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GUEST BLOG: FLEUR MCDONALD, author of Blue Skies and Red Dust

I’m very excited to introduce Fleur McDonald, a fellow West Australian, as my guest blogger today. Fleur has written two brilliant books, Red Dust and Blue Skies, and is currently busy working on a third, called Purple Roads. Please check out her fantastic website and blog at www.fleurmcdonald.com. Over to Fleur: 

I love thunderstorms. To me they represent unbridled power and helplessness all in one. The power they produce, we humans can’t harness, which makes us at the mercy of the storm, therefore the power/helplessness.

Thunderstorms always seem – well on the coast, anyway, to be in layers. First of all there is the high, white strips of cloud that streak, in wisps, across the sky. As the storm starts to stream in over the hill, huge indigo coloured rollers make us stop and watch. I’m often unable to tear my eyes away from what is about to happen. Lastly, and this does really only seem to happen on the coast, the cold, scuddy, murky grey clouds seem to come up from the sea and lay across the menacing clouds, giving the storm three sections.

And then as these clouds roll through, we wait. The sky darkens, the atmosphere, the humans and stock all tense in anticipation.

At the first crack of thunder we all jump, even though it’s expected, the lightning sheets across the sky or forks and hits the ground. Again we hold our breath, watching for fires, but when the rains start, we laugh and lift our faces to the heavens. No fires, nothing destructive, just life-giving rain.

Creating a book is much like this, believe it or not! The book holds the all the power and, as the writer, I feel helpless, until the setting and characters emerge and introduce themselves to me. It starts in layers, the first one being the setting, like the high clouds, it doesn’t do much, but it creates the atmosphere. For me, as both a reader and a writer, I want to be immersed in the place that the story is being told. I want to breathe the air my characters are and see the things they do.

The second layer is the plot. The very thing that gives the book the control to draw the reader in.

The third layer is the characters. They are what makes the book – who they are, how does their setting effect them, make them the people they are and have the relationships they have. Now my issue is getting it all to mesh together, weaving the suspense and action into normal peoples lives. It takes time and it can be frustrating, but as it all comes together, then comes the anticipation – what is going to happen next, we’re all waiting…

Bang! A thunder clap – or a pivotal point in the book.

Lightning strike – gasp, hold your breath! Is there going to be a ‘fire’?

Then the rain is the ending, we’re happy to see it because now we know what is going to happen, why it did and how we got to the finish line.

So to me, writing a book is a lot like a thunderstorm; a rollercoaster of emotion, plots, characters and settings. Although sometimes frustrating,  I love every minute of it!

I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for visiting, Fleur!

The Saturday Age reviews Beneath the Shadows

Here’s what they had to say:

‘Sara Foster overtly appropriates the tone, atmosphere and themes of classics from Wuthering Heights to Rebecca, delivering a modern gothic that has the charm and suspense of Susan Hill’s ghost stories.’

Click here to see the rest of the reviews so far for Beneath the Shadows.

Pages

Beneath the Shadows

BTS for webThe absorbing plot of “Beneath the Shadows” shows that a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch.

Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Foster’s captivating story is steeped in secrets locked in attics and hidden in cellars, good sisters, bad sisters, a ghost, a couple of brooding handsome men and almost as many characters with mother issues as a Sophocles play.

Carole Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Foster’s second page-turning tale of suspense set on the snow-covered moors has something for everyone: mystery, romance, paranormal activity and mortal danger. 

Kirkus Reviews

This is an intricately woven tale inspired by classic stories such as Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. The suspense and unexpected twists will leave you guessing all the way through.

The West Australian

BTS US for webBeneath the Shadows draws together an intriguing mystery, an atmospheric and gloomy setting that steals over you as you read it and an interesting and varied cast of supporting characters to create a psychological thriller that will definitely leave you wanting more from this author!

1girl2manybooks – to read the full review, click here

This is the second Sara Foster book that I have read (it is also her second release – so I now have a bit of a wait to get my Sara Foster fix again), and once again I was mesmerised by Sara’s writing, and completely pulled in by the story.

The Hungry Bookshelf – to read the full review, click here

Sara Foster overtly appropriates the tone, atmosphere and themes of classics from Wuthering Heights to Rebecca, delivering a modern gothic that has the charm and suspense of Susan Hill’s ghost stories.

The Saturday Age, 5 February 2011

…a mystery-suspense novel so thrilling it forces you to burn the midnight oil,

Flourish magazine, 11 February 2011. See full review and interview here.

Beneath the Shadows is full of intrigue and wonderfully dark descriptions of ghosts that haunt the moors.

Good Reading magazine, February 2011. For an online summary, click here.

…merges classicism and contemporary to winning effect.

a book a day till i can stay, #190 – see full review here.

This is an inricately woven tale inspired by classic stories such as Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. The suspense and unexpected twists will leave you guessing all the way through.

Chicklit Club, February 2011. See full review here.

Beneath the Shadows is a tense, suspenseful story of loss, secrets and ghostly presences.

The West Australian, 22 February 2011. See full review here.

When Adam inherits a lonely cottage, he and Grace and their baby move in. Then Adam vanishes. No trace, no clues… A year later, Grace still seeks answers but knows she must move on. The locals are reluctant to offer help, but it comes from an unexpected quarter. As winter snows start to cut them off from the world, Grace finds the answers lie in unsuspected places. Heart stopping moments are ahead for her… and us.

Woman’s Day, 28 February 2011

A year after her husband’s disappearance, Grace returns to their home looking for closure. Set in England’s desolate moors, this page-turner has just the right amount of mystery.

In Style Magazine, March 2011

With spooky clocks, snowstorms, cursed chairs, family secrets, ominous portents, greasy letters written on glass, taciturn locals and a few ghosts, there’s something here for everyone who enjoys a good shiver up the spine. The moors, bleak, beautiful and unforgiving, provide the perfect backdrop.

M/C reviews, April 2011 – to read the full review, click here

If you love a novel with a twist, then Perth writer Sara Foster’s latest novel Beneath the Shadows is the perfect port in a winter storm.

ishoperth, July 2011

…a stunning thriller.

Western Advocate, July 2011

Beneath the Shadows is a great read by a talented Australian author. (5/5 stars)

The Australian Bookshelf – to read the full review, click here

For author interviews and general media, click here

Beneath the Shadows

Beneath the Shadows

NEW AUSTRALIAN EDITION

COMING JULY 2017

How do you begin to move on, if the past won’t let you go?

When Grace’s husband, Adam, inherits a cottage on the isolated North Yorkshire moors, they leave London behind to try a new life. However, a week later, Adam vanishes, leaving their baby daughter on the doorstep.

The following year, Grace returns to the tiny village of Roseby. She is desperate for answers, but it seems the slumbering village is unwilling to give up its secrets. As Grace learns more about the locals and the area’s superstitions and folklore, strange dreams begin to trouble her. Are the villagers hiding something, or is she becoming increasingly paranoid? Only as snowfall threatens to cut them off from the rest of the world does Grace begin to understand how close the threat lies, and that she and her daughter may be in terrible danger if she cannot get them away in time.

‘The absorbing plot of “Beneath the Shadows” shows that a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch.’

Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel 

Australian ISBN (paperback): 978-1925456738

E-book ISBN: 978-1925456745

Available in Australia and New Zealand from this website, and in all good bookstores, including Booktopia, Dymocks and independent retailers.

INTERNATIONAL READERS:

There is a US e-book edition of Beneath the Shadows, published by St Martin’s Press.

If you are overseas and you would like to purchase a print edition, please send a message of enquiry using the Contact form.

Book Group Questions

1. The past is still too close to us… How does the past infiltrate and affect the present in Beneath the Shadows?

2. Grace is driven by her need for resolution: did you see this as an obstacle or a necessity for her?

3. Ghosts, omens, clocks that stop and start by themselves – is there a supernatural element in Roseby, or was it all just a figment of Grace’s imagination?

4. Windows and reflections are strong symbols in the novel. How do you interpret their significance?

5. Not only is Grace reading Rebecca, but throughout the book the classic novel is alluded to in others ways too. Consider these parallels, and what they contribute to the story.

6. By the end, the mystery of Adam’s disappearance is resolved. Yet Adam didn’t tell Grace where he’d put their money, his relationship with Jenny, or the existence of the cellar. How much do you think the reader gets to know the ‘real’ Adam?

7. How did you interpret Grace’s strange dreams? Were they warnings, her subconscious trying to process her fears, or something else?

8. How important is Annabel to the story? What role does she play?

9. Is Meredith a villain or a victim?

10. By going through their belongings and their memories, Grace seems to be trying to understand who Adam’s grandparents were. How far can she succeed, do you think? And why is this so important to her?

Reviews

The absorbing plot of “Beneath the Shadows” shows that a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch.

Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun-Sentinel 

Foster’s captivating story is steeped in secrets locked in attics and hidden in cellars, good sisters, bad sisters, a ghost, a couple of brooding handsome men and almost as many characters with mother issues as a Sophocles play.

Carole Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Foster’s second page-turning tale of suspense set on the snow-covered moors has something for everyone: mystery, romance, paranormal activity and mortal danger. 

Kirkus Reviews

This is an intricately woven tale inspired by classic stories such as Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. The suspense and unexpected twists will leave you guessing all the way through.

The West Australian

Beneath the Shadows draws together an intriguing mystery, an atmospheric and gloomy setting that steals over you as you read it and an interesting and varied cast of supporting characters to create a psychological thriller that will definitely leave you wanting more from this author!

1girl2manybooks – to read the full review, click here

This is the second Sara Foster book that I have read (it is also her second release – so I now have a bit of a wait to get my Sara Foster fix again), and once again I was mesmerised by Sara’s writing, and completely pulled in by the story.

The Hungry Bookshelf – to read the full review, click here

Sara Foster overtly appropriates the tone, atmosphere and themes of classics from Wuthering Heights to Rebecca, delivering a modern gothic that has the charm and suspense of Susan Hill’s ghost stories.

The Saturday Age, 5 February 2011

…a mystery-suspense novel so thrilling it forces you to burn the midnight oil 

Flourish magazine, 11 February 2011. See full review and interview here.

Beneath the Shadows is full of intrigue and wonderfully dark descriptions of ghosts that haunt the moors. 

Good Reading magazine, February 2011. For an online summary, click here.

…merges classicism and contemporary to winning effect.

a book a day till i can stay, #190 – see full review here.

This is an inricately woven tale inspired by classic stories such as Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. The suspense and unexpected twists will leave you guessing all the way through.

Chicklit Club, February 2011. See full reviewhere.

Beneath the Shadows is a tense, suspenseful story of loss, secrets and ghostly presences.

The West Australian, 22 February 2011. See full review here.

When Adam inherits a lonely cottage, he and Grace and their baby move in. Then Adam vanishes. No trace, no clues… A year later, Grace still seeks answers but knows she must move on. The locals are reluctant to offer help, but it comes from an unexpected quarter. As winter snows start to cut them off from the world, Grace finds the answers lie in unsuspected places. Heart stopping moments are ahead for her… and us.

Woman’s Day, 28 February 2011

A year after her husband’s disappearance, Grace returns to their home looking for closure. Set in England’s desolate moors, this page-turner has just the right amount of mystery.

In Style Magazine, March 2011

With spooky clocks, snowstorms, cursed chairs, family secrets, ominous portents, greasy letters written on glass, taciturn locals and a few ghosts, there’s something here for everyone who enjoys a good shiver up the spine. The moors, bleak, beautiful and unforgiving, provide the perfect backdrop.

M/C reviews, April 2011 – to read the full review, click here

If you love a novel with a twist, then Perth writer Sara Foster’s latest novel Beneath the Shadows is the perfect port in a winter storm.

ishoperth, July 2011

…a stunning thriller.

Western Advocate, July 2011

Beneath the Shadows is a great read by a talented Australian author. (5/5 stars)

The Australian Bookshelf – to read the full review, click here

For author interviews and general media, click here