Saturday, December 29, 2012

SHALLOW BREATH by Sara Foster ★ ★ ★★

          “It’s about connections, across difficult boundaries,” comments Sarah Foster, in describing her third novel SHALLOW BREATH.  And there are so many extraordinary connections over the twenty year span of the story that your head will spin; but spin in a good way where you keep wondering what impact did this character have on this one. Even the animals in the book are connected and their impact on the human characters is also long-ranging.
          If you have ever visited or lived in Western Australia you will also find the factual component of SHALLOW BREATH fascinating and well-researched, as Foster skilfully weaves a tale of intrigue surrounding the main character, Desi, who once worked in the real-life "Atlantis Marine Park" outside Perth which closed in the nineties.
          The story begins with just-released-from-jail, Desi Priest, returning to her home by the Indian Ocean to hopefully reconcile with her teenage daughter Maya.  All we know is that Desi did something unthinkable and inexplicable and Maya is finding it difficult to understand and forgive her.  
          Told in five parts via multiple points of view, Desi recounts her life in the nineties whilst working at Atlantis just as it is closing. It was there she met AmericanConnor, a passionate marine biologist, with whom she develops a friendship which takes them further than she ever expected.
          In present day, a stranger, Kate, arrives in town and it is clear she is more than a visiting tourist. She has a dangerous agenda that is only revealed at the end of the book.  There are many secrets kept by each character and slowly the pace builds as the character perspectives flow back and forth to reveal how each character connects with Desi’s past and will impact on her future.
          For those who love a psychological mystery, SHALLOW BREATH will see you turning the pages into the wee hours of the morning. Along the way, there are some fascinating insights into animal conservation, dolphins and even orang-utans as the story travels from Western Australian to many countries.  Whilst it doesn’t beat you over the head with its conservation issues it certainly takes you to places where you will feel angered by the brutality but also encouraged by the bravery of those who fight against that cruelty.
          SHALLOW BREATH is a modern Australian saga, written by an author who knows how to breathe life into characters.  The story reaches through the pages pulling you into its watery depths and when it is over the characters will stay with you as if you’ve connected deeply with new friends.

Review Copy supplied by RANDOM HOUSE Australia. For more information please visit

For a FREE First Chapter of Shallow Breath CLICK HERE

Visit The Shallow Breath Website to learn how Sara blended fact with fiction to create SHALLOW BREATH.

Release Dates: Australia and New Zealand: December 2012

You can purchase Shallow Breath from all good books stores in Australia.

E-Book for Australians and International: Amazon   Amazon UK
if you are overseas or in Australia, you can ALSO purchase direct from the author's website.


          Sara Foster lives in Western Australia with her husband and young daughter. She divides her time between writing, book editing and being a mum. Her passions include the natural world, photography and travel. She is the author of three novels: Come Back To Me, Beneath The Shadows and Shallow Breath.


Monday, December 17, 2012

An Interview with Michael Robotham

Delving into Dark Minds
An interview with best-selling thriller author
Michael Robotham

His readers want him to write faster and he wants them to read more slowly. In order to churn out a book a year, the international best-selling thriller author Michael Robotham is working sweat-shop hours.
Back in 2004 whilst writing his first novel, The Suspect, his day would start at nine in the morning with an hour for lunch, before working through till five and back in the evening and working again until eleven. Eight years later with seven more books gracing the best-seller lists and a resume that includes twice winning the Australian Ned Kelly Award, short-listings in UK Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger, ITV3 Thriller Awards, the South Africa's Boeke Prize and listings on “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries, you would think by now he could relax and enjoy the success.
“I’m still working long hours, which is a legacy of doing a book a year,” he admits. With his books selling in the millions and translated into twenty-two languages and published in more than 50 countries, Robotham finds that the success has brought even greater demands on his time, “answering correspondence, doing interviews, maintaining websites and touring.” 
During this interview he was between his North American and Canadian tours to promote his latest thriller, Say You’re Sorry, a dark, psychological crime story featuring psychologist Joseph O’Loughlin.
In the fourth O’Loughlin novel (The Suspect, Shatter, Bleed for Me) he returns to consult on the brutal murder of a husband and wife in a farmhouse in the small UK town of Bingham. Co-incidentally it had been the home of teenager Tash McBain, who along with her friend Piper had gone missing three years prior—neither girl was ever found.
“The seed of the idea for the story was sown ten years ago,” explains Robotham, “when two girls disappeared from the small village of Soham in Cambridgeshire. There is a very poignant photograph of them wearing matching Manchester United shirts, which was taken only hours before they went missing.”
“Holly and Jessica were best friends and they died at the hands of a school caretaker called Ian Huntley. In the weeks before their bodies were found, the entire nation clung to hope and hung on every scrap of information. There were prayer vigils and messages of support and makeshift monuments of flowers. It was as though these girls didn’t just belong to their families, they belonged to everyone.”
            Robotham wanted to explore the idea of public and private grief behind tragic stories that capture the public imagination and trigger what psychologists have termed ‘mourning sickness’ but wrap it inside a mystery of the ultimate fate of the girls. “O’Loughlin has such a wonderful sense of humanity and humour,” he says. “He can lead readers into dark places and confidently bring them back again.”   
Despite Joe O’Loughlin’s popularity with readers he won’t always feature in upcoming novels. When he first appeared in The Suspect it was never Robotham’s intention to write a series. “I wanted to do stand-alones. At my publisher’s insistence, I compromised and created a cast of characters who appear in the books. I only went back to Joe as the narrator when I came up with the idea for Shatter. It is such a pure psychological thriller that it needed someone like Joe to tell the story. Joe came back in Bleed for Me because my wife insisted I sort out his personal life. I didn’t manage that—so maybe Joe will keep appearing occasionally. He won’t be the star of twenty novels but may appear as a minor character now and then. When readers see him happy, they may never see him again.”
Robotham was initially excited to tour his new book in mid-August when it first launched in Australia. “Finally I could leave my ‘pit of despair’ basement office and talk to some real people. I could meet passionate readers and catch up with other authors.”
But after two months of touring in Australia, the UK and North America, he admits he is “pretty exhausted”. He laments, “It’s a perversity of the process that I’m deep into a new novel which is the focus of my energy and excitement. So my mind is in two places. I’m also a long way from my family and missing them desperately.”
Home is Sydney's northern beaches with his wife, Vivien, and three daughters. Since Say You’re Sorry’s dual narrative is also that of one of the teenage kidnap victims it begs the question of the emotional toll of writing every parent’s nightmare.
 “Every parent has those moments when they lose sight of their child in a supermarket or on a busy street and for thirty seconds they feel sheer terror. Or they sit at home on a stormy night, looking at the clock. Someone they love is late home and not answering their cell phone. That’s when the darkness creeps into our thoughts. As Goya said, ‘The sleep of reason produces monsters’.”
This is the fear Robotham admits that he taps into when he writes. “All my nightmares revolve around my daughters. Perhaps I’m subconsciously trying to allay my worst fears, by writing about them. Do I scare myself?  Sometimes.”
In Shatter, one of the characters did get under the author’s skin. “One of the dual narrators is a man who terrorises women by breaking their spirit and their minds. Entering his skin and looking at the world through his eyes was particularly horrible. I remember coming upstairs and having scalding hot showers and curling up in bed trying to get his voice out of my head.”
So why despite this does he continue to enter these dark minds with the added pressure of producing a book a year to keep fans and Publishers happy? Robotham’s answer: “Stephen King was once asked, ‘Why do you write such dark and twisted stories?’ and he replied, ‘What makes you think I have a choice?’
To read the review of SAY YOU'RE SORRY CLICK HERE.
Visit Michael Robotham's official Website for more information about this author.

'Say You're Sorry' by Michael Robotham ★ ★ ★★ ½


“Nobody writes like Robotham” is stamped across the cover of my review copy of his latest thriller, ‘Say You’re Sorry’.  After reading this fourth addition to his ‘Joseph O'Loughlin’ series, I would have to say if anyone does write like him then they too can count themselves as a master storyteller.
I dare anyone to begin reading this and not finish it in more than four or five sittings.  As a bedtime reader, the only thing that drew me away was sleep and I cursed my weary eyes each time.  Robotham has written a credible rounded character in psychologist Joseph O'Loughlin, suffering not only from early stage Parkinson’s disease but, also, separation from his wife.  He doesn’t arrive at conclusions easily but as he is drawn into solving the mystery of a brutal double murder and two missing teenagers, the twists tangle themselves around our hero as much as the reader.
Police believe that teenage best friends, Piper and Tash, who went missing one Sunday morning, will never be found and are likely dead.  In reality they are still held in a dark basement by a sadistic captor. 
Three years later, O’Loughlin is brought in to consult on a couple murdered at a farmhouse in a blizzard.  A young man with psychological problems claiming to be innocent is the chief suspect.
Simultaneously, a young girl’s body is found in the nearby frozen river.  Only O’Loughlin senses that the seemingly unrelated deaths could be connected and possibly linked to the girl’s kidnapping.   
We know the girls are alive as Piper’s narrative describes the girl’s disappearance and horrors of captivity over the years.  The story switches artfully between her viewpoint and O’Loughlin’s with each adding to the building suspense.  Piper desperately plots to escape their captor and O’Loughlin, just as desperately, attempts to solve the girl’s puzzling disappearance.
You will think you see the twists and turns coming but you will be wrong and that is the best kind of thriller.  This one is that good, that for many books afterwards, I found myself cursing, “Nobody writes like Robotham”.

My review copy of SAY YOU'RE SORRY supplied by Hachette Australia. For more information about this book, click through to Hachette website HERE.   Available now for $29.99


Born in Australia in November 1960, Michael Robotham grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.
For the next fourteen years he wrote for newspapers and magazines in Australia, Britain and America.
In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and show business personalities to write their autobiographies. Twelve of these non-fiction titles were bestsellers with combined sales of more than 2 million copies.
His first novel 'The Suspect', a psychological thriller, was chosen by the world’s largest consortium of book clubs as only the fifth “International Book of the Month”, making it the top recommendation to 28 million book club members in fifteen countries. It has been translated into twenty-two languages.
His second novel 'Lost' won the Ned Kelly Award for the Crime Book of the Year in 2005, given by the Australian Crime Writers Association. It was also shortlisted for the 2006 Barry Award for the BEST BRITISH NOVEL published in the US in 2005.
Michael's subsequent novels 'The Night Ferry' and 'Shatter' were both shortlisted for UK Crime Writers Association Steel Dagger in 2007 and 2008. 'Shatter' was also shortlisted in the inaugural ITV3 Thriller Awards in the UK and for South Africa's Boeke Prize. In August 2008 'Shatter' won the Ned Kelly award for Australia's best crime novel. More recently, 'Bleed for Me' – Michael's sixth novel – was shortlisted for the 2010 Ned Kelly Award. His latest novel 'The Wreckage' has won universal praise and was described by Nelson De Mille as 'one of the best novels to come out of the chaos of Iraq.'
Michael can most often be found working in his 'pit of despair' (basement office) on Sydney's northern beaches where he funds the extravagant lifestyles of a wife and three daughters.