In our ongoing tenth anniversary series, Darlene Foster answers three questions. Foster is the author of the Amanda Ross travel adventures series for children. (The cover of Amanda in Holland is perfect for spring.) She hails from Alberta, and divides her time between British Columbia and Orihuela Costa in Spain. Darlene Foster first appeared in Canadian Writers Abroad in 2017, with a guest post from Spain, “Foster’s Dream Life.” -DM
CWA: Where were you ten years ago?
Ten years ago I was living in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada, commuting over an hour each way to a stressful, full-time job and writing whenever I found a few spare minutes. I often picked up part-time jobs, as well, to cover the bills and the ridiculously large mortgage. I recall standing in the pouring rain, waiting for a bus that didn’t show up and thinking there has to be a better way to live.
CWA: What top tip would you share with a writer considering a move abroad?
If you’ve been used to a fast-paced lifestyle, depending on where you relocate to, you will have to learn to slow down and get used to a more relaxed way of living. For instance, if a delivery person informs you they will be dropping something off around ten o´clock in the morning, it may not arrive until five o´clock that evening or possibly the next day. I soon learned to be patient.
As a writer, living abroad can be very lonely. I had an amazing network of fellow writers in Canada who encouraged and motivated me. I continued to meet once a month with my critique partners in Canada via Skype and now Zoom. That was great, but what about the rest of the month? I was chatting with a friend of a friend who, when she realized I was a writer, suggested I check out a group of English-speaking writers who met once a week at a place only fifteen minutes from where I lived. I showed up at one of their meetings and was welcomed with open arms. It was the best thing that could have happened, as once a week, I get to meetup with like-minded individuals who are willing to offer ideas and suggestions while we share our work. Many have become good friends as well.
Since then I have been invited to join two other groups of writers, including a group of poets. Each group has a different focus with a variety of writers from all over the globe. I always return home with my head full of ideas.
I would suggest that if you are considering moving abroad, find a group of writers to meet with, even if it is not a formal group. It will provide you with mental stimulation, intelligent conversation and keep you from getting lonely, homesick and possibly depressed.
CWA: What are you doing now?
During the COVID pandemic, my husband and I felt very safe here in our little corner of Spain. The authorities ensured we were all kept safe and everyone followed the strict rules. We were allowed to walk our dog twice a day during the strict lockdown, so between my husband and myself, she got four walks a day. She was very happy. At the beginning of the second year of the pandemic, we adopted another rescue dog. We called her our pandemic baby. The two of them have kept us entertained during this time of lockdowns and isolation. I was able to catch up on reading and writing, tried new recipes and kept in touch with friends and family through social media and Zoom. I did school visits, reading from my books, all over the world via Zoom, which was fun. The only upsetting thing was not being able to return to Canada and say goodbye to my ninety-two-year-old mother who passed away from natural causes in March 2021.
I´m now living a simple life on the Spanish Costa Blanca, walking my two rescue dogs on the beach every day, sipping a café con leche at a beach café, reading on my terrace in the sun and writing whenever I wish for as long as I wish. As well as exploring countless historic sites, I enjoy visiting schools, reading my books to eager children and doing book signings in local coffee shops. Sunshine and a stress-free life style may not motivate everyone but it works for me. I’ve written six books and a number of short stories in the past seven years that I have lived in Spain. I feel younger than ever and my blood pressure is back to normal. Life is good.
- You can buy Foster’s middle-school books from Central Avenue Publishing.
- Read an interview with Foster on The Art of the Narrative.
- Foster’s essay on growing up on a ranch in Alberta was published in Country Roads: Memoirs from Rural Canada, edited by Pam Chamberlain, Nimbus Publishing, 2010.
- James Cudney, “This is My Truth Now,” reviews Amanda in Arabia.
- Diane Tibert reviews Amanda in New Mexico.
- Jennifer Foden reviews Amanda on the Danube in Quill and Quire.
- Darlene Foster interviews Amanda Jane Ross on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.
Photos of Spain taken by Darlene Foster.