Ali Foster is like a pot full of popcorn sitting on a hot stove. Her mind is continually overflowing with ideas that shoot up and hit the lid of the pot until eventually, one of them escapes and she has to rush off and catch it before it disappears.
Ali was born in 1957 in Palmerston North, New Zealand, the youngest of four children. As a child, she lived in Johnsonville, Wellington. Her mother was a piano teacher and her father managed a wholesale book warehouse, so there were always plenty of books to read, although they were mostly misbound, printed upside down, or missing a cover. Her childhood favourites were The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack, Caroline and her Friends by Pierre Probst and Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansson.
Ali always had a yearning to write and she wrote and illustrated her first picturebook when she was fifteen years old. For the next fifteen years, she didn’t write anything at all, as she lived life to the full, but in 1988, the birth of her first child rekindled Ali’s desire to write for children. A short time later, she enrolled with the Christchurch College of Education to study for a Diploma in Children’s Literature.
In 2008 at the age of fifty, after many submissions and rejections, Ali had her first book published. The picturebook Elwyn’s Dream, won the Random House/Mitre 10/Conservation Foundation competition for a story about the takahe, a large, flightless, New Zealand native bird that was once thought to be extinct.
Ali has always loved adventure. When she was nineteen, she travelled on a Boeing 747 from New Zealand to America as a cargo attendant. One half of the plane was filled with standardbred horses and the other half with hundreds of containers of live eels. More recently, Ali and her husband Garry spent some time in South America, where they had the privilege of being able to swim in the Amazon River with pink dolphins and in the Galapagos Islands with hammerhead sharks. Ali was very relieved to come home in one piece.
Ali and her husband Garry have lived at Matahiwi, Masterton for nearly thirty years, where they are continually developing their small organic property under permaculture principles. They have three adult children and a dwindling number of pets.
Ali is not a social butterfly, but more of a hermit crab, and feels most at home in gumboots in the garden. Her hobbies include creating colourful works of art and riding around the countryside on her granny-bike with the family dog, Molly.