Thank you, Elizabeth, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing. I’ve loved Esme’s adventure in magical Aeolia and can’t wait for book 2!
Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate?
Impossible choice! I love chocolate in all its forms and eat too much of both. Easter is a dangerous time for me!
Coffee or Tea?
I adore coffee but limit myself to one a day – I love the buzz but my adrenals don’t. Peppermint tea is my next beverage of choice.
Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark?
I never dog-ear but I do write all over books, marking passages I love. I usually use bookmarks to keep my place. There are so many gorgeous ones to choose from.
Plot or Character?
My ideal reads have a focus on both. I like beautiful writing, which I feel is found more often in character-driven stories, but I also like to feel that the story is going somewhere.
HEA or unexpected twist?
I prefer a story that leaves me with a bit of hope but I’m also partial to a good twist along the way!
Q: Could you please share with us your publication journey?
A: Esme’s Wish took around nine years to come into being, from first idea to published book. I really had no idea what it would take to write a publishable novel, and naively thought it would take only a couple of years. I soon realized there is a huge amount of work involved! I persevered through many rewrites, taking on board suggestions for improvement, until the story was the best I could make it. Esme’s Wish finally made it out of the slush pile at Odyssey Books, who are publishing all three books in the series.
Q: I see that you loved Narnia & Enid Blyton and hence the ‘step into a magical world’ in Esme’s Wish. Aside from these classics, was there any particular real life incidents that inspired you to write this book?
A: Esme’s Wish began as a family project. I started writing the book with my then fourteen-year-old son, Chris. The initial impetus came at the end of the Harry Potter series, when I missed the world J.K. Rowling had created and decided to write a ‘feel good’ story of my own. Once I started writing, I felt more fulfilled and happier all round, so I just kept going! My son eventually decided to write a series of his own and we now edit each other’s work.
Q: What was the inspiration of ‘Esperance’? It sounds rather like Venice but with Greek culture?
A: I always envisioned that much of the story would take place in a canal city and the first one that came to mind was Venice. While a real-life city, to me Venice also has an otherworldly dreaminess all of its own. I visited twice during the long writing of the book and could easily imagine dragons flying over its rooftops! When it came to the Greek influences, I found that references to Homer’s Odyssey kept creeping into the story so I just ran with it.
Q: I can’t get past that opening scene! It’s not something that I’d be brave enough to do, facing off the whole village. When did you actually write this scene? Was this the first scene you wrote for the book or last?
A: That opening scene was written first. Every chapter needed plenty of rewriting, but the scene in the church stayed pretty much intact. I was a fairly quiet teenager, and I would never have objected at a wedding either! Fortunately writing gives you the freedom to do all sorts of things on the page that you might never be game to do in real life.
Q: How did you design the magic system? There seems to be a fascination with water?
A: You’re right about that! I love the ocean and water – as many Aussies do – so I knew it would feature in whatever I wrote. Water is a huge part of our world and often taken for granted, so I was happy to give it a starring role! With regards to the magic system, I made an effort to come up with Gifts that I hadn’t seen dozens of times in other stories, and when I did use a common magical trope, I tried to put my own spin on it.
Q: How many books in the series do you anticipate or have planned for? And what can we expect from Esme in these books?
A: There are three books planned in the series and I am almost halfway through writing the second. The series ages with the protagonist, so Esme turns sixteen in book two. In the first book, Esme is a little stuck in the past, due to the loss of her mother and the alienation she has experienced. She’s still playing catch up on things she missed out on as a child. However, in book two, entitled Esme’s Gift, Esme faces more of the typical challenges of her age group. She goes to school in Esperance and also explores the wider world of Aeolia on a special quest.
I don’t want to give too much away but expect more of the whimsy of book one, interwoven with some darker coming-of-age themes. The first book seems to appeal to preteens keen to step up to YA as well as younger teens and serves as a good introduction to the series. However, the next two are more firmly in YA readership territory and are likely to be more suited for ages twelve and up.
Q: Please share with us: your top 5 reads in 2017 and your 5 most anticipated releases in 2018
A: I am a slow reader and at least half the books I read are classics. My tastes are eclectic: my favourite books in 2017 were Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I also enjoyed a couple of dystopian novels, one old and one new: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (the basis for the movie Blade Runner) and The Pale by Clare Rhoden (another Odyssey author.)
Here’s five new releases I’m keen to read in 2018. The last three in the list are all debut novels by Australian authors.
The Surface Breaks by Susan O’Neill, a feminist retelling of the The Little Mermaid.
The Muse of Nightmares, Laini Taylor’s sequel to Strange the Dreamer.
The Way Home, the first in the Ashes of Olympus trilogy by Julian Barr, a YA historical fantasy based on Greek myth. (Odyssey Books.)
Beneath the Mother Tree by D.M. Cameron, a contemporary mystery set on a small island off the coast of Australia. (Midnight Sun.)
Small Spaces, a YA psychological thriller by Sarah Epstein. (Walker Books.)
About the author
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.