Penguin Random House
July 3, 2017
Random House Australia Children’s
Bad things happen.
Fight to make them right.
Or let it wreck your life.
Once again Fleur Ferris has delivered a gripping and tension filled narrative which will have readers impatient to turn each page.
Tamara Bennett is about to start uni. Her part time journalist’s job for the local paper in her little town has developed into a full-on career path and she can’t wait to hit ‘O’ week with her best friend.
As her last contribution to the local news, she has followed her habit of scrounging through the flotsam at the beach and discovered an odd note sealed in a bottle. It appears to be a sign of life from someone meant to have disappeared, presumed dead, five years earlier. The ensuing snippet of news published in the paper has the worst possible consequences for Tamara as she becomes entangled in a web of danger and deceit perpetrated by one of the most powerful men in the country.
Told in turn from Tamara’s perspective and that of the man most cruelly affected by the earlier disaster, this is a suspenseful tale well written as we have come to expect from this author.
I particularly love the use of the names Knox and Christian – dark and light – for the contrasting cousins…and the surname Chisel for the wealthy and powerful family. It implies the blunt attack of a tool meant to break up solid objects and that is extremely apt for this family who once boasted they ruled both on land and at sea but are now totally shattered into fragments.
Caught up in the concealment of a crime more insidious than she can believe, Tamara is in turn trapped between believing the account of Will and being persuaded by the intimidating presence of Knox his older brother.
The climax of the story is purposefully intense and charged with real fear. The villains are particularly frightening and the reader is left breathlessly awaiting the salvation of Tamara and Will.
This is an absolutely fabulous read for readers of either gender from around Lower Secondary upwards. It will keep them on the edge of their seats and give them much to think about regarding the public persona of well-known people vs their private lives. Certainly it lends well to a debate on right and wrong, envy, loyalty and truth.
Highly recommended for Secondary readers!
Welcome to Just So Stories Fleur and what an absolute thrill to have you as Q&A and to talk about your new book ‘Wreck’.
- Your books are all very edgy and suspenseful – and sometimes even a wee bit scary – what prompts your plots?
When I hear of something I think, “What if?” and it usually starts from there. I draw from everything around me, current and historical events (local, national and international), and I enjoy discussing these ideas with friends and family.
- Perhaps you could tell us about your background before writing (for those who don’t know) and what triggered your desire to write?
I grew up on a wheat farm in North West Victoria. After year 12 I moved to Melbourne. Most of my adult life has been spent working in police and ambulance services in Victoria and South Australia.
I have always been a writer, even as a child. I have journals right back to when I was eight years old. In 2003 I wrote a short story and it was published in Woman’s Day. This sparked me to write more. Over the years, while I was a police officer and paramedic, I wrote novels that I never let anyone read. I knew in my early twenties that one day I wanted to be a published novelist but it wasn’t until I had children and left the Ambulance Service that I focused on writing for publication.
- Specifically, can you outline the genesis and development of ‘Wreck’?
I drew inspiration from a number of sources when coming up with the plot for Wreck. Whenever I heard of the discovery of a floating note at sea I wondered how long it had been floating for, how far it had travelled, who sent it, were they still alive, what did the note say. Often the discovery of these notes made world news and sometimes the sender, or members of their family, were tracked down. These stories got me thinking… What if the floating note wasn’t a wonderful discovery? What if it revealed something sinister? What if the person who found it was unknowingly thrust into danger simply because they had possession of it, simply because they had seen it? What if the note indicated or revealed something someone wanted concealed? For the discoverer, it would be as unfair as it was random and they would be completely blindsided by what was coming.
Instantly, my protagonist, Tamara, came to life in my mind. I knew where she lived, that she was the girl-next-door type of girl, excited by her goals and aspirations and about to move out of home and commence university. But instead of chasing her dreams she is running for her life.
I started out writing the book as the reader would read it, swapping from Tamara’s voice to William’s voice, however, their voices started to sound the same. I stopped doing that and then wrote two separate thriller stories, one from Tamara’s point of view, and the other from William’s. I then had the task of cutting those stories and pasting them together so the reader received the right information at the right time so the story made sense and maintained tension and pace.
- Tamara Bennett (Wreck) wants to report on ‘good news’ rather than focus on the negatives. In our current media climate it always seems to be very much the other way around. What are your personal thoughts on this?
With the regularity of atrocities and natural disasters that have occurred over the past few years it is easy to see why at times the news seems all negative, but I’m not sure if that is the case or if it’s because the “bad” news impacts people more, it’s the news that stays with us, the news that we think and worry about. I feel the news has become more graphic, but again, I don’t know if that is the case or if it’s because I now have children and it’s my job as a mother to sensor what they see. Maybe I didn’t notice it as much before I had children.
- Your female characters are strong, smart and resilient. Is this a very intentional aspect of your writing?
Yes and no.
I write strong, smart and resilient female characters because I write contemporary fiction and I see young women of today as having these traits. When I write a novel my main focus is on telling that story in the very best way I can, making it compelling and thrilling. When I create characters my intention is to reflect people of today. I’ve witnessed time and time again (in real life) people showing courage, strength and resilience in the face of crisis, just like my characters do in my books.
- Can you tell us about your process for writing and what your writing space looks like?
An idea for a story will brew in my mind for a long time, maybe years, before I start writing. I think of and see scenes like watching a movie. I never write any of these down, as I don’t need to. I don’t forget them. When I have thought up and seen enough scenes in my head the time comes where I feel ready to write it down. These scenes that I see cover the main plot line, so I know this part of the book but everything else happens on the keys as I’m writing.
Once I start writing I try and write the whole novel without losing momentum. It takes me anywhere between six to sixteen weeks to write a first draft.
I don’t have an office so I write at the kitchen table. My time for writing has changed over time. When the kids were little I wrote in the early hours of the morning (4am – 7am) because that was the only quiet time I had. Now I have the luxury of writing during daylight hours while the kids are at school.
- We always love to find out what authors like to read. What are your preferred genres/authors? What did you enjoy reading as a child?
The magic faraway tree by Enid Blyton was my favourite book as a child.
Throughout my younger adult years I was big into crime fiction and loved Patricia Cornwell’s books. I also loved Dean Koontz.
I loved the Hunger Games and Divergent Series.
Some authors I’ve read recently and loved are Rebecca James, Ellie Marney, Nicole Hayes, Rachael Craw (NZ writer), Gabrielle Tozer, Trinity Doyle, Will Kostakis, Shivaun Plozza and Nova Weetman. There are too many good #LoveOzYA authors to list!
My preferred genre is mystery/thriller.
- I read that you moved twenty times in twenty years – which I think even outdoes me! Was it wanderlust, necessity or just the way things rolled?
It was just how things rolled. I was renting/share housing for a lot of it and moved to wherever I was working. When I first joined the SA Ambulance Service I did relieving work so moved around a lot because of that. I love experiencing new places.
- What’s coming up next in your life – professional or otherwise?
I’m writing my next YA thriller which will be released mid 2018. I also have a middle grade novel coming out early 2019. I hope to keep more books coming!
- What do you hope your epitaph will read?
Fleur Ferris lived a long, full and happy life surrounded by friends and family, she travelled to snowy places all over the world and skied and wrote books until the very end.
Thank you so much for sharing some insight into your life and work. Your books have been some of the most well received and hotly discussed in my libraries :-).
Click here to visit Fleur’s website.