Melissa Foster first novel, Megan's Way, really touched me when I read it. I couldn't wait for her newest release, Chasing Amanda, to fall into my hands! You can read my review here. Here is an interview with her about Chasing Amanda and life as a writer.
How did you come up with the story line for Chasing Amanda?
I used to run on White Ground Road every morning. It is just as creepy as it is beautiful. One day, while running alone, I thought about the woods that surrounded the road, and the density of them. My mind began to wander, and soon I was imagining a little girl lost in the woods--only she wasn't alone. From there, the story took shape.
What did you find most difficult while writing your story?
This was a difficult story to flesh out. While I knew what the premise would be, I was torn between making it fit into the suspense or mystery genre, as people were pushing me toward, and writing it as a general or women's fiction book. Finding some sort of middle ground was a difficult task, and in writing, you are not supposed to cross-genres. I've never been conventional, so writing this book as a women's fiction with a mystery or suspenseful slant was the road I took. I had to follow my heart, not necessarily the rules, and while that isn't a difficult thing for me to do personally, I knew it would pose a few difficulties when selling.
Molly, the main character, has a supernatural gift of having visions. In Megan's Way, the mother had a supernatural gift as well. What sparked the use of these gifts in your storylines and do you see your future work following the same path?
Yes, they both do. This is what came to me, what needed to be for these particular characters. I'm very interested in things that go beyond the "norm", so for me, those aspects also made these books fun to write. My next book, Come Back To Me (working title), does not have any of those paranormal aspects, and neither does my fourth, Shades of Gray (working title). My fifth, however, does. It looks like I may weave in and out of the paranormal for many of my books.
I know that Megan's Way has a screen adaptation floating around out there in Hollywood. I could totally see Chasing Amanda going in the same direction. Do you have any plans to do this? Who would you like to see play the main characters? I can totally see Kathy Bates playing the pastor's role!
Right now, it's actually floating around Texas. Casting is underway and we hope to begin production this summer. At this point I'm not looking to go down the same path, but if the opportunity should arise, I would consider it.
Chasing Amanda was originally titled The Knowing, correct? Why did you decide on Chasing Amanda?
This goes back to my difficulty in finding the right genre for the book. While I loved the title, The Knowing, this story was really also driven by the main character's inner turmoil of having witnessed an abduction and not having taken action. I wanted a title that reflected that end of the storyline.
Who are some writer's that you look to for inspiration?
I am asked this very often, and there are so many great writers, and there's so much to learn (as a writer), that I try to glean something from each book I read. I have found a few new authors that are nearing my "favorite" list lately; Abraham Verghese is one of them. There are the mainstays of women's fiction, of course Jodi Piccoult and Diane Chamberlain, who write in such a way that every woman salivates for their next book. The act of writing provides inspiration, the act of reading provides knowledge (for me). So, I guess you could say that I look to every other writer for knowledge and inspiration to become a better writer. Whether I'm picking up on hints of ways to improve my writing, or finding writing styles that I want to stay away from, it's all worthwhile, and I suppose, inspirational.
What are some words of wisdom that you can offer aspiring novelist? What have you found to be the best way to manage being a wife, mother and writer?
Write, study the craft, and write some more. If you are an aspiring novelist, write everything you can and are interested in; short stories, articles, letters--all forms writing will make you a better writer. Read as much as you can, grow your vocabulary, and hone your craft. Don't worry about what others will think of your writing, that can be played with. The first step is to write.
Managing my time has become a task. I suppose you could call me a schedulaholic. At this point, three of our children are in college or graduate school, with another attending in the fall. We have a middle schooler and an elementary schooler at home. While my life was far more chaotic five years ago, it still has its challenges. I schedule everything from my writing time, marketing time, and time to maintain The Women's Nest, the social and support site for women that I founded, to time with my kids, and all the Mommy duties, cooking, cleaning, and driving kids all over town. That schedule also has to be fluid, because life changes and I have to be able to move 2:00 pm to 9:00 am when the need occurs. For me, scheduling works. And yes, I do schedule time to play hookie from the real world, too.
To find Melissa at the Women's Nest, see the links below. Also, Melissa can be found in the forum as well to answer your questions!