Midwifery educator and author Fiona McArthur talks about her writing, outback settings and romance.
Does your writing help with the way you interact with your patients and do you find yourself being inspired by them?
Lovely question. I certainly do draw my passion for portraying strong women in my books from women who birth – because they are a constant source of new inspiration. It’s that whole, Them: ‘I can’t do it.’ Me: ‘Yes you can.’ Them: ‘Okay.’ Me: ‘Look what you did!’ Women at their most powerful.
You’ve written over 30 romances. How do you bring a different touch of romance to the individual storylines?
I don’t actually try to add the romance. The characters are always so different to me, they fall in love with each other, and I just write what they tell me to write. But I guess there are certain traits my heroes have to have for me to fall in love with them as well.
Do you have a favourite character in Red Sand Sunrise?
I find that question hard. It’s a bit like asking a mother who is her favourite child. I guess I have the biggest soft spot for Eve, because she’s a softie, but then she probably doesn’t need my extra worrying because she turned out so strong. Then again, Blanche cracked me up, because she was so tough, and ballsy, and trampled on people’s feelings which I spend my life trying not to do.
The environment plays an important part in your latest novel. How do ensure
the readers get a true sense and feel of what you are describing?
The setting is another character in the book. I couldn’t have written that book without my husband and I spending some time absorbing the vastness, the colours and the amazing people who live hours from their nearest neighbour. The terrain and landscapes outback are incredible and deserve to be important. I really hope Red Sand Sunrise suggests to people who have never been – let’s see what’s outback. The land is a treasure you don’t expect.
Where did the genesis for Red Sand Sunrise come from?
I’m a midwifery educator, and to keep up to date I need to network and learn about what other midwives are doing. At one of our annual state conferences I heard about a midwifery group practice that had set up in a far west town and the idea grew from there. And there had been a slight increase of stillborn babies at a hospital I knew of which was addressed by following up simple testing during pregnancy to rule out unobtrusive maternal infections that could affect babies.
Did you find the editing process difficult or easy?
Easy. But then I’ve been fortunate to have fabulous editors who seem to connect with my writing. I know how lucky I am. I’ve grown to love editing, especially in a longer book, because that’s where I really get to revel in the people of the book. It’s where they add conversations that make me laugh when I don’t expect them to.
How did you go about selecting the cover for Red Sand Sunrise?
I sent in a heap of photos, we talked about what we wanted, especially about the sand hills and the concept of the sand stayed. I love the ambulance but can’t take credit for thinking of it. Though it is pivotal in the book.
What do you look for in a cover to entice you to turn the first page?
A big WHY or WHERE or WHO? A cover that says, why is that ambulance speeding across that red sand? Works for me.
Have you always been a natural writer or have had to work hard at honing your craft?
When I decided to be a professional writer – as in I wanted to get paid for my writing, I made a learning contract at my local TAFE to polish my grammar skills and did a distance education module when I didn’t know what sort of writing I wanted to do. Apart from that I attend Romance Writers Of Australia every year and RWAmerica once every three years and I lean something every single time. Otherwise I have a vague idea of where I’m going, sometimes not even that, then find that first scene and write the book. Sometime the ride is smoother than other. Red Sand Sunrise was an awesome ride.
What books do you enjoy reading? Favourite author?
Now? Mystery: Dick Francis and Dan Brown, historical: Anne Gracie and Eloisa James. romance: Kristin Higgins (just discovered) and Kelly Hunter. Category – Marion Lennox and Carol Marinelli but so many I don’t like putting just two.
What advice can you pass on to new writers?
Same as for new mums. Believe in yourself. You can do this. And be professional.
Can three sisters save the outback town they’ve grown to love? When the father she barely knew dies suddenly, midwife Eve Wilson decides she owes it to him to go the funeral and meet her stepfamily in Red Sand. She doesn’t expect to be so completely charmed by the beautiful remote township in far west Queensland – or by local station owner, Lex McKay.
After disappointment and heartbreak in Sydney, Dr Callie Wilson decides it might be time to move home to spend some time with her grieving mother. When she is approached to oversee the establishment of the area’s first medical clinic, it seems the perfect opportunity. And Callie is keen to involve Eve, the sister she’s just getting to know.
Melbourne-based obstetrician Sienna Wilson can’t understand why anyone would want to bury themselves in the outback, but when her hospital sends her north to research the medical mystery affecting women in Red Sand, it seems fate is intent on bringing the three sisters together. And when disaster strikes, they must each decide if being true to themselves means being there for each other…
Red Sand Sunrise is a romantic, heartfelt story from an internationally bestselling author. It celebrates the strength of family ties, the renewing power of love, and the passion of ordinary people achieving extraordinary things.
Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for twenty-five years. She is a clinical midwifery educator and has written more than thirty romances. The mother of five sons lives in northern New South Wales.