It is always a treat to participate in a group blog with my very special writing group, consisting of Natasha Lester, Amanda Curtin, Annabel Smith, Dawn Barker, Emma Chapman and Yvette Walker. On this occasion we have come together to celebrate the recent release of my own book All That is Lost Between Us, and Natasha’s newly released A Kiss for Mr Fitzgerald. Both of these books feature young girls determined to pursue their passions – so it seems only fitting that our blog posts are all about what we read as young women that inspired us to follow our own dreams.

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On the surface, the two books I am going to write about could not be more different, and yet they were both books I read multiple times in my late teens, and they both continue to influence me today. The first, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, is a book I IMG_7128would probably not have picked up at the time, had it not been on my study list for my A level exams. I had never read anything like it. I couldn’t claim to understand it and yet I was immersed in the sensory overload on every page; the voices of each character so distinct and so close; everything framed by the rise and fall of the sun and the surge and retreat of the waves, as a day grows and blossoms and then fades, just as a life does. It was a book I returned to explore again and again, entranced by both its complexity and simplicity. As a reader, I was completely absorbed by its visceral narrative. As a young writer, I was learning so much. Since then I have read many of the works of Virginia Woolf, but The Waves is still my favourite.
IMG_7130The second book I remember reading repeatedly as a teen was completely different. Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine is an utterly original, humorous non-fiction book on the plight of some of the most endangered animals in the world. (Since Douglas Adams’s death, it has been re-envisioned and updated by Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine in another book and TV series.) It not only appealed to my love of animals, but it also tapped in to my growing awareness of environmental problems, and how difficult it is to change human patterns of behavior to avoid the preventable and tragic loss of species. It was the very first book to focus my attention on the delicate nature of biodiversity, and how much work needs to be done to preserve and cherish the world around us. Last Chance to See is twenty-five years old this year, but its urgent appeal to humanity remains as relevant as ever.

 

Please take the time to visit my fellow writers’ blogs and learn who inspired them when they were younger – there are some wonderful choices and stories in this collection:

Natasha Lester remembers her love of Jane Eyre.

Dawn Barker recalls an powerful read that made her determined to work in the mental health industry. 

Emma Chapman talks about a former boss who proved to be an inspiration.

Annabel Smith describes the impact Sylvia Plath’s diaries had on her as a teen.

Yvette Walker tells us how Graham Greene influenced her as a writer and reader.

Amanda Curtin celebrates Eleanor Alice Buford Hibbert, whose name is less familiar than her wonderful work, thanks to her numerous pseudonyms.

And finally, don’t forget to tell us who inspired you when you were growing up!

 

unnamed-4All That is Lost Between Us is part of Simon & Schuster’s Better Read Book Club. If you belong to a book club, check out their page and register your book club for a chance to win books for all your members, and to be kept up to date with upcoming great reads. You’ll find a sample chapter of All That is Lost Between Us here, and reading group questions here.

If you like Podcasts you can listen to me talking about All That is Lost Between Us in the second half of 3MBS’s Pageturners, hosted by Diana Ross.

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Family Dynamics

I’m just coming down from the high of three days at the Perth Writers Festival, where I conducted a workshop on editing, talked about Family Dynamics with Peggy Frew, Myfanwy Jones and Michelle Michau Crawford, discussed Foreboding with Garry Disher and David Dyer, and then finished with the official book launch of All That is Lost Between Us.

I loved finding out more about the wonderful novels by my co-panellists, whose books I would all highly recommend. I also had quite an emotional moment listening to Liz Byrski launch my new novel, because Liz is an author I deeply admire. To have her say such wonderful things about not only this book but my previous stories was very, very special.

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with Larissa Edwards and Liz Byrski

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with Garry Disher and David Dyer

I made it to a few sessions myself. I watched Roman Kryznck open the festival with his engaging talk on empathy. I listened to Susan Johnstone, Helen Ellis and Lauren Groff discuss the Domestic novel, and it was great hearing them speak, although the session didn’t really go in the direction I hoped it would (I wanted them to get into the nitty gritty of how the domestic is written and perceived in fiction). I also attended the Stan Grant, Jane Caro and Lindsay Tanner session called ‘We Need to Talk About This’. They each spoke passionately about issues from racism to mental health, and left me wanting to read their work. And I watched Michael Cathcart interview Paolo Bacigalupi, where he raised the interesting point of whether descriptions of sexual violence in novels can ever go too far. I found myself agreeing with Michael, because I think I stopped reading a lot of crime (I used to read loads) due to the graphic descriptions of horrible events in many of the novels. But … how can we ever censor stories? Because if we did, the same reasoning might be applied to some of the awful scenes in Shallow Breath, but they form an integral part of the novel. They have to be there, even though I found them very distressing to write. This is complex question, and while Paolo Bacigalupi certainly did his best to answer it, I didn’t feel he nailed it.

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with Anna O’Grady, awesome lady, avid reader and brilliant publicist

A personal highlight of the festival was spending the evening of my 40th birthday with the Simon & Schuster authors and publishing team, along with a few passionate booksellers and journalists. The beautiful, inclusive nature of the event left me in no doubt that Simon & Schuster Australia is a very special publishing house, and I feel extremely blessed to be under their wing.

If you attended the festival, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And if you came to one of my sessions, thank you. Roll on PWF 2017!

It’s only a few days until the Perth Writers Festival, where I have a very busy schedule. My final event on Sunday is my book launch, and you are all invited. Do come and join us if you are attending the festival, it would be great to see you there.

Sara's Launch invitation

Book Cover Image for All That is Lost Between Us by Sara FosterAll That is Lost Between Us is finally in the shops! Thanks to all the advance readers the book has felt ‘out there’ for a while, but it’s wonderful to reach this official release date. It’s now also up in my online store, and you can request a signed copy at checkout. And until 5 February there’s a chance to win a complete set of my books over at Book Muster Down Under.

In the past week I have been talking about the book all over the place, and there’s plenty more to come. So far in the blog tour I have visited:

Book Muster Down Under

Rowena Holloway

Write Note Reviews

Book Birdy

And I have been thrilled to read some wonderful reviews from Write Note Reviews, Readings, and this very special one from Hannah Richell, a writer whose work I deeply admire, in the Australian Women’s Weekly.

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Now I’m off to celebrate, but not for long as I have a novel to finish!

Watch this space for Book 5.

 

 

 

 

To celebrate the publication of All That is Lost Between Us I visited some of Australia’s top book bloggers, on a tour called ’11 ways to read a book’. I introduced my character Georgia with Book Muster Down Under, was interviewed while walking the Lakes (well, in our minds we were!) with Rowena Holloway, talked about the wonders of research over at Monique Mulligan’s site Write Note Reviews, and shared thoughts on writing with Book Birdy. Carpe Librum came up with a wonderful Pinterest mood board, Debbish quizzed me about the theme of motherhood in the novel, and BookdOut wrote a lovely Blog Tour review. I talked about teenagers and social media with Duffy the Writer, and Reading, Writing and Riesling also provided a very thoughtful Blog Tour review. To round off the tour I did a podcast with Susan May about writing and what to take in the event of an alien abduction, and I finished off talking about how to write great suspense with Kathryn White.

If you have followed the tour, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I’ve had a wonderful time chatting with all these book bloggers, and I’m very grateful for their support.

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imageFirst of all, I apologise to all AWW fans for not wrapping this up sooner! Life has been a bit crazy in the Foster household, and I needed to go through my very eclectic reading list from last year! For those of you wondering what it’s all about, the Australian Women Writers challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, living in or outside Australia, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only. You can sign up or the 2016 challenge and find out more information on their website. There are three entry levels: Stella (read 4), Miles (read 6) and Franklin (read 10).

My year began with Liane Moriarty’s fantastic Big Little Lies and Dawn Barker’s compelling Let Her Go. Soon after that I was lost in the exquisite writing of Yvette Walker’s Letters to the End of Love, and then moved on to a couple of dystopian/apocalyptic YA gems – Genesis: The Rosie Black Chronicles by Lara Morgan and The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn. While in the midst of having three big projects on the go at once, it was the perfect time to read Rachel Power’s brilliant book Motherhood and Creativity – an anthology of artists talking about their experiences of combining these two life-consuming roles on a day-to-day basis. I found myself nodding and writing down passages so I could refer back to them, and found Cate Kennedy’s poem ‘The Zen Master’ a masterpiece of writing. At the end of the year I managed to squeeze in a couple more fiction books: Ann Turner’s brooding and evocative The Lost Swimmer, and Susan May’s thrilling ride Deadly Messengers.

When compiling this list I thought I hadn’t quite met the Franklin status of ’10 books read’, then I remembered I had also read Mem Fox’s Reading Magic and Jackie French’s I Spy A Great Reader – both important books about how to get young children engaged in reading. As as side note, the Foster girls are avid fans of Mem’s and Jackie’s books for children, and this year we loved Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonald Partridge and Koala Lou by Mem, and Josephine Loves to Dance and Diary of a Wombat by Jackie. While I’m on children’s books I can’t help but mention Alison Lester’s wonderful Are We There Yet, which we discovered this year. We spent ages putting the places mentioned on a map of Australia and Miss 6 is now determined we will visit all of them! We also loved Magic Boomerang by Frane Lessac and Mark Greenwood, where the wonders of Australia are brought life by an enchanted boomerang.

So I think I may have just snuck in to Franklin status. And while I suspect that my reading in 2016 will be dominated by dystopian fiction for my PhD, I’m going to aim for Franklin again, because there’s no harm in being ambitious! This initiative has been of inestimable support for Australian women writers for some years now, and I’m very happy to be part of it.