Longtime passion becomes reality for Boyds mother
Melissa Foster talks about the writing life with startling honesty.
"Writing a book and having it published is a little like standing on the corner naked," the Boyds resident says. "You don't know if they're going to throw tomatoes or whistle."
Despite a lifelong craving to write fiction, the mother of six waited until her youngest went to kindergarten before fully pursuing her passion. She has now been writing for about three years.
"Megan's Way," Foster's debut novel, is a family drama starring Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist who is battling cancer for the second time. Megan's 14-year-old daughter Olivia, with whom she shares a paranormal connection, is struggling to deal with her mother's illness. Meanwhile, Megan's best friend Holly wants desperately to help, but has been keeping a secret that could make things even worse. Adding to the story's drama is a love square of sorts, composed of Megan, Holly and the two main male characters, Jack and Peter.
The inspiration for "Megan's Way" came from a real-life experience that "festered for years." Foster based her main character on her own mother who once withheld the fact that the doctors mistakenly thought she might have ovarian cancer. If she had, she told Foster a year later, she would have refused treatment.
"Megan's Way" is not the Foster's first novel Foster. She was at work on "The Knowing," a mystery set in Boyds about a 7-year-old girl who goes missing, when the idea for "Megan's Way" came to her so strongly that she decided to put "The Knowing" on hold.
"She was a force that was just too powerful to put down," she says of her title character.
Making the characters' emotions experience feel real and raw was Foster's greatest challenge in writing the book.
"Some of the scenes I actually had to act out before I could write," she confides.
Foster is now editing down the 600-page "The Knowing," and hopes to have it published early next year. Never at a loss for ideas, she has three other adult novels and one young adult novel already in the works. In addition to her writing, Foster maintains The Women's Nest, an online social community for women that she founded.
In seeking out a literary agent to represent her work, Foster consistently heard that the struggling economy made it difficult to sell manuscripts. Her husband encouraged her to self-publish. If interest grows in "Megan's Way," she plans to rekindle her search for an agent.
So far, feedback from readers has been positive. One mother e-mailed that she had practically ignored her children all day because she couldn't put the book down.
In addition to being an entertaining read, Foster hopes her book leaves people "not as quick to make judgments about others."
"Megan's Way" can be purchased online at www.amazon.com or at www.barnesandnoble.com. Melissa Foster will be speaking and signing copies of her book from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Borders, 20926 Frederick Road, Germantown. Call 301-528-0862. Foster is available to speak to book clubs and can be reached through her Web site, www.authormelissafoster.com.