Today, I’m excited to welcome a fellow Sydneysider (person from Sydney) to Booktastik. Elizabeth Foster is a traditionally published author whose debut fantasy novel is out through Odyssey Books. With bestselling author, Wendy Orr saying, “A fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world,” it sounds like lovers of high fantasy are going to enjoy this one.
Hi, Elizabeth, and welcome to Booktastik! Congratulations on your publishing deal and debut novel. Getting a publishing deal is not an easy feat. How long did it take you to secure a publisher?
Thanks so much Dionne. Nice to (virtually) meet another Sydneysider!
I looked for a publisher for two or three years before finally finding one. I was down to the last few names on my list! Editors loved my writing but found it hard to convince their marketing arms to take on my book, as it crosses age categories, appealing to both preteens and younger teens. However, I’m finding that readers don’t seem to have any problems with that!
How long have you been writing, and what made you decide to publish?
I’m what some might call a ‘late bloomer.’ I always knew I wanted to do something creative but only discovered writing in my mid-forties. I’ve been writing for around nine years now but have devoted much more time to it in the last few years. There wasn’t one particular moment where I decided I wanted to be published – I just hoped that if I worked hard enough to hone my craft, then eventually I’d produce a story others might want to read.
Do you have a set time where you sit and write, or do you have to work around a job and/or children?
My children are grown up, apart from one teenage daughter, so I have more time than most parents to write. I work ‘school hours’ on my books and plan to get back to that routine once this busy promotion period is over.
Do you have a routine you follow before the words will flow (does there need to be coffee or music)?
I do rely on a coffee each morning! I used to play piano, too, to help get my brain going, and you’ve just reminded me to start that up again! Mostly, though, it is just a matter of clearing distractions and starting… the best routine for me is staying in the writing zone for a set number of hours.
When do you find your best inspiration comes?
First thing in the morning, when I have had a good night’s sleep. Also in the shower, or any time I feel relaxed!
How did you get the idea for Esme’s Wish, and what’s it about?
When I finished reading the last Harry Potter book many years ago, I missed that world so much that I decided to write a story of my own. Because I knew it would take me a long time to get my story to a publishable standard, I wrote about things I loved, things that inspired me – the ocean, magic, magical creatures – so that I wouldn’t get bored and give up.
The story follows fifteen-year-old Esme Silver, who sets out to look for her long-missing mother. The first few chapters are set in the ‘ordinary’ world before Esme is transported to the alternate world of Aeolia. In the glittering canal city of Esperance, with the help of new friends, she untangles the threads of her mother’s double life, making some surprising – and harrowing – discoveries along the way.
Did your characters ever surprise you by what they did or where they wanted to take the story?
This is happening much more in book two of the series, which I’m writing now. What was surprising about the first book was the way it almost formed its own personality. It would violently reject some edits, while embracing others. The writing process is a fascinating one.
What are the themes of Esme’s Wish, and were they conscious choices on your part, or only visible once you’d stepped back on completion and looked at the story as a whole?
The main themes are (familial) love, loss, loyalty, and friendship – but they weren’t conscious choices on my part. They just emerged as the novel progressed.
Is this a standalone fantasy or part of a series?
I’ve always planned to write three books in the series, and so far it is working out okay. 🙂
Often, authors think writing the novel and going through edits is hard, but then they get to the promotion stage and the work begins again. How are you finding the promotion stage?
So much work! I am itching to get back to writing but haven’t had any time yet. Eventually, though, I am hoping to achieve an 80/20 balance with my book-related time – 80% of my time spent writing (and reading, which is so important) and 20% spent on promotion/marketing. I used to enjoy working in marketing back in my twenties and that part of my brain is slowly cranking back into action – that has been a huge help. I think authors have to be strategic with their marketing decisions or they will never have time to write again!
I hear you there :).
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I love Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling of course, Maggie Stiefvater and Australian author, Melina Marchetta.
What’s been your favourite part of writing and publishing so far?
Actually sitting down to write is the hardest task, but once I’m ‘in the zone’, I enjoy almost everything about it! When it comes to publishing, I get a special buzz thinking that my book is being read by fantasy lovers from all over the world. My book is travelling to places I may never get to go – Alaska, Nigeria, and India amongst them – and each time I gain a reader in a far-flung place, it’s like a little piece of me has travelled there, too. And positive reviews are always nice, too.
Are you working on a new book at the moment, and if so, can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m writing the second book in the series, entitled Esme’s Gift. It continues on from where book one left off and is a little bit darker. The series ages along with the protagonist.
And lastly, if you could be any mythical creature, what would you be and why?
A sea dragon. I adored the song ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ as a child, and the idea of being able to live by the sea and spend my days flying through the air or swimming under the ocean really appeals to me!
I remember that song! And nice choice :).
Thanks so much for joining us today, Elizabeth! It’s been lovely getting to know more about your writing process and Esme’s Wish.
Readers, if you’d like to check out Esme’s Wish, you can grab the ebook or paperback from Amazon, and the ebook also from Kobo, and Google Play. And if you’d like to connect with Elizabeth on Social Media, you can reach her on her website and Facebook. Happy reading!
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