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Win a copy of best-selling author Fleur McDonald’s latest novel
The Australian author and farmer tells all about how her life on the land has influenced her work ahead of a visit to Murray Bridge.
Australian author Fleur McDonald is hitting the road to celebrate the release of her 20th novel, Broad River Station, this month.
Fortunately, Murray Bridge will be one of her stops.
Her latest book focuses on a newly appointed constable, Mia, and the trials she faces in her new role in her hometown – among a whole host of personal and professional adventures, of course.
McDonald’s life has put her in a unique position as a writer.
Having worked on the land since she was 18, and still living and working on a farm to this day, she has created countless stories and personalities that are authentic to a rural setting.
In the lead-up to her visit to Murray Bridge Library – at 10am next Monday – Murray Bridge News was lucky enough to chat with her about her latest release, life on the land and more.
She was even kind enough to give us a copy of her book to give away – read on to find out how to get your hands on it.
How has your life on the farm influenced your work?
I’m still farming, I now farm by myself. I’ve worked and managed the land since I was 18, when I left school. It’s as setting I know very well. Rural literature is a very popular genre. When I first read Rachael Treasure’s Jillaroo, I realised I was in a good spot to write that genre. I’ve lived and breathed that life. So my work life has certainly influenced where I set my books, but none of the crimes have happened on my farm, although some have happened on other people’s farms.
A lot of your books revolve around salt-of-the-earth characters who live in regional areas. What was this decision based upon?
My April books are based on Detective Dave Burrows, and they can be set anywhere. But my November books are contemporary rural fiction. I love to showcase the land, especially the land up in the Flinders which is older. I think it’s the most beautiful spot in the world. I also write about the places I’ve been, as I’ve travelled a fair bit. It gives the story authenticity, which you need in a book.
And I have a lot of men reading my books as well as women, because of the crime element. Shows on TV like Farmer Wants a Wife really romanticise the industry, but that’s not how it is. In my books, I give readers the hard nuts and bolts of what life on the land is like.
Several of your books have recurring characters, like detective Dave Burrows and journalist Zara Ellison. Is there something satisfying about returning the same characters time and again?
You get to know them really well, and they’re not as difficult to write about. You know how they’ll react to certain situations. My four recurring characters – Dave, Zara and their partners, Jack and Kim – are only minor characters, but they form the core of my November books.
Why do you think it’s important that women read books with strong female leads?
Women are nowhere near as invisible as we used to be. It’s nice to celebrate women, especially in a male dominant industry (agriculture), which I’ve worked in all my life. Not a lot of programs or stories on TV show that promotion of women in the lead role in an agricultural setting. It’s been a privilege to be able to do that. But I’ve also noticed that in recent years, the industry is changing. In the new generation coming through, girls are lot more willing to mix with the guys, and the guys are more accepting of the girls.
You release two books a year. How do you come up with so many ideas?
It could be a snippet of a conversation, or a news article, or a tiny … and I’ll have a light bulb moment. Then I’ll ask myself a series of what-ifs. For example, with my latest book, Mia is a new minted constable who move back to her hometown. The questions were “how will she be treated as someone who used to live in the area?”, “how will she be treated as a woman in authority?”, “which locals will remember her?” And then all the consequences that come from that help form the story. I have a detective friend in Perth who helps me with ideas and reads all my writing before it goes out; he’s a really important part of the process.
Congratulations for reaching your 20th novel. Can readers expect something that will set this book apart from the rest?
The interesting thing is that there is a female police officer for the first time, rather than a farmer. Mia fits in really well with the journey throughout. There is always a strong farming link in my books but this time the focus is on a farmer with an organic crop.
Do you enjoy touring in regional areas for your books?
The country is where I grew up, its where I love to be. And I believe everyone deserves access to authors, whether it’s me or somebody else. The community is great at getting involved, there is a good back and forth when you’re talking to people in the country. I’ll be covering around 8000 kilometres, and I’ll be visiting 25 places in around 12 days, in SA, Victoria, New South Wales. A lot of the locations are regional. It’s been two and a half years since I toured, so I can’t wait to be back.
RSVP for Fleur McDonald’s author talk at Murray Bridge Library: Call 8539 1175 or speak with library staff.
Win a copy of Broad River Station
Murray Bridge News is giving paying subscribers the opportunity to win a copy of Fleur McDonald’s latest book, Broad River Station.
To be in the running, tell us in the comments below, in 25 words or less: What is your favourite rural book, film, TV show, song or poem, and why?
A winner will be drawn at 12pm this Friday, November 4 and notified by email.
Disclosure: The author was also gifted a copy of the book in preparation for writing this post.
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