Victorian writer, Fiona Lowe, has always told stories in her head, but it wasn’t until she was given a Mills and Boon medical romance for her thirtieth birthday that she decided to write a book of her own. Her experience as a midwife, community health nurse and sexual health counsellor provide ongoing inspiration, with Fiona doing most of her writing under the watchful gaze of her ginger feline friend, Pekoe. Her hobbies include tennis, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, coordinating a book group and enjoying live theatre in all its glory – from amateur to fringe through to professional.
Home Fires is Fiona’s thirty-first novel and follows the story of several families in the aftermath of a deadly bushfire. Although many of the facilities in the fictional town of Myrtle have been rebuilt, the fires still have a stronghold on the residents. The four main characters – Julie, Claire, Bec and Sophie- have all lost something or someone dear to them. The storyline flashes between BF and AF (before the fire and after the fire) revealing the secrets, tensions and impacts of unresolved grief that lurk just beneath the surface of their carefully maintained facades. Fiona has a knack for weaving beautiful backstories into her writing to create realistic settings, relatable characters and strong sub-plots. Having previously coordinated a fun run, I particularly enjoyed the little side story where the ‘Stitch Bitches’ band together and create their own grassroots running event. I love how Fiona holds up a mirror to the way women instinctively shelve their own worries and fears to protect their families and maintain appearances, even when their worlds are crumbling. I also liked the social issues she raised, like mental health, domestic violence, manipulation and the importance of strong networks and friends in overcoming hard times. Released by Harlequin on February 28, Home Fires is set in Victoria’s Otway Ranges.
Short and sweet questions
Current book on your bedside table: Only one?!? The top one is THE CLOCK MAKER’S DAUGHTER by Kate Morton.
Where do you do most of your writing? In my office, although the cat thinks the space is hers.
Favourite Australian holiday destination: Wilson’s Promontory National Park.
What’s your preferred drop? Bubbles!
Guilty pleasure? Again, only one?!? Um, salt and vinegar chips.
Pet peeve: Loud music.
Favourite fictional couple and why? I am torn! Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy but also Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. They’re probably my faves because I was a teenager when I read the books.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? A SAT phone so I could get off the island! Plenty of books and a hammock while I waited to be rescued.
Name an emerging author to keep an eye out for: Maya Linnell (Note from Maya – Blushing here, Fiona. What a lovely compliment!).
Established authors who inspire you? Kate Morton, Melissa Lucashenko, Kylie Ladd, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and George Eliot and a myriad of others.
Best thing about being a writer? Flexible working hours.
Worst thing about being a writer? Flexible working hours. They are a blessing and a curse. I work longer hours now than I did when I was nursing and I no longer have complete weekends off. The work is ALWAYS in my head. Oh, and when I finished HOME FIRES I realised I had to remove an entire plotline … so not fun as it impacted almost every one of the 490 pages!
Do you prefer music, podcasts or silence when writing? Silence! Absolute silence, which means I write in noise cancelling headphones. See pet peeve of loud music…
Favourite perfume: I seem to have a decade dedicated to a perfume and currently it’s Giorgio Armani’s Acqua do Gioia
TV/film crush: The two Ryans.
The best non-writing related prize I won was… Second prize at the agricultural show for my Christmas cake!
Top three tips for aspiring authors? Write every day—well at least five times a week. Five hundred words are enough if you’re working another job or wrangling children. Do it at lunch or during nap time or get up forty-five minutes before the household. Edit your work so it’s clean and hangs together then read it again after a break. Submit it, so it gets out in the world with a chance for publication.
What theme do you hope shines through in your writing? Real people facing real issues and the hope that comes from finding ways to move forward.
Proudest author moment? Winning a Romance Writers of America RITA award in 2012, although it’s almost matched by writing, DAUGHTER OF MINE, my first 500-page novel.
Three Fun Facts about Fiona: I’ve lived in PNG, Canada and the USA. I learned how to tap dance one number when I was in a production of Dinkum Assorted. Once, during deadline hell I put “lip balm” on that turned out to be Vegemite…
Follow Fiona on social media and online:
Rural fiction writer Maya Linnell honed her journalism skills at a country newspaper before moving to PR and now fiction. Her debut rural romance novel – Wildflower Ridge – will be published by Allen and Unwin in June 2019 and she is hard at work on the sequel. A voracious reader, Maya also loves baking, gardening, preserving home-grown fruit and veggies, and raising three little bookworms. She lives on a small country coastal property in regional Victoria with her family and a growing menagerie of animals, gathering inspiration from her rural surrounds and the close-knit communities within.
Follow Maya online