THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
Absent Shadows Trilogy: Destiny, Sacrifice & Deception
This YA paranormal romance trilogy takes place (predominantly) in Melbourne, Australia but also in the San Francisco Bay Area. The story is completely fictional; however the Melbourne settings are real locations which are some of the oldest parts of Melbourne, namely the Queen Victoria Market and the Flagstaff Gardens.
I’d like to share with you a bit of the history of this part of Melbourne so you will understand what inspired me to write this story about ghosts and vampires set in this area.
A few years ago, I was working in Melbourne around the corner from the Queen Victoria Market, which is not far from the Flagstaff Gardens. One day while out walking at lunchtime, I started sensing that the area was the perfect setting for a story about ghosts and vampires. There had been a strong resurgence in the popularity of vampires and ghosts, and I’d always been keenly interested in both. In fact, I’d done a late night ghost tour through the area just a few years earlier. It was on this ghost tour that I first learned the history of the cemetery under the market’s carpark.
When I set out to write the story, I decided to do a bit of research on the area. Of course I headed straight to Google and WIKIPEDIA. I read numerous accounts of the market and the gardens, and although not everything I read was consistent, it seemed the general consensus was that the area we now call the Flagstaff Gardens was originally referred to as Burial Hill and was the site of Melbourne’s first burials.
As Melbourne grew, the Melbourne Cemetery was built in the area that is now the Queen Victoria Market. This cemetery was used from 1837 until the early 1850’s. Then, in the early 1850’s, what is now referred to as the Melbourne General Cemetery was built.
In the early 1900’s there were plans to expand the Queen Victoria Market, so a number of bodies (approximately 900) were exhumed from the Old Melbourne Cemetery and relocated to other cemeteries. However poor records, deterioration of headstones and numerous other factors prevented the remaining bodies from being exhumed.
To this day, there is no doubt that a large number of bodies remain under the market carpark, but the exact number seems somewhat debatable. Some accounts suggested that there were originally over 10,000 bodies in the Old Melbourne Cemetery. However, another report suggests that due to a fire in 1864 which destroyed early records, the 10,000 bodies cannot be verified. So the question remains; are 9,000+ bodies still there today? Or is it a lesser number?
Regardless of the exact number, there is no argument that not all the bodies were exhumed. Therefore, when you walk across the carpark, you are walking over the top of thousands of bodies that reside as little as six feet below.
Now, with the Melbourne City Council in the midst of massive redevelopment plans for the area, the controversy lives on.
You can read all about the history by simply Googling “Old Melbourne Cemetery”. It makes for some very interesting reading, indeed.
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Set in one of the oldest parts of Melbourne, Australia, the Absent Shadows Trilogy is the story of nineteen year-old Lili McIntyre who decides to trade her California summer for a mid-winter visit to Australia in hope of finding inspiration and direction in the country where her father was born.
But when she arrives in Melbourne, the first thing she finds is the last thing she’s looking for—a brooding man who makes her heart race every time she sees him. Against her better judgement, Lili finds herself drawn into a relationship that tests her very beliefs about life, reality and fantasy.
As the story progresses, Lili must learn how to follow her destiny as she faces some of the hardest decisions of her life, makes incredible sacrifices, and encounters deception from places where it is least expected.
Follow Lili’s journey across the Pacific Ocean as she travels from the San Francisco Bay Area to Melbourne, and all across Australia.
Sometimes, when something bad happens, time seems to slow to a crawl.
Like that time I was running to visit my friend who lived down the street. I was only about ten at the time, but it seemed like it was yesterday. I remember exactly how it felt as I ran down that street toward her house. And how, when I was only part way there, I stepped on an acorn and my foot rolled out from under me. As I fell, the pavement got closer and closer to my face—in horrible slow-motion. I hit the ground with my hands stretched out in front of me, scraping the skin off both palms. They barely bled but man they hurt like crazy.
Yes, I could replay that memory like a slow-motion movie in my head even now—years later.
But this … well, this wasn’t like that.
What happened next was like a series of still photos. Tom flew out of the bedroom in a blur, but stopped just long enough for the image of his face to be burnt into my mind. His eyes were no longer soft brown, but were instead a glowing red, and his normally tanned complexion was now pallid grey. But what really stood out was the blood that ran down from the corner of his mouth.
Then I heard Sam’s voice—loud and harsh. ‘Go!’
Tom was gone and I heard the door slam.
I closed my eyes for no more than a long blink—it couldn’t have been more than a second—but when I opened them, Sam was in the bedroom, bending over Claire. Was he doing something to her neck? She was so still.
I ran to the doorway but stopped short of going in. I couldn’t draw a breath to scream or talk. I just stood there, frozen.
About the Author:
S M Spencer was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.
As a young teenager her mother introduced her to the world of romantic suspense by encouraging her to read the works of authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. These books stirred a passion in her that would last a lifetime—to become a writer.
Feeling the need to experience life before embarking on a writing career, Ms Spencer completed a business degree. Her career eventually landed her in Melbourne, Australia, where she has lived ever since. Yet her true passion to be a writer never abated.
SM Spencer now writes from her home in the outskirts of Melbourne, where she lives with her husband, horses, cats and dogs.
All of Ms Spencer’s books can be found on Amazon –