About the author:
Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker - an ideal career path for an author who writes novels about family and relationships. A recipient of the prestigious USA RITA award and the Australian RUBY award, Fiona's books are set in small country towns, feature real people facing difficult choices and explore how family ties and relationships impact our decisions. Fiona spent her early years in Papua New Guinea where, without television, reading was her best form of entertainment - inevitably leading to a livelong love of books. Fiona lives in Geelong, Victoria.
So let's get started and find out a little more about Fiona and her writing.
Hello Fiona, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how many books you have had published?
Thanks for having me. I’ve changed writing directions three times over a decade. I have written 23 short medical romances, 6 full length romances and three big, juicy Australian-set sagas. HOME FIRES is my 32nd novel. Hmm, thanks for making me count. I’ve been telling people it’s my 31st!
What inspires you to write?
People and places. I love the Australian bush and I’m an inveterate people watcher so I enjoy combining the two. I like exploring what makes people tick and why they react the way they do in different situations. As an author, I tend to put my characters through the wringer to squeeze out as much emotion as I can and I force people to make decisions when there is no clear moral choice and then deal with the fall out.
What is a typical writing day for you?
I tend to structure my week more than my day. Basically, I write every day but I also get out of the house a couple of times in the week, into the real world, where I talk to people. So, Tuesdays after tennis and Wednesdays after delivering meals on wheels, I start work around noon. Those are not great concentration writing days but without them, I’d be a hermit and that’s not healthy. Mondays, Thursday and Friday, I go to the gym and start writing around 8.30 and finish at 6pm and there’s a bit of admin in there like writing interviews like this and a little bit of playing on social media. Okay, sometimes there is far too much playing on social media and researching. I’m now writing with a timer! The last couple of months before deadline, I also work Saturday and Sunday mornings until 1pm. Then I pretend the afternoon is a full day. Of course, I do have holidays and when a book comes out, I’m on the road promoting it, but I find I can’t go and play in the morning and have a good writing day. I am my most creative first thing in the morning and strangely between 4-6pm.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I need silence to write so I write in my office wearing noise cancelling head phones.
Do you have any writing rituals or good luck charms?
Hmm, is checking Goodreads and Amazon rankings a ritual? They are definitely not good luck charms ;-)
What are you currently reading?
Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales
You are well known for your Contemporary Romance novels. What inspired your move to the General Fiction genre?
A few things happened at once. I had a book come out in the USA during a major publishing house reshuffle where my editor left and my book really didn’t get out of the warehouse. The whys and wherefores don’t count, it’s just numbers, so when I didn’t sell many books, they were not interested in me writing another one for them. Although I’d lived in the US and enjoyed setting books there, I had an overwhelming desire to write a book not only set in Australia, but in my own back yard. I also had an itch to break away from the absolute happy ending, which is a must in a romance and I wanted to write a bigger novel with more characters and explore human nature—the good, the bad and the ugly. So, I wrote Daughter of Mine, then Birthright and now Home Fires.
Your latest book Home Fires is released today, 18th February. How did you come up with the idea for Home Fires?
I think it’s been brewing all my life. Bush fires are such an integral part of life as a Victorian and I have had a few pivotal moments where fire has impacted on me. First as a student nurse where I was in the field on Ash Wednesday, followed by working on the burns unit nursing victims. Those experiences never leave you. Years later, as a mother on Black Saturday, I experienced different sort of stress. But the final push to write Home Fires was Christmas Day 2015, when just down the road from me, friends and acquaintances had to stand up and walk away from Christmas lunch to save their lives.
What would you like readers to get out of Home Fires?
I’d like readers to reflect on the long-term damaging effects of trauma after natural disasters and how it isn’t so much a community rebuilding, but finding a whole new way to live. It takes years, far more years then we imagine, for communities to regain their health. The communities also need income to grow so visit and holiday in the area as soon as possible and spend some money there. Every cent counts. And don’t worry, I promise Home Fires has a hopeful ending.
What's next for Fiona Lowe? Do you have a new WIP?
I’m currently working on my 2020 release. The working title is NOT THAT KIND OF WOMAN and it’s shaping up to be another large novel about women, friendship and living with the choices we make.
Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.
It’s been great. Thanks for having me!
You can connect with Fiona at the following sites:
Home Fires is out today and should be hitting bookshops shelves all of the country.
From the bestselling Australian author of Daughter of Mine and Birthright. When a lethal bushfire tore through Myrtle, nestled in Victoria's breathtaking Otway Ranges, the town's buildings - and the lives of its residents - were left as smouldering ash. For three women in particular, the fire fractured their lives and their relationships.
Eighteen months later, with the flurry of national attention long past, Myrtle stands restored, shiny and new. But is the outside polish just a veneer? Community stalwart Julie thinks tourism could bring back some financial stability to their little corner of the world and soon prods Claire, Bec and Sophie into joining her group. But the scar tissue of trauma runs deep, and as each woman exposes her secrets and faces the damage that day wrought, a shocking truth will emerge that will shake the town to its newly rebuilt foundations...