Today I would like to welcome author Fiona Lowe to The Burgeoning Bookshelf
Hello Fiona, Thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you like to do when you are not writing?
Hi! Thanks so much for having me. I’m a distracted wife, a mother of sons—the eldest is about to get married and I have no idea how he got old enough to do that! The youngest is in his final year of university and fingers crossed will soon to be off the family payroll. YAY! I’m also a slave to a cat. I like to knit, read, garden and I am hoping this year to return to travel.
How has the Covid pandemic impacted you as an author, in terms of your writing, motivation and publicity?
The first lockdown occurred at the end of my 2020 book tour and writing wise I was saying that I had worked from home for years so there wasn’t a big change. But fast-forward through two years, six lockdowns, a lack of theatre, travel, meeting friends and new people, it did absolutely impact on my creativity because I wasn’t out and about being challenged. It meant ideas were a bit thin on the ground. I think 2021 was tougher than 2020 in terms of motivation and book touring—I missed meeting readers IRL.
Your contemporary novels are primarily about relationships, family and the challenges women face. What inspired you to write about these topics?
I’m fascinated by what makes people tick and the choices they make. Modern life with its perceived need to be connected online all the time and the often unrealistic expectations society put on women to juggle a career, a relationship and a family throw up many challenges that threaten to sink us. It makes for great book fodder.
Your latest novel, A Family of Strangers, was released on 2nd March; How did you come up with the idea for A Family of Strangers?
All my books look at different social issues inside families and communities. In A Family of Strangers, I wanted to explore the theme of escape. I used three main characters to do this, all with different versions of the theme. With Steph, I looked at the impact of the mental load women carry for the family on top of their job as a mother, partner and their paid job outside the home. How do you keep all the balls in the air and should you? I also throw in a few other challenges into the relationship, but I don’t want to giveaway spoilers. Currently women in Australia are drinking alcohol at unprecedented rates and I wanted to look at how that can unravel a life. Addy is good at her job, but she’s hiding a lot of pain only she knows she carries. With Brenda, I wanted to mine a mother and daughter relationship that is not as rosy as the media and Mothers’ Day TV advertisements want us to believe. Can a mother be forgiven? Can a daughter?
What would you like readers to get out of A Family of Strangers and how do you think it will resonate with them?
Hopefully some readers might decide to join a choir! But seriously, I write characters who face issues familiar to all women. My characters are flawed and make mistakes, but they grow across the book and learn something about themselves and each other. I hope readers will connect to them and perhaps be more empathetic to the real women in their lives as we try to live our best lives with what we have.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing A Family of Strangers?
Bringing three very different women together who would not have normally spent much time together is always a challenge. I decided to use a community choir as a way to do this. When I started writing A Family of Strangers in 2020, there was a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon and we all thought we had the virus on the run. We didn’t, and choirs are still not yet singing so I couldn’t visit a community choir and see it in action. Fortunately, I was able to draw on my sons’ school choir experiences, memories of my own and I interviewed friends who had sung in choirs up until March 2020 and were happy to talk about them as they desperately missed singing.
What are you currently reading?
Still Life by Sarah Winman on audio book and I’m loving it!
What’s next for Fiona Lowe? Do you have a new WIP?
I’m currently writing the 2023 novel, which has the working title of The Money Club. It’s due in at the end of April and as usual I am barely at the two-thirds mark. Yikes! Let’s hope it comes together in a rush!
Just for fun....either or?
Tea or Coffee: Both. Coffee at breakfast and tea the rest of the day.
Summer or Winter: Winter! You can always get warm but you can’t always cool down.
Dog or Cat: I better say cat or Pekoe will get her nose out of joint.
City or Country: Country or rural city to live, but I love a big city visit now and then.
Morning Person or Night owl: Morning. I’m falling asleep in my soup by 9pm.
Paperback or eBook: I’ll read a good book in any format.
Ninjas or Pirates: This is a question I have never been asked before. Arrr! I think pirates.
Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.
Thanks so much for having me!
A Family of Strangers is out now and should be in bookstores all over the country
About the book
How can you know so little about those you love?
coveted promotion dangling within reach, the last thing Addy Topic
needs to do is waste precious time singing in Rookery Cove's choir. But
when she's reminded how much music meant to her late mother, she can't
say no. The building pressure raises the ghosts that sent her running
from Rookery Cove years earlier - memories she's spent decades hiding
from, silencing them with work, alcohol and sex.
Gallagher, Rookery Cove was meant to be a new beginning in the slow
lane. A place where she and her husband can embrace community,
parenthood and evenly share the load. But the sea-change is changing
everything. How much longer can they survive as a family?
Lambeck is finding her feet after the death of her husband when her best
friend convinces her to join the choir. Beloved as a grandmother,
Brenda is determined to mend the fraught relationship she has with her
daughter, Courtney. But is that even possible when she continues to lie?
the wake of a spectacular betrayal, three women are forced to face the
uncompromising truths about the choices that have shaped their
relationships with those they love most. The consequences will shatter
their lives and all they hold dear. After such a disaster is rebuilding