Fleur McDonald, author of Red Dust, Blue Skies and now, Purple Roads, answers Six Sharp Questions

by |March 25, 2012

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fleur McDonald

author of Red Dust, Blue Skies and now, Purple Roads,

and Booktopia Twitter Buddy

Six Sharp Questions


1.    Congratulations, you’ve a new book, Purple Roads – what is it about and what does this book mean to you?

Actually this book is quite special. I grew up around trucks – my dad was a pioneer in the trucking industry and I wanted to honour him in some way. There are very small parts of my Dad in this book; the way Jimmy cares for his staff is one of them.

I was so excited when I started Purple Roads and I’m really proud of it.

Purple Roads is the story of a young couple fighting to make it on the farm. Matt is working two jobs – truck driving and farming, until he has a truck accident. On top of that, a large amount of fertiliser is stolen, which means he can’t put his crop in and he loses his last chance with the bank and the farm is forced into a morgagee sale.

From there it focuses on how Matt and Anna cope, the twists and turns life takes and how it is so important to fight for your beliefs and dreams.

It also has an element of how farmers and their families cope, when a someone they love has depression in rural Australia.

Click here to order Purple Roads from Booktopia, Australia’s no.1 Online Book Shop

2.    Time passes. Things change. What would be the best and worst moments you’ve experienced in the past year or so?

2011 was a very trying year for my family. It threw us well out of our comfort zone. I think it is safe to say there were a lot of ‘worst moments’, but they’ve been balanced out by exciting times; getting the edits back, having good rains, seeing stock on green grass (the last few years have been a bit lean, rain wise for us). But the most exciting thing which happened was when my daughter was announced as her sports faction captain at the end of year concert! The smile she had on her was incredible! (GO BLUE!!!!)

3.    Do you have a favourite quote or passage you’d be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

I love quotes! In fact I love quotes so much I wrote a blog on them.

I have to share two with you. The first one is how I try to live my life:

Speak love, live love, be love.

The second one is because I was a witch in a former life… Oh no, wait, that was angel!

‘Women are Angels! When someone breaks our wings, we simply continue to fly on a broomstick. We’re flexible like that!’

There are many more of my favourite quotes here: http://fleurmcdonald.com/whats-you-favourite-quote/

4.    Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life…

When I was a child I wanted to be a lawyer. My cousin is though and she tells me the first thing you learn when you become one is: ‘deny, deny, deny.’ I am denying I am difficult to live with, although request you don’t put this question to my husband! (looks over shoulder to see if he’s reading this!)

I have no routine when it comes to writing. It all revolves around the kids, the farm and whatever is going on in my world at the time. I can go months and not put finger to keyboard. I wouldn’t recommend it and I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is.

5.    Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it, would you please describe how the marketplace effects your writing…

I write because I love it – it’s a release for me to be able to put ideas which have been running around in my head, on paper.  Because of that, marketplace doesn’t come into it. I write for the pure joy of putting words into sentences and them becoming a story.

Although in saying all of that, my main aim is to write quality words. I think people will always buy quality.

6.    Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

So at the risk of getting heavy handed with my love of books… I read recently a beautiful quote which said: “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Eilie Buchwald

Getting kids or young adults involved in reading is about finding something, which interests them. All these books, I’ve chosen, should have a conversation starter, which can lead to thoughts being expressed out loud; dreams being vocalized and recognized. That’s how to get kids reading and books hold all these keys.

A Fortunate Life by AB Facey – everyone needs to know what the older generation went through and most of us have it easy, compared to them.

To Kill a Mockingbird – I studied this when I was in year 10 and I STILL love every word. If I loved it then, there is no reason kids now, shouldn’t love it.

A dictionary – I can’t understand half the text I get sent from sixteen year olds… (and yes I know that makes me sound old!)

Wildflower Hill by Kimberly Freeman  – if they want to know about love, life and beautiful writing, they’ll find it in this book.

The Poet by Michael Connelly – there is everything you ever need here; craft, writing, plot, pace. Love it! (Hope it doesn’t give them ideas though.)

Fleur, thanks for playing!

Visit Booktopia’s Fleur McDonald author page

Click here to order Purple Roads from Booktopia, Australia’s no.1 Online Book Shop

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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