Salamanders and “Callum’s Compass” — Sara L. Foust

Today I’m happy to welcome author Sara L. Foust as she shares insights behind her novel, Callum’s Compass.

The biggest element I needed to research when writing Callum’s Compass was the salamanders. I needed my heroine Kat to have a reason to be in the woods that would help tie into the treasure hunt as well. I had already decided she was a wildlife biologist, so I just needed to find the animal that she would be investigating. I needed something relatively diverse and widespread but also sensitive enough to be affected if someone was polluting a stream. I also needed this creature to be something others often overlook, because the bad guys were getting away with pollution and not raising red flags in the community. I settled on salamanders.

I find these tiny amphibians absolutely fascinating, and I thought I already knew quite a bit about them. I was wrong! I learned so much during my research. I had no idea there are 55 different kinds of salamanders that call Tennessee home. And once I found that out, I had the difficult task of deciding just which one would perfectly fit the story. It was harder than it sounds for me to make this decision!

I also didn’t know they are mostly nocturnal, doing the main portion of their feeding and breeding once the world goes dark and cools off. They are amphibians, which means they have to keep their skin moist, or they will die. Another fact I didn’t know is that they are carnivores. Who knew?

These little guys fit perfectly with the need to exacerbate Kat’s fear of the dark but gave her a valid reason to need to be out after sunset (her career). I love science and wildlife, so researching this particular topic was a lot of fun for me. I’ve always like salamanders and tried to keep an eye out for them when I’m near a water source, but now I know it’s better to find them right at dusk. We have a little creek at our church and the kids are constantly uncovering tiny, little salamanders to show us. It’s so much fun passing the information I’ve learned down to them.

Here is a wonderful website if you want to learn a bit more about the many species of salamanders in Tennessee:

About her book:

KAT WILLIAMS’S brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

RYAN JENKINS’S fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.

Buy Links:

About Sara

Sara writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Her debut novel Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest. She also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend’s group, please visit

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