Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three-and-a-half hours south-west of Perth. She discovered Danielle Steele at the age of eleven, and has finally written her own brand of rural romance. She has attended romance writer's groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for this novel. She has extensive farming experience, does the local mail run, and was a speedway-racing driver for seven years. She currently works two days a week at the local shop in between writing her next book and looking after her two small children.
Q: You wrote ‘The Family Farm’ under an ‘Australia Society of Authors’ mentorship with Janet Woods. How did you get the mentorship and what was it like having the council of Ms. Woods?
A: I entered the mentorship along with many others, and it went to a selection panel and luckily, they thought I had something worth working on and I was selected. I think I got 20 free hours and it was great working with Janet as I knew nothing about how a manuscript should be set out. It’s wonderful to be able to work with an experienced author who can guide you and pass on their knowledge. It was invaluable! It was through Janet I found out I had to write another 50,000 for it to be published as a single title.
Q: You started writing ‘The Family Farm’ in 2006. How long did it take you to write – from the kernel of an idea to final manuscript?
A: It took me around three years. I didn’t write that whole time as I was working five days a week (with my baby and two year old) doing long days, so I wrote when I could. While the kids were sleeping or there were no customers at the shop where I worked. You fit it in somewhere! Some times, it would sit for three months before I’d start back up on it. I was mainly writing for the joy of getting my story down.
Q: You were pulled out of the slush pile – how long after you sent your manuscript were you ‘discovered’?
A:Um…I don’t think it was that long. A couple of months, maybe, after I sent the letter before I received an email asking for the full manuscript. It was what I wrote in the letter that got their attention. I said I wrote rural romance similar to Rachael Treasure. Lucky me they were looking for more of that genre.
Q: You write about Izzy attending ‘bin parties’ that are thrown by casual working farmers. In real life, you met your husband at a bin party – did your relationship provide plenty of inspiration for the Will/Izzy romance?
A:Yes and no. It more of a mixture of everything you see and hear along with my own imagination of how I would want it to be.
Q: You were born and raised in Pingaring (Western Australia), which is where your novel is set. How did the locals react to your debut?
A: I think they were quite happy to read about their little town and to try to find themselves in the characters, even though I haven’t based the characters on them. People will read into it what they will.
Q: Have you sold the movie/TV rights to ‘The Family Farm’?
A: No, not yet.
Q: Favourite book of all time?
A: I don’t have one favourite, that’s too hard. I have a few. Rachael Treasures Jillaroo, and I’m stuck on the Vampire Academy series at the moment. I have various tastes.
Q: Favourite author?
A: At the moment, Richelle Mead but ask me again in another month and it could be different.
Q: You have first-hand experience as a farmer, which lends a lot of credibility to the character of Izzy. You’re also a speedway-racer… can we expect your next novel to be set on the racetrack?
A: Well I’ve already got the third book planned but have an idea circling for the fourth to include speedway. It’s not everyones scene but I’m a bit of a petrol head so I’m sure I could bring plenty of passion into it.
Q: What is your next project?
A: The second book, which is still unnamed at the moment, is set in the shearing sheds. I plan to put lots of pictures and video’s of shearing on my website and facebook so those who have never seen it can have an idea what I’m on about. We follow CJ who is a rousie as she learns to shear while falling in love and struggling through life’s tough moments.
Thanks to Fiona Palmer for doing this interview!