It is my pleasure this interview to introduce you to a talented Aussie author, Fiona Palmer, who has just released a fabulous new rural romance called The Road Home. And I must say it was the quickest question turnaround I’ve had which was a very welcome surprise, thanks so much Fiona.
Your books have been described as rural romance, can you tell us a little about the genre?
For me it was writing about our rural way of life first and then adding a romance element. I love romance, but even more romantic is the sunsets and the skies full of stars. For me there is something magical about the county. I think if you have a horse, or land and even have a book set in small country towns, these all come under the rural heading.
The Road Home is your third novel, which has just been released, what can you tell us about the book?
It follows Lara, who was born and raised on a farm but was sent away to boarding school in the city, and now lives and works in the CBD. But what she doesn’t realise is that she is still a country girl at heart, so we follow the changes she makes when she hears her family farm is about to be sold. To keep the farm in the family she must run it, but she has been in the city most of her life so it’s a shock to her system learning how to run a farm. Her brothers best mate doesn’t help either. So expect sparks.
What do you think is the best aspect of growing up in a small town?
The fact that you know everyone. It’s such a safe feeling. A big comfort zone. I loved the freedom to go anywhere, play in the bush, drive cars and ride bikes all over and get dirty.
Can you tell us a bit about where you get your inspiration, character and setting?
My inspiration comes from the land, from stormy nights, the first rain after a long hot summer, the smell of fresh turned earth at seeding time, and just feeling the breeze that brings the smell of eucalyptus and dust. I find it all so energising. And the characters come from the people I know or have met, the ones battling fires or helping out neighbours in a tough time. So I have it all around me. I feel very lucky.
You have had quite a wide range of jobs throughout the years, which has been the most satisfying?
It would have to be working with the kids as an EA. I loved It. Working with pre-primary to year 3 in mixed classes, helping them to learn. You realise just how important it is, what you are teaching them at a young age and it’s special to be a part of that. I love seeing my little pre-primary students who are now in their final stages at high school, they have grown so much. My kids are growing at a rapid rate also and it’s rather terrifying.
How did you choose to embark on a writing career?
More like it chose me. I ended up with a story I wanted to tell, not a writer who wanted to write. Even though I thought I wasn’t good enough (my school grades prove this) I still had the urge to write what I had in my head. Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to read it.
Can you tell us a little about the Australian Society of Authors mentorship you received for The Family Farm?
I heard about them and the mentorship so I joined and sent in my first three chapters. Now, they were not very good as I knew nothing about double spacing or how to set up your manuscript. Mine was a chunk of block print. So finding out I had won a mentorship, which meant they thought my words were worthy of extra help, was wonderful. It gave me that extra boost to keep going with my story and working with Romance writer Janet Woods helped with the rest. She was an invaluable source of information and she also put me onto the Romance Writers of Australia and I haven’t looked back. I love the friends I have made through the RWA.
What can you tell us about your journey to publication?
After working through my ms after the mentorship I had a relative, who had just finished a proofreading course at uni, to read through it. Did a few more tweeks and then sent it off to Allen & Unwin Friday pitch. I never heard back from them so I thought I’d try Penguin as they publish Rachael Treasure, who was in the same genre. I knew they didn’t accept unsolicited ms but I sent it anyway with a synopsis, three chapters and a letter on why I thought they’d want my book. A few weeks later I had an email from Ali Watt’s, who is Rachael’s publisher, requesting the full manuscript. Before too long I was offered a contract. Totally amazing!
How do you like to wind down and relax?
With a great book or a movie. Love romcom’s. I like sitting down, knowing the movie I watch is a feel good one and that I’ll be satisfied by the end of it. Throw in a good belly laugh and I’m happy. (Oh and the kids are at school so I get to watch it without interruptions or whining.)
What are you reading at the moment, and what’s your favourite genre?
I have two favourite genres. I’ve just finished Purple Roads by Fleur Mcdonald. (Of course I love reading my own genre!!) And I’ve started a book called Awake at Dawn. It’s a YA. I loved The Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Stories with strong female characters and romance get me every time.
Can you tell us anything about what’s next for Fiona Palmer?
I’m busy with a final read through of my fourth book before I send it off to the publishers. Then I will start work on my fifth book. But in between I have a lot of publicity to get through with The Road Home.
What does being a woman mean to you?
I don’t know if I’m the best person to ask that question, seeing as I was a tomboy growing up and wanted to be like the boys. But I love my kids, have always wanted to have babies and have a family. (Some days when I’m tearing my hair out over the kids, I question my choice) But now I wouldn’t change being a woman as I came to realise that you can do anything you want, whether it’s a man’s job or not.
Thank you so much for your time Fiona, it was a pleasure talking to you and I can’t wait for books four and five. I loved The Road Home.