Today it is my absolute pleasure to welcome Australian romance author Fiona McArthur to my blog, to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Red Sand Sunrise.
Like a lot of girls from the country, Fiona moved to Sydney at seventeen and started her training as a nurse, and later a midwife. There she met her wonderful husband, Ian, and they’ve been married for thirty-three years and blessed with five boys, now between nineteen and thirty years.
Prudently, when they began to produce boys, they moved to northern NSW and now live on two hundred acres with kangaroos, wallabies and grass that grows faster than the speed of light when it rains.
Fiona has always loved reading which has fed her passion for writing. Her first medical romance novel was published by Harlequin in 2001 and she is now on her thirty-first novel. She has been nominated for the Romantic Book of The Year with Romance Writers of Australia and the US based Cataromance Readers Choice Award and has sold over 2 million books, in twelve languages.
Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know her a bit more.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Penguin Books Australia, especially Maria from their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.
Fiona, it’s really wonderful to have you here to celebrate the release of your latest novel Red Sand Sunrise.
Thanks so much for inviting me, Marcia, it’s lovely to be here. It’s been such an exciting ride the last couple of weeks.
I've just finished reading Red Sand Sunrise (what a great book - my review here) but for those that haven’t, would you mind telling us about it?
Red Sand Sunrise is a rural fiction about three sisters; a midwife, a GP and an obstetrician, who learn to appreciate each other while working to provide a service for pregnant women in the outback. They’re very different personalities and I wasn’t so sure how they were going to bond but the conversation and growth between them was great fun and the book flew.
Could you share with us the amount of research that went into writing Red Sand Sunrise.
I’m a midwife who works in a country hospital, so I have a fair bit of background expertise, though we look after low risk women. The cold hard facts are we have so many more resources than the women in the outback have at their disposal. Luckily I get to spend education weekends with midwives and doctors who work and fly all over Australia so I’m always pestering them for stories and reality checks. There’s also a team of fabulous sexual health workers in the building next door to my work who have answered lots of my questions for RSS and the original idea came from a midwifery conference. Then there was the really fun part of travelling around western Queensland with my husband to soak in the sights and sounds and heat.
Well, I think you've done a brilliant job and it definitely shows. Could you please share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author?
I loved writing stories at school but didn’t start writing ‘For Pleasure and Profit’ until after I had four little boys. It took me ten years, and another little boy, before I actually finished a book, but that was the one I sold. It was one of the most exciting days of my life. Not surprisingly I was waiting for a baby to be born at work when the news came through and I still remember that baby’s birthday.
Do you, as a writer, have a motto or maxim? What is it?
Same as I have for women having babies or new mums. Believe in yourself. Go with your instincts. For writing, I add one more. Be professional when you present your work.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Finish the damn book. From Emma Darcy. I stopped writing ten years of three chapters and synopsis. Thankfully I finished the ‘damn book’ and sold it the next year.
When did you start writing seriously and what motivated you?
As I said, we had four little boys and then five, and my husband was working long hours as a country ambulance officer. He was paying the bills and I thought writing on my days off would be another income I could make, (I did two shiftwork days a week as midwife) as a way of being able to afford fun things. I used to write between 4am and 6 am when the boys were asleep. Since I sold my first book I’ve been writing between two to three books a year for the last twelve years. The friends I’ve made with other writers, and fabulous readers letters, have been the biggest bonuses. Now Red Sand Sunrise is the start of a whole new adventure and I can’t wait to finish the next book for Penguin. It will be out this time next year.
An adventure that I'm sure your fans are going to share through your writing! Fiona, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for joining me today and once again, a huge congratulations, but before you go, would you mind giving us a sneak peek of Red Sand Sunrise?
The start of Chapter Two:
"Duncan Wilson’s wake was held at the Imperial Hotel. Eve followed Callie’s car to the pub as she mulled over her first impressions of the two women in Duncan’s life.Funny how she’d assumed Callie would be tall and slim like her and Sienna, but Callie was like her mother. Sylvia was small and dark-haired, almost pixie-ish, with the kindest eyes Eve had ever seen, and Callie had her mother’s build and eyes in an elegant package.There had been none of the stand-offishness she’d expected as the representative of Duncan’s other family. Maybe it was a good thing Sienna hadn’t come; if anyone could instantly get up people’s noses it was Sienna.Eve turned into the pub’s crowded red-dirt car park and pulled up in front of a post and rail fence that looked like it had had one too many drinks itself. How appropriate. She could almost hear Sienna’s condescending comment: ‘Very rustic.’Well, Eve loved it. The building sat back a little from the red dusty edges of the tarred road, its most distinguishing feature the silver tin roof that hung over the encircling verandahs. A flagpole stood to the side and Eve felt her eyes sting as she took in the Australian flag hanging limply at half-mast, forlorn in the hot, still air. She wondered how many times the father she couldn’t remember had run his fingers through the rope at the side of the flagpole.A couple of wooden steps led to the main doorway, which lay on the diagonal. It looked like someone had snipped off a corner of the pub just as they would snip off the corner of a packet of frozen peas.The heat from the sun soaked into her hair as if someone had pointed a blow dryer to her head and when she touched her crown she was astounded at the burn beneath her fingers. This place was insane."
Red Sand Sunrise can be purchased from the following links: