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Friday, 23 August 2019

Guest Post: Learning to Fly with Jason K Foster

Golden Books. Mr Men. Doctor Seuss.

Many of us had our parents introduce us to reading with these books and as it was with me. My mother has always been an avid reader, encouraging me to read from an early age.

Hadamar is dedicated to her – she taught me to see the world in a different light.

I was also lucky enough to have wonderful teachers, many of whom introduced me to Literature’s classic tales. When my second grade teacher read Charlotte’s Web I cried, and learnt the power a story has to move us. Later, I read The Hobbit as it was on the bookshelf at home. It took me a while to read The Lord of the Rings, the red eyes of the Mordor horses on the cover scaring me too much to read it until I was older.

My writing journey began in Year 9. Like all students, I had to complete a creative writing assignment. Like many students, I left it to the last minute and had no idea what to write about. My sister was listening to Pink Floyd. I liked their song, Learning to Fly. I liked the film clip too. While I totally misinterpreted the lyrics, I came up with an idea for a story where a fourteen-year old Native American boy had to hunt a buffalo by himself and return with it to his people.

New Novel, Hadamar The House of Shudders
Handing the assignment in, I thought nothing more of it. However, my teacher decided to submit mine (and others) work into the Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year competition. While I did not win, I was awarded with a Highly Commended.

I dabbled with a little bit of writing here and there over the next few years, but only poetry (usually written about girls I liked).

I went to the United Kingdom when I was 19 after enrolling in a University course that I did not like. Not knowing what I wanted to study, I thought I would see some of the world. After working several menial jobs, I was offered a job with the installation section of Sky TV. It was this exposure to the media that made me think about writing. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Communications, studying Journalism and Literature.

I entered the media industry but quickly realised it was not for me. I wanted to write more substantive pieces. I wrote several (still unpublished and needing substantial work) manuscripts but I was fortunate enough that my parents’ neighbour was a proof-reader for some of the bigger publishing companies. He gave constructive criticism but encouraged me to pursue writing nevertheless. I sent much of my work to various companies and literary magazines and, while I had a few bits and pieces published, I was mostly told that my work was good but not for them.

My first major break came when my mother’s best friend, Robyn Caughlan, informed me that she wanted to write a memoir. I offered to do it for her but, at the time, she had designed the gown for Miss Teen Australia 2007, Ashleigh Seymour. Her father, Peter, was a former NSW detective who was also looking to tell a story of one of the murder investigations with which he was involved. Robyn told Peter about me and he contacted me.

Seven Bones, my first published novel, was the result. I had never really considered true crime as a genre that I would write in and, after dozens of drafts, we finally had the manuscript accepted (after some not very pleasant rejections). Indeed, I was told that the script was poor, I should think about something else apart from writing and the story was not at all interesting.

Professional people were telling me I wasn’t good enough. I considered quitting.

However, Big Sky Publishing saw the potential in the story and took the book on.
It went on to be my bestselling book thus far.

Since that first novel in 2011, I have written nine other books including biographies, true crime and historical non-fiction. 

Jason Foster is an author, poet, journalist and History teacher at Jamison High School in Sydney’s western suburbs. He holds a Masters Degree in History and is currently studying a Diploma in Languages (Spanish). He has taught in Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina. He has been published in American History magazines, Australian travel magazines and poetry anthologies in the United Kingdom. Seven Bones is his first major true crime novel. Hadamar The House of Shudders is his latest novel.

Hadamar The House of Shudders is the story of Ingrid Marchand, a young girl of mixed German-French-African race born and her struggle to survive as the Nazis rise to power and Hitler’s barbaric racial policies are introduced.

Ingrid Marchand’s only sin was to be born black.

Horrifying institutions like Hadamar are where the undesirables – including the mentally and physically disabled and children – are systematically tortured, gassed and executed. It is where Ingrid is humiliated and brutalised and will encounter a depth of hatred the world has never seen before.

On the brink of starvation, can Ingrid survive the horrors of her incarceration and help bring her tormentors to justice?

Hadamar
is a gripping tale of survival in a world of hatred, horror and insanity.

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