Last week, David Whish-Wilson tagged me in a book meme called the Next Big Thing, which asks authors to answer ten questions about their books. David and I have both been writing about Western Australia recently, and his new book Zero from the Bone sounds fascinating. You can read his responses on his wesbite, and here are my answers to the same questions:

1) What is the working title of your current/next book?

I’ve just released SHALLOW BREATH, which is my third novel.

2) Where did the idea come from?

The book was formed from all sorts of different ideas that came together. However, the first image I had was of a woman looking out to sea, watching the water, waiting for something, and obviously in distress. I couldn’t get her out of my mind, and I began to watch the water with her, trying to figure out what had happened to her and what she was searching for.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

I usually describe my books as psychological suspense, because my characters’ internal states influence story development as well as external action.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Good question! I have some clear images of the characters in my mind but I’m having trouble matching them to anyone famous (plus the story is spread over 20 years, which makes it difficult). For one of my favourite characters, the American dolphin research scientist, Connor, perhaps Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m struggling with the rest – I’ll have to think about it!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Two years ago Desi made a tragic mistake, but when she comes home to her family to make amends, she finds a stranger is waiting with a question that will change everything.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

All my books so far have been published by Random House Australia, and I’m lucky to be represented by Tara Wynne at Curtis Brown. Beneath the Shadows is also published by St Martin’s Press in the US, and Rowohlt Verlag in Germany.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

About six months. I was writing to a deadline so I had to get a move on!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a difficult question, as with this book I’ve really tried to do something different. As well as being a multi-generational story of a very unique family, it also touches on how we perceive animals, so perhaps something like Ape House by Sara Gruen.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The many people I’ve met who have cared for and loved animals in all sorts of different ways have inspired this story.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book was heavily researched because although the characters and their particular story is fictional, much of the background story, particularly involving animals, is based on fact. I researched everything from dolphin shows in Atlantis marine park in Perth in the 1980s to orangutans in Indonesia today. I’ve set up a website that tells you more about the facts behind the story at www.shallowbreath.com. I’ve been to a lot of the places in the book, and the scuba diving and snorkelling scenes are similar to experiences I’ve had. As well as being a big, entertaining story, I really hope that readers come away feeling like they have learned about some significant issues they may not have been aware of.

So, next week it’s over to four more writers, and my tags are Nicole Alexander, Natasha Lester, Annabel Smith, and Jenn J McLeod. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to say.

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Annabel Smith
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Hi Sara, I’m intrigued by the role animals play in your book: i Look forward to reading it. Thanks for the tag; I’ll let you know when my post is up.