Fiona McArthur is a midwife, mother of 5 and author who has recently released her latest novel Red Sand Sunrise. We were able to find out a little about her in this interview.
Hi Fiona and welcome to Beauty and Lace.
Hi and thanks for having me. And I really love the last question.
What inspired you to pursue a writing career?
Little children and not much money can be very inspiring. I did a ‘Writing for Pleasure And Profit’ short course. After that I hoped I might be able to write my way into more disposable income for our family while the boys were growing up. Luckily, because the money isn’t that good, I re-discovered I loved making up stories so everything worked out.
You have had 30 books published in under a decade and a half, can you tell us how you manage to juggle work, life, family and writing so prolifically?
Everyone seems to be busy nowadays. For me it works if I get up two hours before everyone else. But then I go to bed pretty early too. The mornings are peaceful and creative for me and when the kids were little I didn’t have to worry that something might happen to someone when I wasn’t paying attention. I still get up early to get my words done before I go to work. It always feels good when I have even a few hundred words a day, and I get twitchy if I don’t write for a while.
What inspires your stories?
People. Places. Events. Situations. A snippet here, a characteristic there. A little anecdote tickles my fancy. Not whole people or whole events. Just snippets that reappear as another unrelated scene and I go from there. The world is a fabulous place. Travelling to new places always helps. That’s what I tell my husband.
Your latest release is Red Sand Sunrise, can you tell us a little about it?
RSS came about because I really wanted to write a book with the outback, like the tele-series and book ‘A Town Like Alice’; a medical theme – like ‘A Country Practice’ and because I was a midwife I wanted babies; and a city change – like in ‘Sea Change’. I started with the three sisters and the book took off on its own.
Do you plot or let your characters drive the story?
Definitely the characters tell me what is going to happen. I have a loose plot outline because I need one for the publisher, but it’s not unusual for me to not look at it again for a couple of months or even until after the book is finished when I remember it’s there.
What has been your career highlight to date?
First short story published. My husband drove his ambulance all over town telling people and making them buy that edition of the magazine. Also that first book in your hand is very cool. I was on the Circle when I published my first non-fiction Don’t Panic Guide To Birth, with Penguin a couple of years ago. I thought that was cool. And being nominated for the Romance Writers Of Australia R*BY competition was also lovely. I’m waiting to see my first book in an airport bookshop. That’s a very exciting thought too.
Have you got a favourite place to write?
I write at the kitchen table most times, but can write pretty well anywhere. When the writing is flowing and I’m transported that’s my favourite place to write. I love getting lost in the action so being by myself works better. Like anyone, I’d love a little beachside pad to write in.
What are you reading at the moment?
The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney. I’m loving it.
Can you tell us 5 of your all-time favourite books?
Cross Stitch-Diana Gabaldon, The Best Man-Kristin Higgins is a new one. Green Darkness – Anya Seaton- though it’s years since I read it and have downloaded it to my kindle, so will see if it is still up there. Sabretooth by Peter O’Donnel – all time fav. And, Eagle In The Sky, by Wilbur Smith – I’ve been thinking more about this lately and it’s interesting how you change your mind.
Are you working on something new that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a Flying Doctor book with a bevy of women of all different ages working out of a run down sheep station. I’m loving the characters.
What does being a woman mean to you?
I think this is a fabulous question. Being a woman means you can be amazing. Can dream as big or as small as you like, and you can make anything happen. A woman deserves a partner in life who sees how amazing she is. And as mothers, if you choose to have children, you can do the incredible and carry and birth a baby and be the most important person in the world for that child. So women are seriously cool. Every day I see women surprise themselves with their own strength and power. It’s the best part of being a midwife. I’m so glad I’m a woman- and I want to celebrate that strength every woman has- in the books that I write.