Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Fiona Palmer

Today I’d like to welcome rural fiction author, Fiona Palmer to the blog! Fiona has kindly agreed to give away a copy of her book, The Road Home to one lucky person, anywhere in the WORLD!… see the end of the interview for how to enter.

1.      Welcome Fiona, please tell us about your new release, THE ROAD HOME:

It’s centred around Lara and her brother Noah and his best friend Jack. Noah, being the son, got to go to Ag School and stay on the family farm while Lara was sent away to boarding school in the city (and never came back). Then Noah has to sell Erindale and Lara ends up being the solution to keeping the farm in their family, swapping her business heels for work boots.  While she’s trying to learn how to run the farm, as well as solving a few inconsistencies, she’s also trying to figure out why Jack dislikes her, even though they hit it off in their first meeting. But Jack has his own issues to deal with after running away from New Zealand. Can these two come together over the land they both love? Well you’ll just have wait and see as I can’t give away too much. ;)

2.      What do you love most about being an author?

I love creating. I love writing stories set in the bush that are as believable/real/relatable as possible. I’m very passionate about where I live, the characters I meet and our way of life and just really want to share that with everyone. (Oh, and did I mention I can create/invent the nicest blokes…all modelled off my husband of course!) And no, he didn’t pay me to say that.

3.      How do you keep coming up with new ideas and storylines?

You know, I really don’t know!! I’ll think ‘Crap! What am I going to write about next?’, but before I can stress an idea has popped into my head. Sometimes a news story can trigger it or something I do or hear. At the moment I’m about to finish my fourth book and I already have another two books that are starting to take shape in my head.  So far, so good. :)

4.      Rural fiction is a popular genre, can you name three characteristics you think make a successful rural fiction book?

Great settings- What’s a rural book without wonderful landscapes (and wildlife). You need the dirt, the sky and the air in detail.

Characters- Some of the kooky old battlers can make a book. Sometimes it’s the hard physical struggle that can make a man…or so I’m told.

Mother Nature or the weather.-  Rural life revolves around this, and she’s unpredictable which makes for great, believable storylines.

 

5.      Do you write detailed character profiles before starting a new book, or do you find the characters come to life as you write?

I like to find some pictures of my characters so I’ve got something to physically look at. In my mind I’ve already started to detail them a bit and the rest comes as I write. So it’s a bit of both really.

 I had one character who I’d thought would be outgoing and fun but as I wrote this new section all of a sudden he’d decided to do something hilariously out there. Almost pushing it too far. But that really showed me the person he really was. If any of that makes sense. Sometimes I only seem to make sense to myself. (Too much talking to my characters. They totally understand me.)

6.      Describe yourself in three words:

Easygoing, punctual, tomboy. (I can wear a dress. I wore one on my wedding day. I just don’t like to as I feel funny. :) )

7.      How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a novel?

Around five to six months, if the research is easy enough (and there are not too many family/life distractions).

8.      Now that your latest book is released, what are you working on next?

I’m working on a story set in the town of Bundara, about the local mechanic Jonelle and the new banker, Daniel who comes to the drought stricken town. I’ve really enjoyed writing this one as it’s a bit close to my heart with a speedway scene and the references to cars. And the town characters are just wonderful. I’ll be finished in the next month and then it will be shipped off to the publishers…fingers crossed they like it too.

Thanks for joining us, Fiona!

Visit Fiona at her website, or on Facebook or Twitter (@fiona_palmer)

To be in the draw to WIN a copy of THE ROAD HOME, simply leave a comment for Fiona below  (open internationally) :)

Winner will be drawn on Monday 2nd April and notified via email, and the winner must respond within one week. Good luck!

Author Spotlight: Margareta Osborn

1. Welcome to the Author Spotlight, Margareta! Can you tell us a little about your debut novel, BELLA’S RUN?

Bella Vermaelon and her best friend Patty are two fun-loving country girls bonded in a sisterhood no blood tie could ever beat.
Now they are coming to the end of a road trip which has taken them from their family farms in the rugged Victorian high country to the red dust of the Queensland outback. For almost a year they have mustered on cattle stations, cooked for weary stockmen, played hard at rodeos and danced through life like a pair of wild tumbleweeds.
And with the arrival of Patty’s brother Will and Bella’s cousin Macca, it seems love is on the horizon too …
Then a devastating tragedy strikes, and Bella’s world is changed forever.
So she runs – from the only life she has ever known. But can she really turn her back on the man she loves? Or on the land that runs deep in her blood.

Bella’s Run is an intoxicating, romantic outback saga about the bonds of friendship, finding love and the place you can call home.

2. Tell us how you came to be published.

I have always wanted to write a novel but it wasn’t until my youngest daughter went to kindergarten that I finally had the time and space to sit down and give it a go. I had spent many years writing for various rural newspapers, journals and so forth, but all in the line of my agricultural extension work.
A published author friend of mine suggested I learn the ‘craft of writing’ concurrently with drafting Bella’s Run. So I headed to Melbourne and studied with the Victorian Writers Centre (six hour round trip once every two months for two years) to do just that.

It must have worked because on the last day of my Advanced Year of the Novel course, I was able to announce the book contract with Random House. It sounds plain sailing when I put it like that, but it wasn’t. There were rejections, tears – many, many tears – but we got there in the end. (I was also picked up by a wonderful agent, which helped enormously as well.)

3. Have you always been a writer? Did you know from a young age that you wanted to write novels?

I was a voracious reader as a child. Through the Billabong series of books by Mary Grant Bruce I fell in love with reading about life on the land. Thereafter I was hooked on books that used rural settings as their context and I always dreamed of someday writing my own rural romantic saga novel. Bella’s Run is a far cry from the Billabong books, but it is the story I wanted to write.

And I guess I should also mention my other childish journalistic exploits. I have a cassette tape where, at the grand age of ten, I was pretending to be an ABC journalist, reporting about life on the Osborn farm. It’s hilarious. Goes something like, ‘With some assistance, cow number 641 delivered a fine heifer calf today. Mother and daughter are doing well. Farmer Osborn is recovering in hospital from a squished arm.’ As they say, only in the country …

4. Rural fiction is a very popular genre, do you have any advice for aspiring rural fiction authors out there?

Write from the heart about what you know and passionately love. What sets you apart from others is your voice and it needs to be unique and authentic.

5. How do you go about creating characters, do they just come to you as you write, or do you write out detailed character profiles?

They just come to me while I’m dreaming up the story and as I write. At times I have a film running somewhere above my forehead where I can ‘see’ the scenes and my fingers race across the keyboard trying to keep up. At other times, my characters are as slow and recalcitrant as a sulky calf; it’s like pulling teeth. But no, to my shame, I have never sat down and written a detailed character profile.

I do make notes on character cards as I write the first draft. This is so I know who’s got what features and who’s related to whom and how they came to be where they are etc, just to remind myself. But all this is worked out as I go. I’m an organic writer, I guess. By the end of the first draft I have told myself the story. I then start all over again and tell my reader the story. That’s when things get serious.

6. Complete this sentence: When I’m not writing, I’m…

Running our small beef property, pelting around after three children, sporadically helping on my family farm, involved in local community organisations like the rural fire brigade, local hall and the children’s school. For spare time, throw in water-skiing, riding motorbikes and trying to find a weekend when we can head up into the mountains and get away from it all.

7. How often do you write? Do you try to follow a daily or weekly word count goal to keep on track with your writing?

I don’t have luxury of deciding when I write. With three children, a husband and a small farm to run, writing is squeezed in. From time to time, I also help my father on his property, so things are always hectic.
If I’m writing to a deadline, I aim for 2000 words each time I sit down at the laptop. I find if I have a goal, it helps me from getting distracted by the washing, the vacuuming, a beautiful day, my dog being an idiot, the cows bellowing for hay, the irrigation water going where it shouldn’t …

8. What are you working on next?
I have just submitted my second rural romantic saga novel to Random House, Australia, and to my delight they love it. Currently called ‘The Cry of the Currawong’, this book will be published in March 2013.

 

 

Visit Margareta at her websitetwitter , or on Facebook (Margareta Osborn).

Author Spotlight & Giveaway! Mandy Magro

1. Welcome Mandy! Congratulations on the release of your first book, Rosalee Station. Can you tell us a little about this book?

Thanks, it’s very exciting knowing my first novel is now on the shelves!

Rosalee Station is about a feisty but loveable woman, Sarah Clarke, and her amazing journey from her family’s fruit farm in Mareeba to the wide open spaces of a cattle station in the heart of Australia. Here, in the outback, she discovers a secret that tears her world apart. Somehow, she finds the strength to stay on at Rosalee Station and the choice to do so will change the course of her life forever. From the thrill of a wild bush rodeo to falling head over heels in love with a sexy cowboy, this novel takes you to places that will sometimes warm your heart and at other times make you laugh out loud. 

2. Do you follow a regular writing schedule? What is a typical day like for you?

My mornings are normally spent running around like a chook with its head cut off. I’m a clean freak so I like to get my home in ship shape, get my little girl settled with her breakfast, and then I sit down and check my emails with a cup of strong tea and a few pieces of toast. After that it’s off outside to let my 2 Staffies out of their kennel, release the chooks from the hen house and do any odd jobs that need completing around the farm. I try and fit in a run on my treadmill but sometimes, most of the time, this doesn’t happen, well like I said I try! One thing I certainly do fit in every day is my half hour meditation, it is pure bliss. I normally only write on Wednesdays and Fridays, when my darling little girl is in day care, as I need the house to be absolutely silent when I write. I look forward to those days, where I can lock myself in my make-shift office and delve into the world of my characters.

3. How long did it take you to write your first novel?

Rosalee Station took me about 6 months to write. I had so many ideas for the storyline that once I started typing I found it hard to stop.

4. Did you always want to become a writer?

 I wish I could answer yes to that question but to be honest I had only seriously considered writing a novel the day I sat down to write Rosalee Station.  I’d had fleeting moments before this where I day dreamed about writing but never really took much notice of the little nudges that my instincts were giving me. What was the deciding factor was the day I turned the last page of Fiona Palmer’s novel, Family Farm, and I realised with despair that I had no more rural novels left to read, I had read them all! Then I had a crazy thought, maybe I could write one myself, especially after all the exciting adventures I have experienced in the outback. So, that is what I did and here I am today, ecstatic that my novel has been published by Penguin.

 

5. Where did you get the inspiration for your first novel, and how do you come up with new ideas for subsequent novels?

The inspiration behind Rosalee Station comes from my personal experiences as a station cook, fruit farmer, helping with the bulls behind the chutes at rodeos and generally living in the country. Sarah, the main character, is a heck of a lot like me, even down to the curly blonde hair. I felt powerfully driven to tell a story about the outback that I had lived and breathed myself. Of course there is a large amount of fiction in the novel but the heart and soul, the essence of the smells, sights and sounds emerged from deep within me and the passion that I have for the Australian outback, I feel, shows through in my writing. As for subsequent novels, I did worry about not being able to come up with ideas as I was editing Rosalee Station, but they did and too many all at once, I found I couldn’t write them down fast enough and had stick it notes everywhere.  I cannot say I really suffer with writer’s block too often, for this I am blessed. I have names and storylines plotted out for another 2 books after Melaleuca Homestead.

6. How important is the setting in your novels, do you find it is like a character in itself?

The setting is extremely important to me. It creates the landscape from where my stories are told and allows the reader to truly get a feel for the characters and their lives. I like to give as much detail as I can, really paint a picture of the surroundings, so the reader feels as though they too are wearing an Akubra, pulling on their boots and mustering wayward cattle.

7. Where do you write, what does your writing space look like?

Well, at the moment my office is in the corner of my bedroom, meh!  I have a book of Australian Slang at the ready for when I am writing, a little ceramic pot full of pens (and everything else you could imagine!), a black and white photo of my Mum and Dad’s wedding day and paperwork neatly stacked into a filing draw on top of the desk which includes ideas and drafts for future books. Drew, Chloe and I live in a little 2 bedroom cottage so until we build our house there is limited room for the computer. When I feel house-bound I will grab the lap top and toddle off outside under a tree to do some writing which can be very inspiring, if I can dodge the blowflies! I dream about the day I’ll have an office with plush carpet underfoot, a whole wall devoted to being a bookshelf and a big leather chair that I can sit comfortably in while I type, oh, and of course a view out of a big bay window of horses and cattle.

8. Apart from writing, what are your hobbies and interests?

 I love to cook, and eat! I really adore it when I get to go to a fresh fruit and vegetable market and then come home with all my goodies and cook a superb meal. I find it relaxing and satisfying.Readingis also high on my list of interests and when I’m not writing I enjoy sticking my nose into a book and letting another author take me into their world, its wonderful!  I also enjoy having days out down in the “big smoke” (Cairns) where I can visit the beach, go to the movies, do some shopping and catch up with family and friends over a yummy vanilla latte.

9. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers out there?

Don’t ever give up on your dream of writing. Remember, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. Breathe your writing, live it, love it. Write as much and as often as you can, even if it feels like you are babbling at the time. It will put your creative ideas in motion. This in turn will drive you to write more, to feel the passion of your unique craft. Be true, write about things that you have experienced and really mean something to you as this will be what appeals to your readers. Reach out to other authors, most of them will be happy to answer any questions you have. Surf the net; it will connect you with people who will support you, especially for those of us in remote areas. Read read read! Others writer’s works will inspire you. Never give up, be brave, be driven, be fearless, believe in yourself-you can do it!

10. If you could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything for 24 hours, what would it be?

Firstly, I would love to be a world class bull rider and feel what it’s like to make the 8 seconds on a one tonne bucking bull. It would be a massive adrenaline rush! Secondly, I would love to go to an enchanted tropicalIsland, get a massage, pull up a sunlounge and read a book whilst sipping on exotic cocktails all day long. Can I be cheeky and ask for more than 24 hours!

11. What’s the next project you’re working on, and how many other manuscripts do you have in the pipeline?

My second novel, Jacaranda, is in the hands of my wonderful publisher at Penguin, awaiting editing. At the moment I am in the process of writing my third novel, Melaleuca Homestead. It’s a story of hope, devastation, loss, triumph, the will to live and the power of love carrying you through a time in your life when you didn’t think you were going to make it. All set in the wonderful Australian countryside of course! I have ideas for my next two novels running amok in my mind so there are still plenty more stories to be told.

12. Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

At my website, http://mandymagro.com

**To WIN a signed copy of Mandy’s novel Rosalee Station, please answer this question by commenting below: ‘What do you like about books set in rural Australia?’

*Competition closes Monday 6th June.

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