#EsmesWish #BooksOnTour #BlogBlitz #Day2

Elizabeth Foster generously shares her journey to publication with us today for her Esme’s Wish blog tour. See how she found a publishing home that perfectly fits her book’s unique crossover between age range and unobstrusive yet beguiling themes. Thanks, Elizabeth! ☺️

If you’re an aspiring author, no doubt you’ve heard some permutation of the following advice countless times: “Write something you would enjoy!” “Don’t try and pigeonhole your work into a particular genre or category!”

This advice for beginners is well-meaning and wise, to an extent. It can jumpstart you on the addictive path of fiction writing, a journey that can be immensely satisfying and fulfilling. But when it comes to finding a publisher – particularly for a young audience – this advice can be somewhat unhelpful. The publishing industry is, after all, an industry: and security invariably outweighs risk, even if it sometimes comes at the cost of creativity. Nine times out of ten, publishers prefer works that slot nicely into established categories – it’s much easier to make books fly off the shelves when you already have a built-in audience!

I learned this the hard way. My debut novel, Esme’s Wish, overlaps between two major categories: the upper echelons of middle grade (8-12 years of age) and the lower reaches of YA (12-18). In other words, it appeals to both advanced middle grade readers and youngish YA readers. Partly because of this, finding a publisher was an arduous journey (from which I am still recovering!) Eventually, however, Esme’s Wish found a home with small press Odyssey Books: “Where books are an adventure.” Thankfully, it seems their definition of ‘adventure’ also extends to the books they take on!

Maybe I should have tried harder to tailor my book to fit established categories, but in the end, I didn’t. Firstly, I couldn’t: the book just wouldn’t let me! Esme’s Wish had a mind of its own, and no matter how much I fiddled and tweaked, it refused the major surgery needed to age it up or down. I did however continue to improve the manuscript over those couple of years of rejections. The reception to the book has been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m sure this extra time working on character and pace had something to do with it.

This response, while incredibly gratifying, has also given rise to some musings on my part. Over these past few weeks I’ve been thinking that perhaps the ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for young adult titles – the idea that a book for an eighteen-year-old is also suitable for a twelve-year-old – isn’t really working. Due to the drift towards more adult content in recent years, YA shelves are swelling with books for older teens, while the range for younger teens dwindles. Sure, some twelve-year-olds devour advanced books with dark themes, but others just aren’t ready for them.

Esme’s Wish is about mystery, adventure, friendship and other worlds, and features little romance or violence. But the story also deals with complex themes like growing up and the loss of one’s innocence, and readers seem to like the mix. From one Goodreads reviewer:

“…Unlike most YA fantasy, Esme’s Wish is not focused on a romance or even about a war or rebellion against some evil force. Rather, it is a story of familial love and friendship. While Esme seeks to uncover the mystery surrounding her mother, her friendship and teamwork with her friends grows.”

Younger teens don’t need to be condescended to, but they also shouldn’t feel pressured into reading things they’re not ready for. And in my view, there is no harm in keeping one foot in the magic and wonder of childhood while acknowledging that adulthood is looming ever closer. Kids, after all, enter adolescence having suffered their own kind of loss: the loss of the often-dreamy days of childhood. My own kids coped with this partly by reminiscing about the ‘good old days’. All through their teenage years, they remembered the simplicity of their childhood with fondness. Occasionally, they even expressed a little regret for not appreciating it at the time. Nostalgia starts young!

Books that smooth over this transition are needed more than ever, and hopefully, Esme’s Wish fills this gap. I’ll finish with a few fantasy titles – both middle grade and young adult – with similar themes or focus to Esme’s Wish.

The Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce – Female-centric fantasy.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – Finding a new world that your parent has hidden from you.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan – Greek myths and a search for a missing parent.

Magic and Madness by Jaclyn Moriarty – family secrets and magic portals with a 15-year-old protagonist.

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee. Find out more about Elizabeth at her website, Facebook and Instagram accounts. 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



Thursday November 23

Megan  Higginson – www.meganhigginson.com/blog

Friday November 24

Teena Raffa-Mulligan – www.teenaraffamulligan.com



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.

For more details please click here.

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2 thoughts to “Esme’s Wish: The Winding Road to Publication by Elizabeth Foster

  • Debra Tidball

    Well done Elizabeth. I’m glad Esmes wish found a publishing home and a home among readers.


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