Fiona travelled to Broken Hill to research The Homestead Girls, which focuses on a sheep station in drought, medical emergencies in the outback, and a beautiful but desolate landscape where five women become a family and where ordinary women are doing extraordinary things.
Welcome to my chair, Fiona!
I know you travel a lot for your research. Can you tell my lovely blog readers:What is your favourite place out of all your travels and was there a book that came from it?If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
I love being Australian – that would never change.The area where I live in Australia, the climate, the river, the valley, the sea and even the sunset on the mountains in the distance, so I don’t want my base to change. This will always be my home. And my husband is here to stay. J
But if I could have a holiday house in another country – we are dreaming here, right? I love lots of places; especially Scotland and England, but my favourite place to escape would be a little apartment in an Italian village. Learn the language. Learn to cook. Don’t laugh. I’d love to learn to cook. Andwe could travel all around Italy from there on day trips and overnighters. Just love Italy. Imagine knowing you were going to spend a couple of months a year there just to write and relax and sightsee. It’s the art and the history and the cities, I love, too:Da Vinci, The Medici’s, Florence, Venice… I could rave on all day.
As for have I written a book there? I’ve set scenes in Italy, but usually they are travelling through, like I do. My two Cruise Ship books, The Orient Express book, writing about having a baby in an Italian hospital in Lyrebird Lake.
I’ve never set a whole book in Italy (like you have :) ) but could if someone would lend me a little apartment in a village.
The strength of female relationships came through strongly in The Homestead Girls. Where and how did you research that?
Female relationships are incredibly different from male relationships aren’t they! I had a fabulous relationship with my mum, though I didn’t really understand her until I left my teens and had my own kids and pulled my head out of my bottom, but she was everything you could want in a mum, and she was such a giver. Women are! Then I’ve worked with incredibly passionate midwives in my work, amazing women birthing, and the sisterhood of women writers, so I’m a believer. Strength in women is there to be celebrated – and should be!
Who is your favourite character in the Homestead Girls, or who did you enjoy writing the most?
Lorna. Yep. And I’m having fun with her in my new book, too. I thought I’d lost her – so there must have been a really good reason she survived. :)
Is it hard to find a balance when you describe the medical conditions and procedures?
In medical scenes there is a balance of how graphic you need to be. I have to make sure I’m focussed on the emotional impact and progression of story and not just writing another medical scene. Very similar to adding sex to a book. Has it got a reason to be there? How does it propel the story – which sometimes I forget because I’m a pantser and not a plotter so medical scenes happen when they ping into my brain. But I also wanted to make sure the incredible job flight nurses and doctors do was a part of this story and it will be a part of the next book. I’m in the moment when I’m writing emergency situations so I’m feeling the stress of it all. J
What are you working on at the moment?
A non-fiction project, Australian Midwives, an anthology for Penguin, and I’m loving the incredible women I get to interview. Plus 500 words a day on the next book set in Mica Ridge. Plus two other projects. So I’m a little busy because I work 28 hours a week and LOVE my job as a Midwifery Educator so not leaving that any time soon. Just need to sleep less. Like you J
Thanks Annie and happy writing to you, too. xxFi
You can find The Homestead Girls here:
What a wonderful and uplifting story. Fiona McArthur has captured the essence of female friendship in this heart warming story. The characterisation of each person , even the minor characters, was finely drawn, and I felt as though I was a part of the community. A wonderful story, with the added bonus of a second romance. Highly recommended.