It’s Like a Fantasy Come True: Interview with Elizabeth Foster

#EsmesWish #BooksOnTour #BlogBlitz #Day3

Just Write For Kids and Books On Tour are excited to have the talented debut novelist, Elizabeth Foster sharing her insights about her sensational fantasy adventure, Esme’s Wish (review). Once displeased by the undesired nickname, Dizzy Lizzy, Elizabeth now regards her daydreaming as central to her writing. Glad to find out more about her and what makes her tick. Thanks, Elizabeth!


Firstly, congratulations on the release of your debut fantasy novel for tweens! Can you please tell us about your writing journey – how and when Esme’s Wish was first conceived and developed. Did it take any unexpected turns along the way or was it all smooth sailing? How did you deal with the challenges?

I first thought of writing a book eight or nine years ago when I was reading books to my own children. At the time, the only creative thing I was doing was regular painting classes, which I had doggedly attended for years. Our art teacher encouraged us to finish our paintings and put on a group exhibition, which we did. I then decided I would apply the same discipline to writing. I would show up to my desk each day, and I would start – and finish – a novel. I had no idea, of course, what lay ahead. I wrote many, many drafts, learning new aspects of the craft with each one. When I got to the point where most people would stick their manuscript in the bottom drawer and start again, I just kept going. Stubbornness must be a family trait, because my son, who is working on his own first novel, is doing exactly the same thing!

Esme is a strong, inquisitive and courageous character. Did you base her on anyone you know? How did you develop her personality and voice?

So much of a novel revolves around the protagonist, who drives the story and carries the greatest weight of reader’s expectations. I found it difficult to be objective about Esme – some of my own early teenage passivity permeated the story at one point. However, when I recognised what was happening, I was able to do something about it, and consciously made her more proactive. Early readers’ responses to how she was shaping up helped tremendously.

I don’t really base characters on anyone I know, but certain personality types certainly influence my writing. I’ve always liked strong female characters – Xena comes to mind. But I think there is also room for quieter, determined types who don’t necessarily have to carry a sword and bow or wear armour. Esme is strong because she doesn’t give up and because she has the courage to look for hard answers. In my view the wider variety of female protagonists we can offer the reader, the better!

Aeolia – a mystical land of dragons, palaces, traces of ancient gods and magical ‘Gifts’. Where did you draw your inspiration to create such a beautiful world in your mind’s eye? Was this an idea that simply materialised or did it take a lot of planning and research to create?

I had no real plan when I started writing, just lots of images in my mind’s eye. I wrote about things that excited me. For example, I am slightly (!) obsessed with water and the ocean so I knew that would play a big role in whatever I wrote. I love Venice, so that formed the basis for Esperance. I’d also recently read and loved Homer’s Odyssey, so Greek references kept creeping into the story, eventually becoming entwined with the world building. And magic and dragons were a given – I am watching Game of Thrones at the moment and whenever dragons appear, my attention locks on!

Another one of your talents is painting. Does this help you envision these fantasy worlds, like Esperance, as well as your poetic style of writing?

I’ve always thought visually. It is an entirely different beast, of course, to translate images into a coherent story, but I got better at it with practice. Description, which is often a chore for many writers, is one aspect I really enjoy and seems to come quite naturally to me. Sadly, though, I’ve had to kill quite a lot of my descriptive darlings to keep up the pace of the novel.

Esme’s Wish is the first of three in this intriguing series. Can you tell us a bit about the sequels?

The second and third books age with the protagonist and become a bit darker, while still maintaining the first book’s sense of wonder and whimsy. I am in the midst of writing the second book now, entitled Esme’s Gift. It looks like it will be a bit longer than the first book. That’s all I will say, for fear of spoilers!

Are you planning any other books outside of the ‘Esme‘ series?

I have a few ideas but nothing concrete. To be honest, I prefer to keep my head in Aeolia for now. It takes up all my energy and resources!

How have you marketed and promoted your book? Any tips you’ve learned that will help out new and unpublished authors?

My first piece of advice would be to make your book the best it can be. Treat the finished book as your calling card and make it one that demonstrates your commitment to your craft.

Secondly: don’t underestimate the importance of a good cover! My designer suggested a wraparound cover and the cover elements have turned out (serendipitously) to be a fantastic aid in the digital marketing of the book. I used the entire cover for the trailer and elements of it (such as the skyline of the city) for most of the other promotional material.

Thirdly, reviews are vital for establishing your presence and credibility. I give away lots of free books to bloggers for review purposes. Those reviews often also go up on platforms like Amazon and Goodreads, which are the first port of call for many readers when they are deciding whether to buy your book.

Finally, set up a social media presence early on. You will be amazed at how supportive the online community is, especially within Australia. Be sure to know the ins and outs of social media long before publication day.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being an author?

The writing itself! Writing fiction is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. Motherhood is up there too, although writing doesn’t involve changing dirty nappies! I came to writing late in life and wish I had discovered it much sooner. I think I spent of lot of my adult years vaguely dissatisfied, but now I wake up (most days) excited about what’s in store for me.

Fun Questions!
If you could choose any ‘Gift’, what would it be and why?

What I’d really love to do is fly, but if we’re limiting ourselves to Gifts from Esme’s Wish, I’d love to be a songstress, because I love music!

What is your favourite fantasy book/s of all time?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I have to indulge the younger me who was so ecstatic – I can still feel a little thrill even now – at the idea of a wardrobe that could take her to another world.

What hobbies or pasttimes do you enjoy getting lost in?

I love anything to do with nature – walking, swimming, going to the beach. Travel, too.

What were you like as a fifteen year old?

My early teen years were rather uneventful (I mostly remember being quite bored) but at fifteen I got the chance to go on exchange to the U.S. for a year, an experience which transformed me. Sometimes leaving one pond for another can reap immeasurable benefits. I came back to Australia with new confidence and the firm belief that life is what you make of it.

Thank you so much for answering our questions, Elizabeth! 🙂

Return to Elizabeth’s article on her winding road to publication.

Esme’s Wish is available for purchase in the Just Kids’ Lit Shop here.


#fantasy #mystery #youngadult #tweens 


Esme’s Wish Blog Blitz Schedule

Monday November 20 – Friday November 24

www.justkidslit.com/blog

PLuS!

Thursday November 23

Megan  Higginson – www.meganhigginson.com/blog

Friday November 24

Teena Raffa-Mulligan – http://intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

 


‘GIFT’ YOURSELF WITH ESME’S WISH! #BOOKGIVEAWAY!

Simply like or comment on any website or social media post on the Books On Tour Blog Blitz for Esme’s Wish for your chance to WIN a signed copy of this remarkable book.

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