children’s book author, Darlene Foster, and learn about her Amanda travel series and a review #childrensfiction #bookreview #growingbookworms

Today, I am delighted to introduce Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda travel series of books for children aged 9 to 12 years old. I have read several of the Amanda books and enjoyed them all.

Your Amanda stories appeal to me as they take me back to my own childhood readings days of The Famous Five and Adventure series. Was there any particular children’s author who influenced the style of your Amanda series?

That makes me very happy to hear this since the Enid Blyton books were very popular. I didn’t read the Famous Five series growing up in Canada, but I enjoyed The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope as they travelled to interesting places, encountered danger and solved mysteries. I also enjoyed Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, and Nancy Drew because the main character in each series is a young girl who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries. The author who influenced me the most was Lucy Maude Montgomery. She created a character I totally admired. Anne Shirley is spunky, caring, positive and resourceful. Her relationship with her best friend, Diana Barry, is described incredibly well, as is the setting in the charming province of Prince Edward Island.

Are the characters of Amanda and Leah based on any particular person or people?

Amanda is the twelve-year-old me I would have liked to have been. I felt my life was boring living on a farm and dreamt of travelling the world. So there is a bit of little me in Amanda. The great thing about being a writer is that you can recreate your childhood and be whoever you want to be! Leah is a combination of some of my closest friends as well as a dear aunt who is my age. Leah is Amanda’s, Diana Barry.

When you visit schools and chat to the children, how do they react to the travel element of the Amanda books? Do they find it exciting and exotic or do some find it scary and overwhelming?

I am always amazed at how many of the students have done a lot of travelling already. One of my first questions at a school presentation is, “How many of you have travelled to other countries?” There is always a sea of hands. Then I ask if they have been to the country in my most recent book. There are usually some who have travelled there. The classrooms are very diverse these days and many of the students were born in a country other than Canada or the US. The international schools I visit in Spain contain students from all over the world. Children are much more well travelled these days for various reasons. They always suggest I write a book that takes place in their or their parents’ original country. I would say that most children today relate to the travel element of my books. If they haven’t been to the countries I’ve written about, they plan to visit them someday.

What comes first, the setting, characters, or the plot idea?

For me, the setting always comes first. I choose a place that I find intriguing and go from there. The two main characters, Amanda and Leah are always the same, but I have fun coming up with a few new ones for each story.  The plot is the last thing I work on and the part I find the most difficult at times. It usually evolves as I write the story.

What are your goals for the Amanda series? Are you planning to make it a long-term series like The Famous Five?

As long as people continue to want to read these books, I plan to continue writing them. There are so many more places Amanda could visit. I’m currently working on book number ten, Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones.  There are twenty-one Famous Five books; I’m not sure I’ll write that many but you never know!

Books for children are harder to market than books for adults. How do you go about marketing your books and what works best for you?

This is true. Word of mouth is always the best; getting the books in the hands of children is vital so they can spread the word. Visiting schools, libraries, and book stores is effective but not always possible. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing virtual visits to schools all over the world. This has been great for getting the students, teachers and school librarians to know about my books. I have learned that I need to market the books to adults as well since they are the ones who actually purchase the books and write the reviews. Being part of a blogging community has worked well for me as everyone is so supportive and helpful in getting the word out about my books. I have also learned a lot from other bloggers/writers. Marketing is ongoing, and there is a huge learning curve.

Thank you, Robbie, for the opportunity to talk about my books and writing in general.

You are a delightful guest, Darlene, and I am thrilled to host you here and discuss your books.

My review of Amanda in France

Amanda in France is the latest in the adventure series of books by Darlene Foster. I have read several of the books in this series, and enjoyed them all. The author has a marvelous way of integrating historical and environmental landmarks into her works in a natural and interesting way that is appealing to young readers.

Amanda and Leah are fortunate enough to accompany Aunt Jenny to Paris, France. Paris is a fascinating location and Amanda is completely bowled over by the sights, sounds, and foods on offer. The threesome are staying in a dormitory attached to the Shakespeare and Company book store, where they will work a couple of hours each day. Amanda, a great lover of books, is delighted and can’t wait to share her book knowledge and enthusiasm with others and promote reading.

Naturally, the girls meet a wide spectrum of new people, including the fascinating but mysterious, Phillipe Lawrence, an older man who is doing research for a book; Jerome, a young man who has become involved with some dodgy friends; and Pierre, who works at the Paris Opera House.

The new characters and fabulous sites set the stage for another exciting and interesting Amanda adventure that includes their visiting famous gardens, graveyards, and helping to save works of art during the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Congratulations to the author on another exciting and well written adventure story.

Purchase Darlene Foster’s books

Darlene Foster’s Amazon Author page

Amazon UK

About Darlene Foster

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, traveling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not traveling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Darlene has a blog where she shares here stories and adventures here:

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews.

112 Comments on “Growing Bookworms – Meet children’s book author, Darlene Foster, and learn about her Amanda travel series and a review #childrensfiction #bookreview #growingbookworms”

  1. Reblogged this on Robbie's inspiration and commented:

    My February Growing Bookworms article features talented children’s book author, Darlene Foster, and my review of her latest book, Amanda in France, Fire in the Cathedral. Thank you to Kaye Lynne Booth for hosting.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Norah says:

    I love the Amanda series for adventure and excitement. I highly recommend them.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. marianbeaman says:

    You don’t have to convince me that Darlene’s writing fits her perfect niche. And I don’t why I didn’t detect this sooner, but until now I didn’t realize that Amanda is the 12-year-old Darlene wished to be. And the author has traveled far and wide, a clever way to invent “fun” settings for her character. Also, I was surprised that so many youngsters have explored foreign lands too.

    Well done, Darlene and Robbie! 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    • Darlene says:

      Thank you, Marian. I am always so surprised at how well travelled today’s children are, compared to my generation. We were lucky to get to the city near us once a month.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Marian, lovely to see you. I also love the marvelous places Amanda has visited. When I was in the IK, outside of London, I was surprised by how few kids have even visited London, never mind abroad. That’s actually why I asked the question. Canadian children seem to get about more than some other countries.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Wonderful interview, Darlene and Robbie. Wishing you both all the best. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Darlene says:

    Thank you, Robbie, for featuring me and Amanda here today. Great interview questions.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Darlene says:

    Reblogged this on Darlene Foster's Blog and commented:
    I am honoured to be featured on Growing Bookworms today where I’m interviewed by Robbie Cheadle. Her fabulous review of Amanda in France is also included. A great day for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I would love to have lived on a farm, Darlene! You should have seen where I came from, lol.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Fantastic interview, ladies!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Hi Darlene and Robbie – great interview! I enjoyed learning more about how you developed your Amanda character and how it relates to aspects of your childhood. I agree that younger children (particularly in Europe?) have traveled to other countries a great bit more than you’d think. Thanks for sharing your review, too, Robbie!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. How wonderful to see Darlene hosted here with you. I love the question about kids traveling. That would surprise me, too!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. joylennick says:

    Well-earned praise for Darlene`’s Amanda series. I buy them for my nieces as I have no grand-children, and they love them. Thanks too to Robbie Cheadle for the great review. Robbie is no slouch either when it comes to writing, together with her sons… or cooking…Do look out for their delightful books.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. D.L. Finn, Author says:

    Great interview and post! I enjoyed Amanda visiting Frances too. It is so true it is harder to market kid’s books, but more satisfying interacting with the younger readers.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. memadtwo says:

    Everyone loves a good series, especially children. The character become friends. This sounds like a good one. (K)

    Liked by 3 people

  14. beetleypete says:

    Great to see the lovely Darlene featured, Robbie. Shared both posts on Twitter.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. You’ve asked excellent questions, Robbie! I enjoyed reading Darlene’s responses. Sharing on Facebook.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. petespringerauthor says:

    I’m not surprised to learn that Darlene used to read the Nancy Drew books because the Amanda series reminds me of those. The Hardy Boys (the male version of Nancy Drew) was the first series that got me turned on to reading.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Toni Pike says:

    Loved learning more about Darlene – and the fabulous Amanda series. Always a pleasure to see her. Toni x

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Jan Sikes says:

    A wonderful interview, Darlene! I love what you said about how writers can recreate any aspect of their lives they might wish would have been different. So true. Fantastic! Thank you for hosting, Robbie.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Annika Perry says:

    Thank you for your lovely review, Robbie and this is sure to be another huge success! Darlene has captured the reader’s imagination with this series, wonderful engaging characters and the freedom to roam the world for fascinating locations! Congratulations, Darlene! Always interesting to read your bio and I love how your life straddles not only two countries but also two continents!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. A lovely interview Robbie with Darlene. As a big fan of travel and a young at heart ❤️ I adore these books.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Resa says:

    This sounds great! Robbie has opened my eyes to the world of children’s books. Congratulations to both!
    Wonderful interview!

    Liked by 3 people

  22. olganm says:

    I’m sure I would have loved Darlene’s books as a child, as I didn’t do much travelling when I was young but loved the idea of it, and her characters sound amazing. Congratulations to her, and best of luck with her future writing as well. Thanks, Robbie!

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Jane Risdon says:

    Wonderful to see Darlene here, thanks Robbie. A fab author and lovely lady. x

    Liked by 3 people

  24. What a great review and series. Congratulations Darlene.
    How great to hear your books are continuing to touch hands and hearts of kids this age. I love the series and look forward to reading!

    Liked by 3 people

  25. I’d forgotten The Bobbsey Twins! Love all of your books, Darlene, and can’t wait for Amanda’s adventure in Scotland.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. I was so intrigued to learn that so many children these days have traveled. That wasn’t my experience growing up, and few of my friends traveled. I love that kids are exposed to the world. Amanda (and Darlene) open doorways to new places with a bit of history and adventure. A great series. Keep ’em coming, Darlene. Excellent interview, Robbie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Diana, it wasn’t my experience that children travelled much when I was young either. Most South African children still don’t get to travel. It is a wonderful learning experience for those children who do get the opportunity.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Darlene says:

      Thanks, Diana. Travelling is so much easier and affordable now than it was 50 – 60 years ago. Parents don’t think twice about packing up the kids and going for a long-distance holiday. I know young couples that take their babies and toddlers overseas. Also, people’s jobs take them to other parts of the country and overseas, not to mention many children were born in another country and immigrated to where they are now. It’s just a much more global world isn’t it? I hope my books encourage children to travel and see the world and learn to accept others’ differences. xo

      Liked by 3 people

  27. Teri Polen says:

    Love the Amanda series! I grew up reading The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew, Darlene. I love that you’ve been able to visit with so many kids around the world via Zoom – but also some in person.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Great interview and review Robbie!! Can’t wait to get our oldest grandchild into Darlene’s series (she’s six and just getting into reading short stories).

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Good interview and smart point about marketing to the adults who are actually the ones that buy children’s books. I enjoyed Amanda in France so much!

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Ari says:

    Excellent interview. It’s nice to see more children have been travelling to other countries as travel can really expand the mind. I never really thought about how much more difficult it must be to market children’s books. After all, marketing a book to an adult, who is the one to buy it is certainly easier than marketing a child book that a parent or friend would need to buy for the child.

    I’m looking forward to when my niece is old enough for them as they are definitely books I’ll be getting her as gifts 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  31. Jennie says:

    Fabulous interview, Robbie. I am an Amanda fan.

    Liked by 3 people

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