Don’t you love a book that gives you a very certain sense of time and place? A strong setting always makes me feel as if I’m right there in the middle of the action along with the characters, and in Paula Weston’s Shadows, we’re thrust into a paranormal romance set in Australia…with angels.
This was absolutely perfect, as I bought the book while I was in Sydney last summer after reading rave reviews from overseas friends, and as I read it I got to relive a little bit of my trip through reading the story.
As we kick off the official Shadows blog tour today, we asked Paula if she’d take us on a guided photographic tour of the book’s gorgeous setting. We’re so pleased that she agreed to share her pictures and writing process with us, and invite you to join us as we explore Gaby and Rafa’s world in Australia…and beyond.
P.S. I want to stay in that Italian Monastery!
Half-angels hanging out at the beach in Australia…why not?
by Paula Weston
The Rephaim series isn’t the first to feature supernatural beings in Australia, but the idea of angels, half-angels, hellions and demons hanging out in an Australian coastal town is still rare enough that readers are commenting on it – even in Australia.
When I started writing what would become Shadows, it was purely for fun. I’d been writing for years (with a pile of rejections in my wake) and after the latest round of knock-backs I sat down to explore an idea I had for a paranormal/urban fantasy story. It was an exercise in letting go and experimenting in a genre I’d long loved as a reader but had never explored as a writer. In that spirit of experimentation, I thought it would be interesting to put supernatural beings – often associated with dark, gloomy settings – in a bright sunny Australian beach town, populated by a range of Australian characters.
The sense of place, characters and mood came quite naturally, because I was writing about places and people I know well – or at least, imaginary versions of them. (The real fun came later in Shadows when the rough-and-ready Butler brothers stumble into the world of the Rephaim. Now that was an interesting moment of worlds colliding.)
Much of the story is set in and around the fictitious town of Pandanus Beach. It’s an amalgam of a few places along the Queensland and New South Wales coastline. I wanted it to be a naturally beautiful place of surf beaches and rainforest, caught somewhere between the fishing village it once was and the tourist haven it’s becoming.
One of the places that influenced Pan Beach is Port Douglas in Far North Queensland:
And a little bit of Noosa Heads:
I wanted Pan Beach to be the sort of place where tourists and backpackers come and go, making it easy for someone like Gaby to move there without raising too many eyebrows (as might be the case in a town with a more static population). The Rephaim themselves are well-travelled, so – even without her memories – it made sense for Gaby to be drawn somewhere where she would be surrounded by people from other places as well.
The town’s name is inspired by the pandanus palm, a type of tree I’d never seen before moving to Queensland (I’m originally from South Australia – about as far from the tropics as you can get in Australia). These palm trees fascinate me, and I particularly associate them with North Stradbroke Island, just off the coast from Brisbane, where I live now. I didn’t just want Pan Beach to have a great beach and surf culture, I also wanted it to be surrounded by dense rainforest (shadowy and atmospheric). So the town is nestled against a mountain range that has euclalypt forest (iconic Australian gum trees) and rainforest that grows right to the edge of the town. The images below – which I used for inspiration – are of Mount Tamborine – again, not far from where I live. When I’m writing any scenes in the rainforest, I picture the lush areas on Mount Tamborine: This is a Moreton Bay Fig, which gets a mention in the first chapter and is a feature of tropical rain forests in South East Queensland. (I love the freaky root system above the ground – almost other-wordly). To the right in this picture is a barely marked track, which is the kind Gaby is running along in the opening chapter. Gaby, Maggie and Jason go to a party in the rainforest at falls a lot like these (although I imagine the falls in Shadows to be a bit higher and more spectacular):
One of the things I’m loving about writing this series is that it gives me the opportunity to explore a world of supernatural beings in a very real-world setting with a distinctly Australian flavour. Thanks to a special skill the Rephaim possess, my characters visit other places throughout the series, but much of the action takes place in and around Pan Beach. There will be exceptions to that (can’t say too much right now), but Pan Beach will be important right up to the end of the fourth and final book.
Thanks so much for visiting us today, Paula! We’re booking our tickets to Australia as soon as we possibly can in search of Rafa. :D
Win a copy of Shadows!
Thanks to our friends at Tundra Books, we’re giving away a hardcover copy of Shadows, the first book in Paula Weston’s Rephaim series! All you have to do is leave a comment below and fill out the Rafflecopter form. Additional entries may be earned daily through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. See entry form for complete rules. Good luck!
About the Author Paula Weston is the author of Shadows, out in North America now from Tundra. Visit her online at her website and Twitter to keep up with all her latest news! Photographs were provided by the author, and include her own images as well as those she sourced from Travel 4 Kids, Backpackers Guide to Australia, Vacation Greece Network, Romancing Italy, and Super Eva. Some photos and text also previously appeared on the author’s own website.