I am thrilled to welcome our Awesome Aussie Author for this week, Fleur McDonald. Fleur writes enthralling rural mysteries that are steeped in the beauty of the Australian countryside, her characters three dimensional and authentic. Her next book, Purple Roads, assures to be another bestseller and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy. It will hit the shelves on April 2nd.
Welcome, Fleur. It’s wonderful to have you here today.
Where were you born, raised, schooled and what was the most mischievous thing you did when you were a child?
I was born at Booleroo Centre, which is a short drive from where I grew up in Orroroo. I spent primary school oat Orroroo Area School but headed to Adelaide to board at Annesley College from year eight. It was a huge change for me, having to report in and out to school mistresses and, feeling like I had lost my freedom, I really resented having to be at boarding school. I did settle down by about year ten but could never say I really loved my time there.
My dad was a trickster, so he was always getting me to play jokes on my mum, when I was little. The main one was, we would get to about Jamestown, on the way home from Adelaide, in the truck and stop at a telephone box to ring Mum and tell her where we were. Dad would say: ‘Tell her we’re just leaving and we’ll be home in about three and half hours,’ then he’d wink and grin. Dutifully I’d repeat it all to mum (I was about six or seven!) and then about three quarters of an hour later, we’d drive into the depot.
I was also known to wag school and catch the tram down to Glenelg and hangout at the beach when I should have been studying for exams.
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 author, I just wanted to see if I could write a book.
I grew up in a family that told stories,wrote poetry and family history and my cousin, Brett Heaslip and his mate Troy Dann helped Lee Kernaghan write ‘The Boys From the Bush’. If we (and by we, I mean my mum, dad, brother and sister, AND my cousins and aunty and Uncle) we were playing guitars, writing songs or singing ones we’d already written.
When I first left school, my parents gave me a Comprehensive Writing Course from The Writing School, which I had a lifetime to finish. I started it my first year out of school, but got too busy, with freedom, jobs and hanging out with my mates.
My son was diagnosed with autism and some of his early intervention was trying to lengthen his attention span by writing stories about things he knew – like our sheep dogs and so on. I suddenly remembered how much I loved writing and started to study the craft of writing again, this time with a bit more of a serious attitude than I’d had earlier in the piece.
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 my kid’s books and later, 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 elsewhere. 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 and where do you like to write?
I really love early mornings. Starting at about 4am and still being there as the sun creeps over the horizon. It’s a very special part of the day.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming book? And what date it will be released?
Purple Roads will be released on the 2nd of April 2012.
It’s about a couple who have to fight for everything they hold dear, but as they do, they find themselves in the middle of something much bigger and more dangerous than they could have ever imagined.
Where do you find inspiration for your stories?
Everywhere! Inspiration is everywhere you look. Coupled with an overactive imagination, I can be a very dangerous piece of gear, when I get on a roll!
What is your favourite meal?
I love good food and good wine so I can’t claim to have a favourite meal. Actually, yes I can! It’s the one I don’t have to cook, since I feed workmen and family every day.
I love a good risotto, pasta, steak, lamb chops, salad… do I need go on?
Who is your favourite Australian?
There really are too many of them – I’m in awe of the work people like Fiona Wood do,but I love Jack Thompson and Geoffrey Rush as actors.
My parents are pretty incredible too.
What is your favourite Aussie saying?
Where would be your ideal place to holiday?
I would love to visit Yorkshire and see where James Herriot’s books were based – he was my favourite childhood author.
A friend of mine and I have made a pact to go to Italy for our fortieths, but since I haven’t discussed that with my husband, it’s unlikely to happen!
I’d also love to spend some of winter in The Man from Snowy River country.
Cheers, Fleur, for being my guest today. It's been such a pleasure chatting with you.
You can find out more about Fleur at her website.
Next week ourAwesome Aussie Author is another fellow rural writer, Margareta Osborne. Her soon-to-be released debut novel, Bella’s Run, is high on my list of books to get my hot little hands on. If you love rural romance, you going to love Margareta Osborne so be sure to pop on by next week for my Awesome Aussie Author segment.
Thought for this week
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door”
Until next week, keep dreaming and smiling.