Fiona Lowe is a prolific Australian author who we have loved featuring as part of the Beauty and Lace Book Club, and who we are thrilled to be reading again in March. A selection of our readers will be delving into Home Fires this month, and we will hear what they thought soon. In the meantime here’s a little about the book and it’s author.
Sit back and get to know Fiona Lowe a little better with us.
Hi Fiona, welcome to Beauty and Lace and thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
Many authors have a lot of early unpublished work around, and their journey has changed their style a bit even in their published work. What do you think when you look back on some of your early writing?
I started off writing a journal and then long letters home when I was living and travelling overseas. I sort of fell into writing when I read one medical romance. ‘I’m a nurse,’ I thought.’I can do that!’ Deluded, right? Absolutely! I couldn’t even format a document. My first attempt at a novel was soundly rejected but I later reworked it and one other and they became my fourth and fifth published novels. Now, 32 books and three genres later, I am not brave enough to read my debut!
Can you tell us a little about how you started out in your writing career?
Sure! I kinda started answering that in question one, didn’t I? I was at home with a six-month-old baby and I really didn’t want to have to navigate childcare to return to work. I heard a radio interview about writing books and I thought, ‘Great! I’ll do that, because I can stay at home with the baby and write and earn money.’ As I said before, totally deluded. But when you have no fear holding you back, you plunge right in. BTW, it took four full novels written over a period of ten years before I sold my first book. Yep, I’d been back juggling childcare and working outside the home for quite a few years!
Has your time as a midwife, sexual health counsellor and family support worker inspired your writing?
It’s had a huge impact on my writing. I’ve had the privilege of working with many different people facing a variety of physical and mental health challenges. Some were financially rich and emotionally poor, some were homeless, some had fantastic support systems and others were battling life alone. I learned about resilience and hope, inventiveness and acceptance, and the kindness of strangers.
The new novel is Home Fires, can you tell us a little about it?
I’d love to! HOME FIRES is set in a fictitious country town nestled in the Victorian Otway ranges. The book opens eighteen months after a bushfire razed the town. The politicians are in town opening the sixth new building. “You’re good to go now,” the residents are told, only they’re not. Myrtle’s economy is stagnant and people bear the physical and emotional scars of the fire. A group of women, all with their own post-fire issues, are unwillingly pushed together to try and regenerate Myrtle.
What inspired the story?
Bushfires have always been on the edge of my life. I nursed the badly burned Ash Wednesday victims and that’s an experience that never leaves you. Four days before the Black Saturday fires, we’d driven through Kinglake on our way to taking our eldest son to school. Four years later, as we drove our younger son to the same school, I was shocked to see people still living in containers and caravans on empty blocks. But the fire that finally pushed me to write Home Fires was Christmas Day 2015 when friends and extended family had to stand up and evacuate, abandoning their Christmas dinner.
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
I’m working on my 2020 release. The working title is Not That Kind of Woman. I’m exploring the complex issues of motherhood, friendship and careers across the generations.
You write in a range of genres, what do you love to read?
I like a great story. I’ll follow a well-developed, well-motivated character almost anywhere! That said, I don’t cope very well with psychological thrillers as they give me anxiety and chest pain.
Did you have a favourite read of 2018?
I really enjoyed TOO MUCH LIP by Melissa Lucashenko. It’s a contemporary novel set on the coast near the Queensland/NSW border. I’d go so far as to say every Australian should read it.
Is there anything you are particularly excited about releasing in 2019?
Home Fires! TBH, I am so far behind in my reading, I have 2018 books I’m still excited to read, such as The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton and Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales. Sadly, I do not have a lot of time to read outside of holidays.
Thinking about aspiring writers, what’s the most important piece of advice you would give?
Gah! My advice is something I need to do myself. Read widely. Read the authors whose books pull you in so deeply you stop the clock until you’ve finished reading; cooking, cleaning and picking up the kids from sport be damned! You learn so much from reading well-crafted books. Oh, and write something every day as that way you always have something to edit and build on.
Thanks so much for having me here at Beauty and Lace Book Club
Home Fires is published by HQ Fiction and is available now where all good books are sold.