Fiona McArthur opens up about family and writing.
Mother of five boys… I take my hat off to you!
Thanks so much. It’s great to have The Homestead Girls coming out and to be here.
What are some of the challenges you have found with raising five young men?
You mean apart from the fact that you need a house with a lot of doors so the boy being chased by another boy can get away? Juggling different personalities, dealing with temper and keeping things even so someone else doesn’t get more. I should have nipped that early in the bud, afraid I blew that one, so it was a real cross to bear if someone else accidently got more drink, or food, or whatever. Christmas presents at Christmas – that was a real challenge. They all want to be special and they are – but ‘deal with life isn’t fair’ guys.
What have been the most rewarding moments?
There’s been lots of rewarding moments but the most rewarding moment is seeing your boy/s really happy. And when they are all happy together it makes me beam. With five of them there is always someone in crisis. Christmas mornings, when everyone is smiling, or a family barbeque, now with grandchildren and little families and all of the boys and my husband smiling, that’s fabulous.
What advice can you give to mums of boys when it comes to parenting?
Apart from nipping that everyone gets equal, thing. Seriously, I can pour five glasses within a ml of each other. Well, it’s been wild and fun and loud and absolutely steeped in sports. You can say what you like about the effort of getting children ready for sports, running them back and forwards, often for games on at the same times and opposite ends of the same field (same field is good!) but I’d have to say finding alternate places to direct testosterone is the secret. Of course that’s built in if you have a working farm or business where everyone needs to pitch in, but we both worked shift work, and the boys need to learn to be a part of a team, not sweating the small stuff, cheering for the efforts of someone else as well as getting cheered at.
When it comes to writing, what do you draw from real life experiences? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Through people I meet. Ordinary people, and my midwifery, though not the actual births, but facets of each birth, each incredible mother, incredible midwives, and my husband’s wicked sense of humour and our bantering relationship.
Do the personalities of your family members appear in your books?
That’s funny, I don’t think as far as the boys go. I hadn’t thought about that before. I went through a period there where all my heroes in a row had one of the boy’s names, which was fun. But my husband is the hero I draw from, or the character qualities my heroines deserve if they find a partner for life. Honest, strong chest to lean on, yet gentle and romantic and makes me laugh.
How did you find yourself writing in this genre of women’s fiction?
Like nursing really. I fell into it. Must have been meant. It met the need for taking hold of my life and directing it my way. Gave me choices I wanted. It took me ten years but eventually my writing gave me my own income, my ability to pursue my dreams without impacting on the family budget. And my commitment to writing has grown to inspire me. I don’t feel whole unless I’m doing something with it. Like my midwifery has grown over the years and the two go together even if it’s only a glimpse of one in the other.
Your have a vast amount of medical knowledge from your own work experience. Do you find this helps with your writing, or do you find you need to research more about certain topics?
The stuff I know makes it really easy to write a scene, and I get lost in it, yet I’ve never tried to recreate a situation that really happened – I imagine that would be really constraining as you tried to keep it true, and the characters in my head would always react differently to real people – either better or worse – but differently because they are different people. The stuff I don’t know is an opportunity to learn and yes, I research, or find someone just as passionate about their topic, to share with me. Love learning new things. I wrote a live donor kidney transplant book once and learnt heaps.
What is your favourite time of day when living in rural Australia?
I’m smiling here. If anyone looked at my webpage or Facebook page they’d know – it’s sunset. I LOVE the colours and the cloud formations of sunset.
What do you find is the more powerful attribute of women around the world?
Their inner strength. That’s an easy one. Women are so intrinsically strong. An act of nature because we have to do incredible things. If it’s not birthing a baby, it’s birthing change and creating change for the better. That strength and power and determination has to go somewhere.
Do you believe the voice of women is as strong as it needs to be or could we be stronger?
It’s strong, getting stronger, and the movement of women into positions of power will allow it to be heard. No doubts there.
What are you reading at the moment?
Funny, asking that after the last question. Just read Kelly Hunter’s new Tule book, Pursued by the Rogue. Not sure the title is perfect, but loved that the heroine ran her own research company, was totally self-sufficient and the man who wanted her had to put his pretty impressive lifestyle on the line, to be a part of her life. That wouldn’t have happened in a romance novel when I first started reading them.
What is next for Fiona McArthur?
More fiction for Penguin, I can see myself growing old telling stories about strong women. I seriously love it. More non-fiction, also telling stories about real women – and that’s a new love. And my smaller stories of romance and laughter and midwives. Because I love that too.
Before I leave, I’d just like to say I LOVE the questions. So easy to answer from the heart. xxFi
Moving to the outback to join the Flying Doctors will change Billie’s life forever.
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 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 has opened her station homestead 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 80-year old, Lorna Lamerton.
The unlikely housemates are tentative 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 …
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.