I’d like to introduce you to the twenty-first interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is Pamela Foster.
QUESTION: Hi, Pamela! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Before I knew how to write, I told stories in my head. Mom painted a lamb and a bunny on the inside headboard of my crib. I have one clear memory of waking in the semi-darkness and imagining that lamb and bunny running in a green field.
In junior high I carried one of those blue binders with me everywhere. Pages and pages of sloppy cursive telling the tale of a girl just my age. Only pretty. The delight of her parents. An only child with no annoying younger sister.
Then life interfered with my writing.
I married at eighteen, had three boys by the time I was thirty. Divorced.
Earned a couple of degrees. Worked. Eventually re-married. This rich and wonderful, challenging, and sometimes daunting, life left little time for much more than dappling in writing.
About ten years ago, while retired and living in a little house in the jungle of Panama, I began to write. Seriously write. Six hours a day, every day. Since then I’ve produced ten novels and two non-fiction books.
Two of those novels, Redneck Goddess and Bigfoot Blues, have been published by High Hill Press. Clueless Gringos in Paradise is due out in the next month or so by Pen-L Press. Clueless is the true story of how my husband and I moved to Panama with nothing but two suitcases and two enormous service dogs.
My agent, Jeanie Pantelakis, has the second novel in the Bigfoot series, Bigfoot Mamas, and a suspense novel, The Perfect Victim. Jeanie is pitching those to New York.
I’m almost finished with a literary western, Ridgeline.
QUESTION: Your novels, Redneck Goddess, and Bigfoot Blues, were published by High Hill Press. Can you tell us about your books?
ANSWER: Redneck Goddess opens with the line: Oil and water, hog jowls and caviar, Julio Hernandex Monterey and my hometown of Noisy Creek, Georgia – tthese are a few of the things that do not mix.
I wrote the novel while living in Panama. My husband is from south Georgia and several of his old friends came down to visit us there. I love these people. Their gently charm and their beautiful drawl. Watching them interact with the well-to-do of Panama was a delight. So much so that I decided to write a novel about a young woman from a little town in Georgia who goes to Panama on business, falls in love and brings her handsome, dark-skinned beau back to her big, noisy, rowdy, opinionated family.
Bigfoot Blues was written, in part, because my logical, hard-headed, German grandpa had an encounter with bigfoot when I was a kid. Grandpa’s stunned reaction to that meeting in the woods stayed with me all these years. I wanted to write about a young woman finding her place in the world after being raised in an isolated culture that was looked on as a little bit odd by the majority. The world of the bigfoot hunter suited my needs perfectly and made for some wonderful, quirky, and intelligent characters.
QUESTION: Your novels are described as ‘stories that leave the reader with a renewed joy in the small moments in life’. Who or what were your inspirations?
ANSWER: The first three novels I wrote, sitting in my little room, surrounded by the green Panamanian jungle, were cathartic. Like most everyone’s family, mine did the best they knew how to raise me up right. But my people are known for poor decision making ability. So, like so many of us, I carried an emotional scar or two into my adult life.
Somewhere between my third and fourth novel (you know the manuscripts I’m talking about. They’re sitting in a boot box in the far back of the closet) I had a revelation.
I could create a new, more loving, nurturing family in my writing. A sort of literary six-million-dollar-man. We can build him stronger, faster. Now, before you think I write about fairy land and sugar lollipops, let me explain. My characters always have flaws. Sometimes deep flaws. But they also always search for, and sometimes find, the tiny moments of joy in life.
This characteristic to seek out those small glimpses of joy also comes from my growing up in an area that rains about 300 days a year and is foggy and cloudy another 50 days. When the sun appears, we in the Pacific Northwest stop whatever we’re doing. We lift our hands to the light and luxuriate in the sun’s warmth. And, this need to acknowledge life’s goodness comes partly from a family survival instinct that requires me to take life’s blessings where I find them.
QUESTION: Both of your novels have book trailers. Who created your trailers? How much input did you have? Will you share links to them?
ANSWER: Patty Stith helped create the book trailer for Redneck Goddess. By that I mean Patty supplied over half the pictures, did all the work and then did it again after I messed it up. It’s good to have friends. Diana Graveman did the trailer for Bigfoot Blues. She had an easier time of it as I stayed completely out of the process and allowed her free rein.
Both of these links are from my main blog: http://pamelafosterspeakerwriter.wordpress.com/
QUESTION: Your first novel, Redneck Goddess, is set in South Georgia, and your second novel, Bigfoot Blues, takes place in the Pacific Northwest. How did you choose your settings? Do they settings have a great significance?
ANSWER: My husband is from Americus, Georgia and, since the first time he brought me there, I’ve loved that little town. The people are friendly, the town is beautiful. And, as I said, watching friends from Americus interact with our Panamanian friends when we lived in that country, was the catalyst for Redneck Goddess.
Bigfoot Blues is set in my home town of Eureka, California. I’m the sixth generation to be born and raised in that area. It’s still my favorite place in the world to be and writing three novels set there is a treat for me.
QUESTION: Your literary agent is with Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency. How did you find them?
ANSWER: Jeanie Pantelakis took pitches at Ozark Writers League. I read at the Friday night get-together at Box Car Willies and the agent came to me and asked to see my work after hearing me read. Jeanie has since left Sullivan Maxx and opened her own agency. I choose to go with her in her new endeavor.
QUESTION: Are you working on a new book?
ANSWER: I’m working on a literary western entitled Ridgeline. I think it’s my best work to date. For years I stayed away from the issue of combat veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. I know PTSD very well. My husband is a Vietnam vet who suffers with the symptoms. When I was ready to write about this cost of war, this challenge that so many struggle to live with, I found that I could not write about it in a modern context. So I made one of my point of view characters a civil war veteran. The other POV is a young woman who does her best to understand this wounded man she’s come to love while finding her own way in a hard world.
I’ve started a blog about living with my wounded warrior. It’s helpful, I think, for those who have loved ones with PTSD, to see that they’re not alone. That blog is: http://woundedwarriorwife.wordpress.com/ I’ve gotten good feedback on this blog and am encouraged to continue to share my story.
QUESTION: You and your husband like to travel all over the world. Do you find inspiration for stories or your characters as you travel?
ANSWER: When we travel, I do find inspiration. But rarely as we’re traveling. I think I experience the sights and sounds and smells of the country and people. It’s only later, when I’m in front of a computer back home, that my brain sorts through all the images it’s collected and an idea for a story or book will come to me.
We’ve also done, not travel, but immigration. We’ve lived in Mexico and in Panama. And, living in a country is far different than traveling there. I wrote a great deal while living in both these Latin American countries. Maybe it takes a while for me to sort through the colors and the light and the smells of a new place, so that, I have to live in those new places a while before I’m able to absorb them into my writing.
QUESTION: You have some interesting ancestors. How have they influenced your writing or your life?
ANSWER: Oh yes, the family.
My great aunt, Mandy Foster,was a madame during prohibiton. Evidently I look like her because for years I couldn’t go into a bar in Eureka, California without some old man buying me a drink and telling me, with a peculiar glint in his eye, that I looked like someone he once knew. They all adored Mandy.
Auntie was a hero in our family. The only woman to have her own business. She owned a monkey fur coat, knew Tom Mix, and cavorted with politicians. What I learned, growing up with all these tales, is to look a little deeper when someone starts telling me a story.
Mandy coerced any number of young women into the life of small town whore in order to earn her own living and she died of syphills before she was thirty. The westerns we’ve all seen, with the prostitute with the golden heart, don’t tell the whole story. The life of a whore is not romantic.
My great-great grandpa, Merrit Curtis Foster, drove the stage coach in and out of Freshwater, California and my grandfather, Fritz Brockmueller, had an encounter with Bigfoot.
Folks say a lot of things about my family, but no one has ever accused us of being boring.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!