At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?
I believe writing is partly about seeking an identity. I think, the moment someone puts a pen to paper, they are a writer. Upon publication, people will consider you an author anyway. There’s no looking back after that!
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
People usually ask, “When’s the next book out?” or simply mention certain characters they can identify with from one of my novels. Many can also identify with the locations I mention, particularly if it’s local, and that always provides me with positive feedback.
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
For a number of years, I wrote poetry using a pseudonym. At the time, I wanted to keep my personal life, and writing separate. I was a little shy and didn’t want friends or family, apart from the odd girlfriend, to know that I wrote and had some published. In hindsight, this was a shame as getting my poems published eventually proved to be among my finest personal achievements. One day in the late 1990s, I woke up and recognised that it would be great to republish and share the poetry online under my own name. You know, shout it from the rooftops! In recent years, yes, I’ve regretted using the pseudonym when I was younger. All my books now are published under my birth name of Foster.
Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?
My first novel is set in a Surrey lunatic asylum in 1929. It’s called The Asylum Soul. One of the characters, is called Maisie who falls in love with the book’s protagonist, Tommy Compton. Such a relationship was forbidden in those days, and, in the end, Maisie killed herself by jumping in front of a train at nearby Brookwood railway station. Some of my readers were incensed with what I had done. In the book, I had built her into such a loving and beautiful character. In my second novel, Fly Back and Purify, which wasn’t a sequel, I brought her back as a ghost.
Have you ever travelled as research for your book?
Yes, my third novel, An Invisible Nemesis is partially set on the Maltese island of Gozo. Other chapters were set in Venice, and Sicily. Researching and writing the book was a great excuse to travel to both Italy and Malta!
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
With an air of apprehension. Sometimes, with a tear in my eye and a sense of relief. Always with a glass of wine or something stronger, even if its four in the morning.
How do you use social media as an author?
I have a website at www.malfoster.co.uk and use Twitter almost daily. I also have a Facebook page which is also updated at least once a week.
@malfosterwriter on Twitter
Mal Foster Author on Facebook..
How long does it take you to write a book?
My first novel, The Asylum Soul, took about 18 months. Others slightly less. My latest book, Fluke’s Cradle, took around only six months.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
It’s the final editing and proofreading process. I feel it’s where the manuscript is at its most vulnerable. There is nothing worse than spotting an error after publication, even if it is just a stray apostrophe!
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was fifty-nine years old when I published my first novel, The Asylum Soul in 2015. If someone had said to me just a few years earlier that I would write a novel, I would have seriously questioned their sanity. Now, I would thank them for the prophecy!
Very much a self-proclaimed “writer of the ordinary man,” Mal Foster was born in 1956 and grew up in Camberley, Surrey before moving to nearby Knaphill in the late 1980s. He had left school just before his sixteenth birthday in 1972 to help support his single mother and younger brother. Around this time, he began writing poetry, and indeed, his first poems were published soon after.
Now semi-retired, Mal counts his time as a local journalist as a career highlight.
With four novels already to his name since 2015, Mal’s fifth novel, ‘Fluke’s Cradle’ a psychological thriller was published in April 2022 and is available in paperback, hardcover and eBook formats.