I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Australian author, Sara Foster about her latest novel, Shallow Breath. My review for Shallow Breath will be up on the blog tomorrow.
Please describe Shallow Breath in five words.
Deep connections, love and heartbreak.
What inspired you to write Shallow Breath?
Originally I had an image of a woman standing on her verandah, looking out to sea, obviously troubled, and she appeared to be waiting for something. As I looked further into her story it became connected to the ocean, animals and conservation. I have a great love of animals and I have travelled to some beautiful parts of the world to go wildlife watching. One event in particular was prominent in my mind when I began thinking about this story, which was when I encountered a minke whale while diving on the Barrier Reef back in 1999. I hadn’t swum with anything so big in the water before, but my fear turned to this incredible calm and curiosity, which seemed to be mirrored by the whale! It was an incredible experience and has remained vivid in my memory.
Shallow Breath touches on animal cruelty and conservation in Australia and worldwide. What research did you undertake for the story?
It was very important to me that I wrote as authentically as possible about all the animals and people involved with them. Therefore, I read a lot of books by animal researchers, and did a lot of library and internet research too. You can see some of the books and articles that I found particularly useful on www.shallowbreath.com. The research itself took me a good 6 months, and it was hard to stop and to feel as though I had done enough!
Tell us about your own experience of visiting “the cove” and its influence on the novel.
I realised that I would have to visit the Cove myself to be able to depict it with any degree of clarity. I was there for a couple of days, and only experienced the ‘front line’ in Taiji for one day, but it was harrowing. It’s very emotional watching the hunting boats going out and then scanning the horizon, waiting, waiting, to see if they return in formation. If they do then you are going to watch frantic dolphins being driven in from the sea, fighting for their lives before they are mostly slaughtered. Taiji isn’t just a place where the dolphins are hunted – they are also kept in local hotels and museums for entertainment, and seeing the listless animals in those small, decaying pools – knowing they once had the whole ocean as home – is heartbreaking too. Conservation groups sometimes have differing takes on how to bring about change in Taiji, but one thing they all seem to agree on is spreading the word that by going to captive dolphin shows anywhere in the world you are unwittingly aiding and abetting the activities of the Taiji fisherman, as they make their money from supplying the entertainment trade.
Shallow Breath spans five continents, why did you choose these countries?
I concentrated on the animals, and the countries chose themselves because of what’s happening to the animals in each country. It was great to set the book far and wide, as I hope it shows just what a wide-ranging experience this one extended family has of the planet. I’m sure that my own experiences of a few of the animals played a part in them finding their way into the story – particularly the whale sharks in Exmouth and the Galapagos.
Shallow Breath is your third psychological suspense novel, what do you love about writing in this genre?
I LOVE trying to keep people guessing! I love trying to put different issues into a page-turner of a story. I love hearing that I’ve kept people up at night, wanting to know what happens next! I love the intricacies of plotting, and examining all the wonderful flaws of my characters. However, I’m aware that any genre definition is a little too neat for most books, and it’s disappointing when people prejudge the book on its genre rather than reading the story.
What are you currently working on?
I’m about to start a new book, currently called Nightfall. It’s about a family whose lives change dramatically over the course of one night …
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Entertain my daughter, read and sleep! If I’m really lucky I get to practice photography, or go on a trip somewhere, or go for a swim!
And just for fun, when writing do you prefer…
Coffee, tea or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate for sure!
Plotting, pantsing or both? Either, depending on the day.
Quiet solitude or background noise? Quiet solitude when writing, background noise otherwise.
A warm, sunny day or a rainy day? I have to say I enjoy the rain a lot more now it’s a novelty living in WA! And I don’t enjoy the sun on the really scorching hot days, but spring and autumn are beautiful.
Typing or pen and notepad? Whatever is to hand, but typing where possible, since I end up typing my notes up anyway!
Thank you so much for stopping by Sara.
Thank YOU for inviting me!
Shallow Breath can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers.
Two years ago, Desi Priest made a horrific mistake and destroyed her family.
Now, she is coming home to make amends: to her daughter Maya, who’s nurturing her own dangerous plan; to her brother Jackson, who blames himself; and to her close friend Pete, who has spent years shielding her from a devastating truth.
But as Desi returns to her beloved house by the ocean, there is a stranger waiting for her. Someone who needs her help. Someone whose arrival will reveal a chain of secrets hidden for over twenty years.
And one by one the family will be forced to confront the possibility that they have somehow got things terribly, tragically wrong …
Set across five continents, Shallow Breath is a compelling novel of dashed dreams and second chances. But most of all it is a story about love, and what it really means to be free.