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.
I was intrigued when I heard that Sara had a new novel that was set in Western Australia and in particular Atlantis – a marine park that operated in the 80’s – that I visited in my teens. It certainly didn’t disappoint. From the moment I picked up the book, I didn’t want to put it down.
Shallow Breath is a well researched and thought provoking novel. Told from the perspective of several of the integral characters, whose lives and stories interconnect, the story unfolds and truths are revealed.
5 Minutes with Sara Foster
Where did the inspiration for Shallow Breath come from?
The story developed in a number of ways. I always had an image of a woman standing on the balcony of her small house, looking out across the water. I knew she was strongly connected to the ocean, and I also knew she was deeply unhappy and searching for something, but it took a while to unpack her story. I was also inspired by an encounter I had with a minke whale nearly 14 years ago – I had been on a dive and was about to get back on the boat, when I looked under water and this whale was less than an arm’s width from me. I swam with it for only a minute or so, but it was an incredible experience, making this fleeting connection with a creature so different to me.
I was intrigued when I first heard about Shallow Breath being set in WA and in particular Atlantis Marine Park, as I grew up in Perth and made many trips to Atlantis over the years. Reading the novel it brought back many memories of those times. Did you visit Atlantis during that time? If so, what are your memories?
No, I didn’t visit Atlantis, and this was a challenge for me in the story, as many people in Western Australia have very strong, happy memories of the place, and so I wanted to do it justice. I worked as hard as I could to build up the picture of Atlantis as it was back then, by talking to people who visited and worked there, by looking through the archives of a few different libraries, and by visiting the site as it is today. I even found a clip of an Atlantis dolphin show on YouTube. I hope I have succeeded in bringing it back to life in the novel.
Is there going to be a sequel to Shallow Breath?
Possibly. I didn’t want a happy, rounded ending to Shallow Breath, as I didn’t feel it would be fair on the subject matter or the character dilemmas to neatly resolve things. However, as a result, most of the characters have been left in very interesting, in some cases extremely dramatic, moments in their lives. I do know what happens next, and I may go back to that, but there are a couple of other stories I’m hoping to tell first.
What are you reading right now?
I have just finished reading The Secret River by Kate Grenville, which I loved, and also Searching for the Secret River, which was a fascinating glimpse into the construction of the novel.
Thanks for visiting The 4Ravens Reading Room, Sara.
Thank you very much for inviting me!
To learn more about the story behind Shallow Breath, check out this link.