Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen
Paperback, 702 pages
Published June 26th 2013 by CreateSpace
Age Group: Young Adult
If only a pile of wayward curls and the inability to stay on her feet were seventeen year-old Foster Kelly’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, stubborn hair and clumsiness are just the tip of it. At the age of five when Foster is told, “You don’t belong here,” it was only a mistake, but the result is one broken heart. These four carelessly spoken words have shaped and shadowed Foster, and now—a senior at Shorecliffs High-school—she seeks the wallflower’s existence, denying herself the most casual of friendships, much too afraid that someone will see what she believes is certain: she does not belong anywhere—or with anyone.
This reality would continue to suit her just fine; however . . . Love has a long-standing history of undoing broken hearts.
Like a comet, an unexpected arrival knocks Foster out of the crowded, starry sky, sending her directly into the limelight. Exposed and afraid, she will attempt to regain anonymity; but it isn’t so easy now that someone is watching. He pursues this shy enigma, confronting Foster’s deepest fears head-on, and in the process falls wholly and completely in love with her. But there is something he is not saying . . . a secret capable of certain ruin. Either he will break her heart once and for all, or he will heal it.
In the end, though, it is Foster who must decide if she is worth mending.
What inspired you to write Awakening Foster Kelly?
I think I could write a companion novel answering this question; but I will attempt brevity—something, if you’ve read my book, you’ll know I don’t espouse often—and say that writing Awakening Foster Kelly was my response to the fear each human withholds when facing the question “Am I enough?”
When did you decide to be an author?
I’m not sure “deciding” is exactly what I did. I can only speak for myself, but I imagine for those creatively inclined toward writing, there exists an innate love for storytelling, world building, or simply an affection for words and language. From there, this calling takes a highly unromantic turn, bent at the mercy of a universal condition known as Limited Time. For me, it was when passion merged with schedule, and the two didn’t quarrel, that I realized “Okay, I’m doing this.”
Everything came super easy after that, said the greatest lie ever told.
Of course it was one of thee most emotionally upsetting processes I have ever survived. It was hard, and it was supposed to be. Commitment is a forgotten virtue. We live in an age in which we are, more often than not, gratified instantly; and when suddenly something doesn’t feel right, we’re happy to close the door on it, because look—right over there someone’s left their window open. Having been married to the same man for ten years, I know commitment is not easily maintained. Whether it’s losing weight or resolving to walk your dog daily or writing that first draft, to you it will seem as though the world and its inhabitants have united, forming some nefarious coalition designed to impede your every step. It will feel personal. However . . .
Once I pledged to love my manuscript through sickness and in health, I took to reminding myself, as often as needed, that the only thing capable of separating us was death doing us part. Here we both are, alive and well.
What makes a story great?
Whatever the genre—Mystery, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance, Sci-fi—I need characters that aren’t afraid to crawl under my skin. Pacing, plot, language, description and dialog—these things can certainly make a book Great. But if the characters aren’t there, if all I’m reading is flat, stiff, cardboardy talking heads, then I am very likely to gently euthanize that book.
Beyond that, more and more I am learning the reader’s experience is a very personal one, and not every story will find its way into a beating heart. This makes sense. Opening the pages of an unread book is a bit like those first couple inches of unexplored bath water. We each have an ideal temperature, varying by mere degrees, and if it’s too hot or too cold, we might, and probably will, get out and start over. But when we find the water suits our bodies like a second skin, there is nothing more meaningful to a reader than that.
Which character from Awakening Foster Kelly was your favorite to write and why?
Of course I love them all for completely different reasons. However, Emily was the most fun—she made me laugh; and she was always saying the things everyone was thinking but was too fearful to say aloud.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a writer but is a bit scared of criticism?
Write for you. Write from a place instinctual and observant and audaciously transparent. The first draft is a limping, skittish animal; so try to remember that judgments are like bacterium to a fresh wound. They’ll always sniff it out and swarm because they know it’s vulnerable. As both the dreamer and the writer, it’s your responsibility to care for your draft, protect it, to keep it clean so it can heal properly.
Also, inserting your fingers into your ears and screaming “La-la-la-la-la!” over and over again is helpful.
What are your top ten favorite books?
1) Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
2) The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen
3) The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
4) Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
5) Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman
6) A Ring Of Endless Light, by Madeleine L’Engle
7) Beauty, by Robin McKinley
8) The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman
9) What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty
10) The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Do you have a current project?
My second novel, As Much As Funny Loves A Laugh, is scheduled to be released some time this Spring. And my third book—the title of which I’m going to keep solely mine for just a little while longer—is being written one spontaneous mind-burst at a time.
Thank you for having me, Michelle! And thank you, Readers, for stopping by to meet me. Please don’t be strangers. I would love to hear from you!
CARA ROSALIE OLSEN resides in sunny Southern California, where she lives with her very patient husband, Michael, and their spoiled pooch, Annabella. A product of a relatively normal childhood – whatever that means – Olsen recalls “Life had this relentlessly boorish way of reminding me I was wonky and unapproved. Regardless of status or gene pool, there is nothing simple or easy about growing up. Life doesn’t play favorites or carry biases; it’s the pits for everyone. But rather than constantly falling into the pit, often I chose to climb down willingly, lining the bottom with a soft place to land. That place is where I became a reader, and today, a writer.”
Throughout high school Olsen struggled with subjects Math and Science, but excelled at the arts, written and performed, often finding a kindred spirit in those teaching Creative Writing and English Literature. What began with an ardency for language soon developed into a burgeoning desire to create. This yearning took shape in the form of poetry and short story fiction, both of which have been featured in print and online publications. Olsen’s debut novel, Awakening Foster Kelly is the result of a four-year project born on a whim and sustained by its characters’ tenacity and their refusal to give the author a minute to herself. “In the beginning, getting them to talk was like trying to light a wet match. So, we had several long, sometimes combative conversations. I told them that unless they started holding up their end of the deal, I would have no choice but to fill in the blanks with whatever scraps came to mind. It wasn’t very long before I started showing up to find that everyone was already seated and waiting for me. We talked. I drank coffee. It was bliss.”
These days Olsen considers herself incredibly blessed to be able to do what she loves most. However . . . if she wasn’t a full-time writer, she would have liked to join the cast of Saturday Night Live, or, taken over as CEO of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
For more information, please visit CaraRosalieOlsen.com & AwakeningFosterKelly.com
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