Hope your week has been full of good times! (great song by Alan Jackson!)
I can feel the scorching summer weather beginning to fade away, replaced by the crisp autumn breeze that stirs my curtains and holds with it the promise of winter. I adore winter in Dimbulah. We actually get to wear our jumpers for a whole two months, if we are lucky!
Today I have the talented Fleur McDonald, a fellow rural fiction author, here to answer a few questions about herself and her life as a best selling author and farmer.
Welcome Fleur and thanks for being my guest blogger today. I'm so excited to have you here. You were one of the authors that inspired me to write in the first place!
Where were you born, raised, schooled?
I was born in the Booleroo Centre Hospital. That’s only a stones throw from where I grew up, at Orroroo.
I loved Orroroo – the town was so small that Mum could send me up to the main street, to do the mailing or banking, from when I was about ten. Everybody knew each other and kept an eye out for each others kids (of course that could have its down falls as well!). I had a huge amount of freedom, to roam around outside, living in a town like that.
My primary schooling was at Orroroo Area School, whilst I headed to Adelaide, as a boarder, at Annesley College, for my high years. I lost so much independence when I went to boarding school, that I really disliked it.
How long did it take you to get published and how did you feel when you were told you had a contract?
I am very much, one of the lucky ones. I never set out to become a published writer, I just wanted to see if I could write a book. That was in 2005, when my son started kindy. I’d had a lot of encouragement from my writing mentor, Jeff Toghill and it was he who encouraged me to try and get a publishing house for Red Dust.
I’m very much known for my ‘bull-at-a-gate’ attitude and impatience, so when I decided that I was going to submit to the Allen and Unwin Friday Pitch Day, I did it with a half completed manuscript. When Louise came back to me, she said it was not quite what she was looking for at the time, but my writing was strong and commercial. She encouraged me to look else where. I decided I didn’t want to do that, so I re-jigged the first three chapters, waited about three months and then resent it.
That time, I only had to wait two weeks and I was given a contract.
I can still remember the phone call I had, from Louise, to tell me that she wanted to offer me a contract. I’d been flat out on the farm and it was my first day home for about two weeks. When she rang, she said ‘Hi, it’s Louise.’ I wasn’t expecting her call and started to think, ‘who the hell is Louise!’
She then went on to tell me who she was and why she was calling... I started to shake, couldn’t speak and then decided I needed to be very professional whilst talking to her. She said later that I was one of the most unexcited authors she had ever spoken to – she couldn’t see me jumping on my bed and laughing, when she hung up the phone!
What time of the day/night do you prefer to write?
Definitely early morning – 4am or so.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book, Purple Roads?
Well, without giving too much away, it’s about a married couple - I’d wanted to branch out slightly, this time. Secondly, even though there is farming involved, there isn’t actually a farm and there is a Vietnam War aspect to it. Thirdly, Dave Burrows from Red Dust makes a reappearance!
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
It’s hard not to live on a farm and not have inspiration for a setting. And of course, living ‘in’ the setting, it’s not hard to get the sense of place, right. However, all the story lines just come from my vivid imagination! I’ve always been known for my imagination and drama queen acts, so now, instead of annoying my family with them, I channel it all into a book!
Name three things you really love about being a farmer.
Lambing and calving – it is such a privileged to see a new life come into the world and I get to see that every year.
Winter – I love the rain, seeing it run into the dams, knowing that there will be green grass for feed. I also love dancing in it.
Weighing lambs – that might sound funny, but with the feedlot, we weigh lambs about every two weeks. It’s so cool watching them grow, putting on weight and knowing that we’re doing a good job of feeding them and that our breeding is right.
What is your favourite meal?
Actually I’m a bit of a foodie, so I’m not sure I’ve got just one! I love anything Italian, especially pasta, but I also really enjoy a good steak, risotto, yabbies, that sort of thing. Just so long as there’s a nice white wine to go with it, usually I’m happy.
Who is your favourite Australian?
Not sure. Fiona Wood is an exceptionally impressive lady, but there are so many other people who do good works amongst communities and aren’t recognised. So, those sort of people, but also my husband and kids. (I can say that, can’t I?)
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
Tassie, The Man from Snowy River country and Gippsland
I've really enjoyed having you here today Fleur and I look forward to reading Purple Roads when it hits the shelves.
Thought for this week
Facts are like cows. If you look them in the face hard enough they generally run away!
Until next week, keep smiling and dreaming