This week, international best-selling Aussie author Fiona McArthur joins me on the blog. In her non-writing life she has worked as a midwife – hence the medical themes that recur in her books. The power and strength in women of all ages is a constant theme in Fiona’s books. To find out more, read on!
Hello Jennifer and readers.
Thanks for this fab series of blogs. There’s so much joy to be had with all the different books from Australian authors. One of the standouts for me is imagining the vast variety of vibrant landscapes described in our rural and outback books and the way each author portrays their connection to the land they write about. I think the scenery is so important that I like to think of that landscape as another character in my books.
The other really exciting part is sharing the strengths, the challenges and the joys of the characters who live in the more remote areas of Australia. I love writing about small rural townspeople, adventures in great outback landscapes, inhabitants of remote islands, and the station owners on far reaches of our great country.
I’ve had the most wonderful time with my outback books and of course there is always a birth, a baby or a medical emergency to be had. Think Call The Midwife meets Country Practice. As a retired midwife I can’t help myself.
So babies or medical emergencies in outback Queensland, Western Queensland, remote New South Wales like Broken Hill, and all that land that stretches away down to Victoria across to Northern Territory and up towards Queensland.
At the moment, I’m writing about the far north, and loving it, but my first book for Penguin was set in a town very similar to Windora in Western Queensland. I called the town and the book Red Sand Sunrise and I can still see in my mind’s eye that huge red sand hill outside the town. I just love that feeling of solitude sitting on top of that rolling sea of beautiful big crystals of bright orange sand at sunrise. I really wanted to share that and other beautiful aspects of Australia in each new setting with my readers.
When I wrote The Homestead Girls and Heart Of The Sky they were set around Broken Hill, in New South Wales. We stayed at a station twenty miles out of town called Mount Gipps Station, which used to be a million acres, and was the original station where the ‘line of load’ that body or ore that was discovered at Broken Hill. Mount Gipps Station holds the most incredible variety of rocks, crystals and stones in rows like skeletal ridges and the paddocks roll away with small scrubby bushes and hidden hollows. There are sandy curves of the creek beds with huge white-trunked gums in the middle and gully’s that close in as you drive down them. It’s an arid but magical place.
The station couple I met there were the epitome of down-to-earth, brave, hard-working, laid-back heroes and were just all-out inspirational with their ability to take the tough times with the good times and turn their hands to anything that needed to be done.
I have this memory of Kym driving off with her dogs on this quad bike up to the sheep yards. She makes me smile just thinking about her. You might have seen her mailbox that I posted to my Homestead Girls Facebook page. I love it so much I actually added it to two books.
Which brings me to my new release, The Desert Midwife. The Mount Gipps mailbox is in there too. Such fun.
The Desert Midwife is set in central Australia. Uluru has a starring role and there’s a hospital in Alice Springs and a medical centre near Uluru to have emergencies in. My heroine, Ava, is part of a long-standing station family whittled down to three generations of women. Ava’s younger brother, Jock, is being destroyed by the drought and his feelings of failure to secure the futures of all the women he loves.
Our hero, fly in fly out Dr Zach, is a widower, who has come to Alice Springs to briefly escape the memories of the prolonged and tragic death of his wife in Sydney and his own guilt as the driver of the car she was so badly injured in.
Zac meets Ava, with instant attraction on both sides. But how can there be any future when he’s definitely a city guy and she is the Desert Midwife? Pop in another nasty car accident, and Zac’s amnesia really puts a hold on their relationship.
The Desert Midwife is about families pulling together in tough times, about the beauty and magic of Uluru which I hope inspires readers who haven’t seen its majesty to venture the distance out there, and about having faith and trust that things will work out if we have the belief. I hope you will pick up the book, lose yourself in the desert, and smile at the end when you put it down. With warmest wishes for happy reading
Discover more about Australasian rural authors at our Australian & NZ Rural Fiction website!