I'm happy to introduce Elizabeth Foster and her debut novel for tweens, Esme's Wish, as a part of her Books On Tour promotion. Esme’s Wish is a fantasy novel, which I had the privilege read prior to release and I adore it.
Megan: Good morning, Elizabeth. Shall we begin?
Elizabeth: Hi! Fire away with the questions.
Megan: When did you know that you were a writer?
Elizabeth: I always knew I wanted to do something creative, but didn’t know what, so I put it on the back burner and focused on raising my children instead. I loved books but never dreamed I would write one.
When I first started writing Esme’s Wish, my sister, who was also writing at the time, asked me if I thought I was now a writer. I said I didn’t really know. What I did know, deep inside – don’t ask me how – was that if I worked hard and never gave up, I would get there one day.
Megan: Wow! So, Esme’s Wish was your first book. I just wanted to let you know how much I loved Esme’s Wish. As I wrote in my review on Goodreads, Esme’s Wish should come with a warning not to start reading before bed, especially if you have to get up early.
Esme’s Wish, published by Odyssey Books, is your first novel. Where did the inspiration for Esme’s Wish come from?
Elizabeth: Thanks, Megan. I feel both guilty and glad that you lost sleep over it! I first got the idea after I finished reading the Harry Potter series. I loved that series so much that I didn’t want to leave the world J.K. Rowling had created.
As I wrote, my own world started to evolve: an oceanic realm enchanted by the gods, that blended elements of Greek mythology with a Venetian aesthetic. I love Venice, and imagined a similar dreamy canal city for my story. Venice is already a magical place, so it wasn’t hard to add in a little magic of my own.
Megan: I love how such a different book to the Harry Potter series was inspired by it.
How long did Esme’s Wish take to write?
Elizabeth: Around eight or nine years ago from first idea to finish. I wrote about things I enjoyed – the ocean, magic, dragons – so it was intrinsically interesting to me, otherwise I would have given up long ago. I was really obsessed for a long time – just ask my long-suffering family!
Megan: I love that you were obsessed over it. The fact that you were passionate about what you were writing shows through in the incredible world you’ve created.
When you started writing Esme’s Wish, did you realise how long it would take and how much determination it would take to finish?
Elizabeth: I was a complete novice and had no notion of what it would take to bring my book to publishable standard, or the immense effort it would take to find a publisher. I thought it would take a few years, not nine!
My writing journey was full of false starts and wrong turns and plenty of tears. I suppose it was a combination of determination and pride in my craft that kept me going. I also knew that once the book was published, it would be my calling card – so I was determined to give it my best shot.
When I felt it was ready to fly, I entered Esme’s Wish in competitions, mainly so I could get it read in full by publishers! It didn’t win, or get shortlisted, but positive comments from a leading commissioning editor gave me a much-needed confidence boost. I kept polishing, working especially on characterization and pace, and was still tweaking it right up until publication day.
Megan: Your dedication to the story, and you constantly improving your craft certainly shows in your novel. And you’re right. When you first start out and think about writing a novel, or a picture book — anything really — you really don’t know what you are in for, or how much dedication, and sometimes just plain stubbornness and refusing to give up, it will take to see your book published.
Elizabeth: Yes, a certain amount of stubbornness is required. And grit, and patience. I admire anyone who manages to get a book published.
Megan: Writing fantasy is so freeing as it leaves so much scope for the imagination. Some of the ways you approached the various fantasy elements such as the tidal pool, and how the locals of Aeolia interact with their environment, as well as the local laws, customs, and festivals was wonderful. Even down to the way you dropped clues all the way through, and tied up everything neatly by the last page of the book. I was screaming for more, but at the same time I was deeply satisfied by what I had read, and experienced.
How did you create such a rich world?
Elizabeth: Megan, I'm blushing from all your compliments. Thank you! These are the sort of words an author hopes to hear but isn't sure if they ever will! I know that some fantasy writers plan out their world meticulously before they even start to write, but I am more of a pantser (making up things up as I go along) than a plotter when it comes to the fantasy aspects.
Much of the detail comes as the story evolves. Some ideas come from everyday life and experiences. For example, my family and I used to go on holidays to the N.S.W. South Coast and would often swim in a rock pool there. That little pool sparked my imagination and a version of it ended up in the story.
Megan: I write the same. I'm an organized person so I thought I would plan my story, my novel. But, I couldn’t. So, after asking Jen Storer in her Girl and Duck Q & Q Friday, about where should I start, as I only had about three scenes written and nothing else, and her telling me just to write, play and have some fun learning about the story as I go, I just dived right in.
I recently listened to an interview with Kate Forsyth. It was on the So You Want to be a Writer podcast, episode 204. When Kate was asked if she was a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’ she said she didn’t like the term ‘pantser.’ Rather, she prefers to say that she writes intuitively. I like that phrase better myself. It certainly sounds like you write that way too.
So, will there be a sequel to, Esme’s Wish?
Elizabeth: Esme’s Wish is the first of three books in the Esme series. I am presently working on the sequel, Esme’s Gift. It continues Esme’s adventures in the world of Aeolia and ties up unfinished business from book one, as well as introducing more complications, of course.
Megan: Did you always know Esme’s Wish was going to be a series?
Elizabeth: Yes, and I am very glad that I planned it that way. Everything is now in place for the sequels, which is making writing them so much easier. Writing series seems to run in the family, too. My son is also writing one.
Megan: I'm sure planning the overarching story would certainly help. And that’s great that you have inspired your son too.
Writing can be a lonely occupation. Do you have a cheer squad to spur you on? Do you belong to a writer’s group, or similar?
Elizabeth: I haven’t had much success with critique partners but fortunately I live with a secret weapon, my son, Chris. I rely heavily on his advice. He has not only edited many drafts of my book but has also been a fantastic help for brainstorming plot ideas or helping me climb out of plot holes. Now I am editing his first novel, a mammoth but awesome epic fantasy, the first in a series of five. While I am desperate to get back to writing my own sequel, debts must be paid!
Megan: That’s wonderful that you have someone that can help you so much. And wow! A five-book series. A mammoth task indeed to edit an epic fantasy novel.
What advice do you have for authors?
Elizabeth: Apart from the obvious one – write a lot – take time to read books where the prose is of an immaculate standard. If you do, your own writing will improve in leaps and bounds. Read widely - classics as well as contemporary, and non-fiction, too.
I like these words by Steve Martin, words which helped tide me through. The quote was in fact serendipitously pinned to the twitter feed of my publisher, Odyssey Books, when I was offered a publishing contract with them.
"Be so good they can't ignore you." ~ Steve Martin.
Megan: Brilliant advice, Elizabeth. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Elizabeth: Only to say thank you for taking the time to find out about my writing life so far. And for liking my book!
Megan: My pleasure, Thanks for your time, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: Thanks Megan.
Three fun facts about Elizabeth:
I’d love to own a cat, but I’m allergic, so I put them in my books instead!
One of my most prized possessions is my space pen, with which I can write upside down in bed. (Yes, I know I can use a pencil.)
A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, especially the ocean. I’ve always lived close by water.
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. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee. Esme’s Wish is her debut novel. Find out more about Elizabeth at www.elizabethfoster.com.au
For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.
Follow the tour:
Monday November 20 - Friday November 24
Thursday November 23
Megan Higginson - www.meganhigginson.com/blog
Friday November 24
Teena Raffa-Mulligan - www.teenaraffamulligan.com
When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the impulsive action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother – so why can’t she? But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.
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