Today on the blog, Australian author and midwife Fiona McArthur stops by to chat about how her midwifery background has influenced her storytelling. My review for The Homestead Girls was posted here yesterday.
Hi Lauren, lovely to be here on The Australian Bookshelf to celebrate the release of The Homestead Girls. You asked me ‘how my midwifery practice has influenced my storylines.’
The short answer is it took me a long time to realise that my midwifery and telling the stories of inspiring women, births and midwives was my mission in life.
The longer story is that when I first began writing with a view to being published, I wrote what I thought the publisher wanted. So, the standard Mills and Boon short romance with a boss and a secretary that I’d read. Not surprisingly, it didn’t ring true (because I’ve never been a secretary) and it sounded stilted even to me. I’ve been a nurse (and then a midwife) since I was seventeen. Not surprisingly, I never finished that book.
I tried a couple more secretary books, but then moved a little closer to the hospital and tried a dietician and a doctor. Again, not my forte, and my characters remained ‘adequate’. Didn’t finish that one either. My newly learnt lesson – if the author is bored it’s a bad sign!
Then I wrote a student nurse manuscript – getting closer – but another three chapters and a rejection and no real growth in my writing.
Thankfully I was having yearly doses of enthusiasm at the Romance Writers of Australia conferences, or I would have given up years ago. After the one in 1998, I started a book with a midwife as heroine, threw in all the complimentary therapies that were just taking off in my hospital in the mid ‘90s that I dreamed about implementing, added a doctor who hated them for personal reasons, and started to live the story. I finally wasn’t bored.
I made finalist in the first chapter competition, then three chapters, but this time I listened to beautiful, wiser heads and finished the book. I sat on it for a month, then polished the story, and packaged it up, paid my $30 postage, and sent the book to London. That story was Delivering Love, first published in 2001, and has just been re-released (ouch). I would have loved to have gone through it and updated it but I’m not complaining. I wrote it with sincerity. It’s actually fascinating to see the changes in society through my eyes when I was fifteen years younger and I even had a review recently that said “the author obviously knows nothing about midwifery”. LOL
Which brings us to 35 medical romance books and, I hope, writing growth later, to writing Contemporary Rural Medical for Penguin. My first book for Penguin was Red Sand Sunrise and the feeling I had when I wrote that book was like parachuting. It billowed out catching my breath, and I loved the women, the drama of birth, the outback landscape and the scope of writing about more than two people. Though, as in real life, there will always be a love interest for someone, it’s just not my focus.
The Homestead Girls is another step on the journey of sharing my absolute awe, admiration and faith in women and the overall goodness of people. Of course, somewhere in the story, we have a birth. So yes, my midwifery has not only influenced my storylines, but the people I’ve met through my profession have made a huge impact in my life and I feel very fortunate.
Have a fabulous week, everyone.
Warmest regards Fi
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 new 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 in desperation has opened her station house 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 eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.
The unlikely housemates are cautious 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 . . .