Today We at Reading Lark have the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Foster, author of Chasing Amanda. This is part of Melissa’s Summer Blog Tour Bonanza. A review of Chasing Amanda is also featured on our site today (below), so be sure to check it out. Also, stop by and enter to win your own copy of Chasing Amanda (see sidebar link), and stop by Melissa’s website for a chance to win a Kindle!
 

Melissa Foster is the award winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she's written a column featured in Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa is currently working on her next novel, and lives in Maryland with her family. Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Awards: 
Megan's Way: 2011 Beach Book Award Winner (Spirituality)2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist (Spirituality)Nominated Dan Poynter's Global eBook Award 2011 (Winners TBD summer 2011)Chasing Amanda:Nominated Dan Poynter's Global eBook Award 2011 (Winners TBD summer 2011)
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Melissa, we are so glad to have you with us!  I am eager for our readers to get to know you, so I’m going to jump right into the questions. 🙂
 
I always wonder what authors were like when they were children. Were you the kid in school who was always telling stories, or did writing come to you later?
 
I was the kid in school who was never outdone by the boys, but not the story teller. I didn’t sit still long enough to tell a story, only to read them. Writing came to me as a young adult, in my early 20’s, I discovered my passion for writing.
 
When you start fresh with a new book idea, where do you typically start? Do you plot first, develop characters, or something else?
Both Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda began with a particular character, and my next book, Come Back To Me, was the same way. In fact, now that I think about it, the next two books began that way as well. Characters come to me with such detail and depth of emotions, that I usually can’t ignore them—those are the ones I know are keepers. I don’t outline my stories, I let them organically develop as the writing process progresses. It makes the process exciting and frightening, and I love the challenge. 
 
Speaking of challenges, you are a wife and mother of six kids, as well as founder of the Women's Nest, a busy electronic community for women. Do you have a *best* tip for managing to balance all of these roles?
Hmm….that’s a tough question. I’m a mental scheduler; long to-do lists where I have my writing goals, my family’s commitments, and my personal desires. That works for me, but probably the “best” tip I could give is to always take time for yourself, even if it’s only ten minutes each day, so you don’t get so burnt out that you are unable to see past the chaos. 
 
I think Molly, your main character, has learned that lesson.One of the best things about Chasing Amanda for me is that I can so easily relate to Molly. In what ways do you yourself relate to Molly?
I’m glad you were able to relate easily to her. That is always my goals with my characters. I probably relate to her in too many ways. I’m in my mid forties, a runner, and I’m very headstrong, very similar, in fact, to Molly. I’m also sensitive, although I don’t like to think of myself as being so.  I tried not to put myself into her too much, but as a writer, we write what we know, so in many ways, we are probably alike.
 
I’m hoping to help readers get a “taste” of Molly with this question: if Molly was a dessert, what would she be?
This is the greatest question! I have stared at my computer for seven minutes trying to figure it out. I think she’d be a chocolate croissant. She’s not a showy person, but she’s substantial and her heart is very generous.
 
I agree- that’s just how I saw her. Now I think I need to try a chocolate croissant. 🙂I like to think that book characters like to read. What book do you think Molly has read more than once?
Wow, another great question. Do you think she has time to read? I think she’d read books that are mystery-driven, but women-oriented, perhaps something like Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult.
 
Molly’s life started on this whole path because she sometimes has clairvoyant episodes that she calls “the Knowing”. How did Molly's clairvoyance affect her childhood?
I don’t think her clairvoyance had a great impact on her childhood, as it didn’t progress until she was much older. However, I do think it gave her a bit of an insecurity in knowing that she and her mother were a bit different than most people.
 
Of course the incident with Amanda had a huge impact on Molly and her family. We read that Molly would go back and change that day if she could. Is there anything else that she would change? 
This question made me climb back into Molly’s head a bit. Yes, I think Molly would have changed her reaction to Amanda being put so harshly into the vehicle, maybe spoken up and pushed past her embarrassment to stop the incident all together or at least gone to the police after her dreams/visions. If she hadn’t changed that, and she was still fighting the guilt-demons, I think she might have changed how she handled her family situation. Hindsight is 20/20, or so they say, so now, years after the event, she might want to go back and figure out a way to pull herself past her guilt (and I don’t know if she would have had the courage/strength/ability) and be able to care for Erik, rather than losing those years with him. Again, I’m not sure she’d have been able to do that no matter what tools she’d been given. Her trauma was so deep that it encompassed her every thought.
 
I am sure that she would have been there more for Erik if she could have; she has a good heart.
I absolutely love that the small town of Boyds has more secrets than anyone seems to know. My experience of small town life is similar- is yours?
This is interesting. Everyone I know in small towns has given me almost the same feedback. Surprisingly, I have not had the same experience. I know of secrets, but they’re very small in the overall scheme of things. They’re not necessarily life-altering secrets. I live in Boyds, and many of the places depicted in the book are real, although the people and the secrets are fictional. Now you’ve made me think about this, and you know what…maybe I just don’t know the real “secrets” of our small town.  Hmm…I just might start looking at people a little differently, lol.
 
I love how you describe the landscape around Boyds. If you had your own private sanctuary on a 5-acre plot somewhere in the world where you could transport magically at any moment, where would that place be?
That’s easy – Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I am certain that I belong on the Cape. I feel it when I am here every summer and I long for it when I am in Maryland. Can you please arrange that bit of magical transport? I’ll see what I can do. 😉
 
Is there a song that you feel is a good theme song for Chasing Amanda, or maybe one of the characters?
Wow – you are full of really thought provoking questions. I’m really enjoying this! There is a song that I listened to while I was writing Chasing Amanda, How To Save A Life, by The Fray. Even though the lyrics have a little different meaning, it was a driving force in making Molly such a determined character. Here’s a link to the lyrics: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fray/howtosavealife.html
 
I love that song!If you got the opportunity to work with any widely-known talent, who would you want it to be, and for what project?
This answer changes from time to time, there are so many people I admire and would love to work with. I would give my left pinkie to work with Drew Barrymore. She’s come so far and has overcome so much in her life, and she’s very down-to-earth. I think we’d be great friends. She and I are both a little bit hippie and a little bit rock ‘n roll, and she seems to enjoy life as I try to. I think she has a very big heart that goes hand in hand with her ability to see beyond the image of people.
 
Melissa, thank you so much for taking time to be with us!
 
Paula, I have really enjoyed answering your questions and I’m so pleased that you have taken the time to support my writing and read CHASING AMANDA. I love your website and look forward to staying connected. I’ll stop in and answer any reader questions that come up, and, as always, readers can feel free to contact me directly to meet with their book clubs or chat about writing: thinkhappygirl (at) yahoo (dot) com
 
Check out Melissa's books on Amazon
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