Hi Meredith, welcome to Beauty and Lace. Thanks for talking with us today.
Can you tell us a little about your beginnings as a writer?
Thank you. It all began because I’ve always liked to read. To me it seemed a natural transition: read enough books and I should be able to write one. Right? Sort of. I suppose I didn’t ever doubt that I could do it, I just needed a few prompts and pushes along the way. And a whole lot of learning about the craft. I’ve never stopped learning. And I’ve kept reading.
Your work explores health services in rural and remote areas, is this inspired by your work in country health?
Yes, it is. Nurses provide care to people when they are at their most vulnerable. Patients trust you with their lives. I’ve been lucky enough to work in a variety of healthcare settings, and I’ve met and worked with some amazing people. And providing healthcare in rural and remote communities comes with enormous challenges. For example, the tyranny of distance makes everything more expensive, and it’s harder to recruit and retain staff.
The latest release is Home at Last, can you tell us a little about it please?
Home at Last is my fourth novel. It’s set in the outback city of Broken Hill with the Royal Flying Doctor Service as the backdrop. I’ve switched around traditional stereotypes making Anna Kelly the RFDS pilot, and Nick Harrison the RFDS flight nurse. It’s about finding your way home, wherever that might be.
With a career in country health, are there similarities between you and leading lady Anna?
Only in my dreams … Anna is tall and thin … I’m not! And she’s a pilot.
From my experience RFDS pilots are an extremely skilled and dedicated workforce. From the moment that aircraft starts to taxi, you’re in their capable hands, until you’re back on the ground.
Is there anything in particular you want readers to learn or take away from your books about the challenges of country health?
To give readers another perspective on the services they perhaps take for granted. Australia is a vast country. The more remote you are, the greater the challenge for healthcare workers to provide help when you are sick or injured.
What is the thing you miss the most about nursing?
I was just talking to another retired nurse about this the other day, and we agreed that what we miss most is the camaraderie. Because of the work nurses do, when you meet another nurse there’s an instant rapport: you just know how it is for them.
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
I am working on another book. Just finishing off the first draft. It’s set in the Mid North of South Australia. The working title is: In the Absence of Grace. The plan is for it to be out this time in 2020.
What do you love to read?
The best question! Crime and romantic suspense would be my favourites. Basically, I just love a good story. With bits that make me laugh.
Can you tell us your favourite (or top 5) read of 2018?
My most favourite read for 2018 would have to be The Lost Man by Jane Harper. My head remained in the story long after I’d finished the book.
Scrublands by Chris Hammer and Redemption Point by Candice Fox both had me turning the pages into the wee hours. There are some fabulous Australian crime writers. Oh, and Heaven Sent by Alan Carter. His character Cato Kwong is excellent. And the series is set in Australia.
Finally, I just have to throw in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson. I listened to the audiobook on my morning walks, mainly because I wanted to know why everyone was reading it! It was great.
If an aspiring author came to you for advice what would be the first thing you told them?
There’s an old saying (with a few variations): ‘success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration’ . For an author it’s making a commitment to write; it’s the long hours to meet deadlines, and when you don’t have actual deadlines, you need to set them for yourself; it’s the discipline to sit at your desk when you’d rather be outside in the sunshine; it’s the preparedness to accept feedback and criticism … This is the perspiration. The inspiration is the easy bit.The reward is the joy and satisfaction of holding the finished book in your hands, and a reader saying they loved it!
Thanks for your time Meredith and good luck with the launch of Home at Last.
In A Great Southern Land is published by Harlequin MIRA and is available now where all good books are sold.