A Tour of Shadows’ Australian Setting with Paula Weston + giveaway!

September 16, 2013 2013, angels, australian authors, giveaway, guest post, Paula Weston, Wendy 65

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.

~ Wendy

P.S. I want to stay in that Italian Monastery! 


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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.

Outside Australia
When Rafa is trying to convince Gaby he’s telling her the truth about her other life, he takes her to Patmos, a small Greek island. It’s not as famous as Santorini, Mykonos, Crete or Rhodes, but is still a stunning Mediterranean location. I liked the idea of Rafa and Jude having had a place in such a remote and unexpected location, where they occasionally went to escape the pressures of the Rephaim and Outcast worlds. It’s in their cottage that the reality of her past hits home for Gaby – and where Rafa shows a hint of a gentler side (albeit briefly).
This church is actually on Santorini, but its like the one Gaby sees out of her window from the cottage on Patmos.
My inspiration for the Sanctuary is a medieval monastery in the Piedmont region of Italy, called Sanctuario di Oropa. The layout I’ve created for the Rephaim’s Sanctuary is a little different from the real thing, but these images will give you an idea of the style and size of the place. This is where the Rephaim (including Gabe pre-memory loss) have lived most of their lives. Gaby only sees parts of the monastery during her brief and violent stay. It has a more prominent role later in the series…
Thanks for letting me hang out in The Midnight Garden.

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


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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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.


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65 Responses to “A Tour of Shadows’ Australian Setting with Paula Weston + giveaway!”

  1. Ari (Reading After Midnight)

    Oh my, I have received a copy from the author a while ago and loved this book (I love the second book just as much) but now, seeing all those pictures, I could print them and put them inside the book to look at them when I’ll re-read it. It would make for a great reading experience ;))

  2. Brianna C

    I’m going to answer this in two parts lol
    A. I love when angels and demons are somehow involved with each other (huge fan of the site Supernatural)
    B. I have a random live for Australia and I’m so excited to have been finding books that are set there.

  3. Jess C.

    I’ve been following you on good reads for a while and finally came to check out your blog, which I should have seen earlier as I am an adult that loves the ya genre! How have I missed this?! Anyway, I’ve only read a few angel books but loved them and love any book that makes me escape from the real world for a while into make believe :)

  4. Jess C.

    I’ve been following you on good reads for a while and finally came to check out your blog, which I should have seen earlier as I am an adult that loves the ya genre! How have I missed this?! Anyway, I’ve only read a few angel books but loved them and love any book that makes me escape from the real world for a while into make believe :)

  5. Carina Olsen

    Ah, love the gorgeous pictures. <3 So happy you loved the setting! Seems like an really awesome book, since so many loved it. I might have to check it out better; since I haven't really tried to read much about it (A) but I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Thank you for sharing. <3

  6. paula-weston.com

    This is an awesome discussion. Glad there’s so much love for Australia! It’s a great place to live (even if we locals take it for granted).
    Thanks again for having me – and let me know if anyone wants any Aussie holiday tips!

  7. Heather Roddenberry

    OH. MY. GOD. This guest post and these pictures! I just finished reading Shadows and Haze so your posting of this is SO serendipitous! Well–I love the Aussie books I have had the pleasure of reading–all of them. And I think one of my fave aspects is the surf culture that tends to show up in them. Raw Blue was probably the first Aussie book I read that focused on this. I love it because I live in an area with a surf culture of it’s own too. I’ve dated surfers ( I ended up marrying one) and have been around that my entire life. And it really is a microcosm unlike any other. So I loved this part of Shadows and Haze.

    I also love what Weston said about the backpacker culture–because YES. Whether it is Gaby’s memories of traveling with Jude or the descrip’s of Pan Beach–there is SUCH a cool backpacker vibe to this series and again, that’s fave themes of mine in my reading.

    These pictures are just SO gorgeous- I love that I can now put an image with the picture I have in my head from reading. Though I think the actual shots far surpass my imagination.

    GOD. When is bk #3 coming out??? I finished Haze last night and I am JONESING for more!

    Fab post, Wendy!:)

  8. Sam (Realm of Fiction)

    I love how atmospheric Pan Beach is in this book. And now that I think about it, it is pretty rare to read about paranormal beings in a coastal area. Also, those images make me want to hop and a plane and leave miserable London behind forever! Port Douglas looks STUNNING. Why can’t I live in a place like that? ;)

    Thanks for sharing the brilliant post!

    • Wendy Darling

      Not too many angels hanging out on the beach. ;) I actually can’t think of any other instances of supernaturals in such an unusual setting, except for Kirsty Eagar’s Saltwater Vampires–which is, of course, also Australian.

      But I don’t know, I’d like to be in London myself right now, too! I miss the UK as well.

  9. Christina @ Christina Reads YA


    The only book I’ve read (kind of) set in Australia is Stolen, so you’ve already got me off the bat with that. But but but no matter how much I love a book with a very strong sense of time and place (this is now reminding me of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea), I’m also not a huge fan of PNR o.O. Unearthly had a wonderful sense of place and a nice spin on angels too, but it’s still not one of my favorite PNRs because it’s still PNR. I don’t know if that makes sense? It’s just that I’m more a fan of the PNRs that don’t actually *feel* that way.

    But how nice that the book coincided with your memories of Sydney! It must speak to the power of the book that it was able to evoke those memories for you.

    I love the title of the tour :).

    “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.” < -- It does sound interesting. I admit that I'm having a hard time picturing angels in the heat but I bet that's half the fun. I love how much thought went into creating the setting! The forest, the beach town, etc. HEY I WANT SOMEONE TO TAKE ME TO PATMOS JUST TO CONVINCE ME OF THE TRUTH. :O

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m willing to be persuaded in Patmos, too! I should tell the husband the next time we disagree about something.

      I know you have trouble with PNR sometimes, and I understand why. You SHOULD read some more Aussie YA, though, maybe on the contemporary or fantasy or sci fi side. I think you’d appreciate it.

      And yeah, it was actually kind of depressing to come back armed with Aus books, in a way, because it made me miss the country so much. *sigh*

  10. Rachel

    I actually have a copy of Shadows but I’ve been holding off reading it until I can get my hands on the sequels. Now I have some visuals to go along with the story! Thanks for the wonderful insight. I can’t wait to pick this story up as I’ve heard nothing but great things about it! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Hah, I know–it’s so hard to read something love it, and then have to wait for sequels! At least these are somewhat accessible. :) I’m sure you’ll love Shadows, Rachel.

  11. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    I just LOVE when books are based on real places! I’m such a visual person that it is wonderful to be able to transfer that into a book world. I love what Weston said about setting this story of darkness and drama in a bright and colorful setting. That’s definitely a contrast that I thought a lot about while reading. I also love to travel and there’s something magical about travel themes in books. I’m drawn to them every time. Basically I just want to go to Australia and Greece and Italy! I was thinking: I want to live in an Italian Monastery too! Then I remembered that I DID live in a convent when I studied in Italy for a semester in college. We even had real nuns who ran a school there and cooked for us. It was NOT as large as that one, but it was in the gorgeous town of Orvieto and quite enchanting. Now I’m thinking about how long ago that was and how old I am. But I digress, lovely post! I’m so glad that Paula Weston decided to share her book with the world.

    • Wendy Darling

      Wow, how lucky you were to live in a convent while you were abroad, Lauren! That must have been an amazing experience. I still haven’t been to Italy yet, but I definitely want to do that sometime.

      I love it when books explore real places, too. As much as I love Narnia, there’s no chance of ever going there. I think.

  12. starryeyedjen

    Gah! I’m booking my ticket now! :) I loved how the setting sort of became it’s own character in this story, and I can feel how important it was to the author in this guest post. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia, but the urge is even worse now. :D I adored Shadows and I borrowed a copy of Haze, yet I still can’t get enough of this story. It may be similar to others featuring angel lore, but those others can’t hold a candle to this series! I need more Rafa now! Australia, here I come!!!

    • Wendy Darling

      COULD I COME WITH YOU?! I’m ready to go again.

      But ugh, you already have HAZE in your hands! Somehow I didn’t get the memo that all the US bloggers should be reading that now, hah.

  13. astrader14

    I have not yet read any Australian YA books, but your review certainly makes me want to pick this one up. And the pictures made me add Australia to my “must visit” list!

    • Wendy Darling

      This somehow has turned into a mini Aussie week here on the blog, hah, because we also have a post by Fiona Wood today and I’m reviewing KINSLAYER later this week. Definitely try to get to Australia sometime if you can, and DEFINITELY try out some Aussie YA!

  14. Mel@Thedailyprophecy

    What a beautiful photos! It makes me even more jealous when I look outside now *it’s raining like crazy* I haven’t read this book yet and I actually haven’t heard much about it, but it looks great!

    • Wendy Darling

      Ugh, I know–it’d dreadfully hot here in LA and I long to be in Australia again, where the air is clean and the people are delightfully friendly. I hope you enjoy SHADOWS when you get to it, Mel!

  15. Kim

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I’m very, very intrigued by this book now! I absolutely love Australia and the idea of supernatural beings in Australia just seems so entertaining. This post makes me miss Australia a lot.

  16. Bookworm1858

    Those pictures are absolutely gorgeous. Australia definitely just jumped up a few places on my “Places I Want to Visit” List!

    • Wendy Darling

      I know, as lovely as the photographs make the place seem, I’m sure they don’t even come close to doing the place justice! I envy Gaby being there.

  17. Lyn Kaye

    I am not a highly religious person, but I love the thought of angels and demons. I think of them more in a fantasy setting than a religious setting. I suppose I love the abstract idea.

    Australia can look like “heaven on Earth”. I have always wanted to visit the river area, since it looks amazing!

    • Wendy Darling

      I am not a religious person at all, Lyn–although I believe in being good. :P I do so appreciate it when an author takes the time to research angel lore, though, as Paula did for her book–I believe she’s got some other guest posts planned where she goes into that in more detail!

      Australia really is gorgeous. *sigh* I miss it. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  18. Alise (Readers In Wonderland)

    Love this post, the photos are so gorgeous! My co-blogger lives in Australia so I will pass this along to her. It sounds like an amazing setting for a great novel, and I like the sound of the angels ;) I’ve yet to find a good angel book so I will be keeping my eye out for this one!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, there are good angel novels out there! You just have to look. Since you also didn’t enjoy several of the same PNR series I disliked, maybe you’d like this one too, Alise. :)

  19. Candace

    Oh wow, this is amazing! I LOVE books with Australian flavor and setting and those photos are STUNNING! I wanted to visit before but I want to visit even more now!
    I’ve also been dying to visit Greece, so that’s a bonus that they travel there in the book.
    I’m looking forward to reading this one!

    • Wendy Darling

      This book is practically made for you then, Candace! hee hee. I’ve never been to Greece either, but I definitely want to. And Italy! I must see Italy before I die. Girls in books get all the luck. And all the sexy angels.

  20. Amy

    Even though I’m not a huge fan of angel books, after reading this post and seeing the pictures I want to give it a try. Thank you for sharing this great post!

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m kind of suspicious of angel books too, Amy, but every once in awhile you get a good one! I hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to read it.

    • Wendy Darling

      Not sure what part of the country you’re in, Ashley, but beaches in southern California are pretty nice too. There’s something extra special about the beaches in Australia that I’ve been to, though–so clean and pretty!

  21. Tanja - Tanychy

    This is wonderful. I cannot stop looking at these photos and wow I’m fascinated. I still haven’t read the book but I’ll have to add to my to-do list visit Australia and all of these places. I’ll be back to this post as soon as I finish Shadows (at least until I get to experience the real thing.). Amazing post :)

    • Wendy Darling

      ABSOLUTELY visit Australia! We had such a lovely time in Sydney last year that it’s seriously the only place we’d consider retiring to at this point. Yeaaars down the road, of course. But that’s how much we loved it.

  22. Keertana

    I absolutely LOVE this post, both because of the images and also because setting plays such a vital role to the plot of this novel – especially so in HAZE. I thoroughly enjoyed this, so thanks for sharing, ladies!(:

    • Wendy Darling

      Of COURSE you’ve already ordered the sequel from overseas, hah. K and I were debating whether we should take Jasprit up on her offer to send us a copy, or whether we can wait a year for the North American edition.

  23. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Gah those waters look absolutely stunning. I am not a big traveller but I really loved getting a behind the scenes look at some of the inspirations for parts of the book. As for the book, I think it might be a good place to get my angel fix now that the Unearthly series is over! Sounds a bit more on the dark side, but still might do the trick!

    • Wendy Darling

      I wish I were more of a traveler than I am! I love seeing where stuff is set, too, so I’m really pleased Paula was willing to play tour guide for us.

      Definitely a darker take on angels than UNEARTHLY, but it also uses its setting well, just like CH did for Wyoming. (I actually wrote that into the intro, and then I deleted it because it was too long!)

  24. Liviania

    This book sounds awesome – I love unfamiliar settings, and I definitely haven’t read enough books set in Australia!

    • Wendy Darling

      So many great Australian YA authors, Liviana! A lot of great contemporary ones, but there are also terrific PNR and scifi/fantasy authors emerging, too.

  25. Vivien

    When I first saw this book I immediately knew I wanted to read it. Then I found out the setting and just died. Australia is just so utterly beautiful. I love it when books aren’t set in the typical US. It really broadens the horizons. Those pictures are most definitely lovely. Anytime you can read a novel set in a place you’ve been and relive your time there, I think that’s a complete winner!!

    • Wendy Darling

      This is SUCH a Vivien book, I feel! And yeah, I agree–I like finding YA authors who aren’t basing their books in the US, they’re few and far between. MERCY by Rebecca Lim is that other angel series by an Australian author, of course, but it doesn’t make use of the setting as vividly as this series does.

  26. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Australia’s been on my wish list to visit forever (almost literally!) but, until then, I’ll have to be satisfied to visit via books. Thanks for all the lovely visuals!

    • Wendy Darling

      III know, I wanted to go since I was a little girl, so going last year was a dream come true. Already want to go back, although we’d probably visit another area. It’s gorgeous and the people are absurdly nice–I hope you get a chance to go sometime, Mary!

  27. Melanie

    I would totally not mind to have half angels just trolling around on our beaches, especially if it’s Rafa. I have been to Pan Beach and it’s absolutely beautiful there!

    Great guest post Paula and thanks for sharing! <33

    • Wendy Darling

      The mind sort of boggles at the idea of angels lounging around on the beach! ‘Course, I’d be fine with Rafa lounging around anywhere. :D