Fiona McArthur, author of The Homestead Girls, answers Six Sharp Questions

by |June 24, 2015

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fiona McArthur

author of The Homestead Girls

Six Sharp Questions


1.    Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does this book mean to you?

Five women, a sheep station in drought and the 22-year-old granddaughter’s last ditch measure to keep the farm after her grandad is seriously injured. A flying doctor, a flight nurse, an 80-year-old ex-bush nurse and 16-year-old diva meld into The Homestead Girls and become a family in the harshness of a desolately beautiful landscape.

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

We’re talking books and writing here –right?
So the best had to be seeing Red Sand Sunrise up on the shelves and selling well. Crazy fabulous reviews, people telling me that was just how it was, and the fun of getting out there to research in an area I knew too little about.

My worst is nothing compared to some people. I’m just happy to be here.

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.

It was raining in Adelaide, they’d called off the cricket, and that was only four hours away. It looked promising all day but the dry electrical storms set everyone’s teeth on edge.

An hour and half across the boarder they had a deluge. None at Blue Hills. The heat increased the pall of anxiety in the homestead and the air palpated with tension.

Soretta chewed her nails as she watched the sky because the house water tank was almost empty. Lachlan had gone into town to order another tank just in case the heavens opened and Klaus had started up the old bulldozer and scraped the empty dam another few feet deeper in case they had a downpour they could capture.

Billie had offered to pay the water carrier to bring a load for the house, but it wasn’t just the house that needed water. Soretta was praying the water table they were using from the bores to keep the stock alive would hold up. Everyone felt it so close to rain that the waiting was torture, made worse by hearing of rain everywhere else. It had passed them by before.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

red-sand-sunrise4.    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…

I write when everyone else is asleep. So I get up at 4am to write before I get ready for work at 6. Nobody talks to me then. Please don’t talk to me when I’m writing. On writing-at-home days I’m vague, my eyes are constantly flicking from place to place as my brain lives in two worlds. My husband just shakes his head. I guess that would be interesting to live with – or not.

5.   Some writer’s claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

I love writing stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. It’s my theme. The upsurge of  interest in rural romance and rural comtempory fiction allowed me to write my medical version of the big books I put off writing. Current marketplace is an incredibly exciting time for someone like me so it influenced me to take a gamble, stop my three small books a year of steady income, and write one big book. Great satisfaction in that.

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?tomorrow-when-the-war-began

Tomorrow When The War Began. Because I want them to actually read and if they are ill-educated they probably need to be enticed into falling in love with reading. The Tomorrow series started one of my son’s reading.

Harry Potter for the same reason. And Harry was out of his comfort zone and had to make friends.

The Old Man and The Sea – because simple can be incredible.

Pride and Prejudice – because we don’t need that much civilising and other people had to do it harder.

Kings In Grass Castles – because some people did it really tough and we need to honour them. I think of the women in this book.

Fiona, thanks for playing!

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls

The Homestead Girls

by Fiona McArthur

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and in desperation has opened her station house to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.

The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .

About the Author

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places.

Click here to grab a copy of The Homestead Girls


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