By Ashleigh Fielding
FIONA Palmer’s delicious rural romances and mesmerising descriptions of red dirt tracks and country sunsets could make any city person want to move to the bush.
Born and bred 300km north-east of Albany in the remote town of Pingaring, Palmer spent most of her early life speedway driving, tractor riding, rouseabouting and doing secretarial work.
Her heart fell for fiction writing after a story idea in 2006 resulted in her first book The Family Farm.
After eight successful rural romance novels, Palmer is excited to come to Albany to launch her new book, Secrets Between Friends, at Three Anchors on September 9.
Palmer spoke to the Weekender and revealed a bit about the novel, dealing with isolated living and her inspirations during an incredible career.
“Secrets is a story of three best friends going on a boat cruise to Albany as a ten-year reunion of their friendship,” Palmer said.
“On the boat, many of their secrets are revealed, even ones they have kept from themselves.
“It is a time to open up, face their secrets and fears, and find out what they really want from life.”
Palmer didn’t have to think twice when deciding on Albany as the stopover point for the novel’s cruise ship, after a trip with her author friend Rachael Johns.
“We went on a boat cruise and oh, those cocktails!
“The history in Albany and its beauty caught me, and I thought Secrets would be a fabulous way to combine them both.
“Albany was my number one place for the stopover point because of my history staying there with my grandparents over the holidays, and I wanted to include the new ANZAC memorial centre.”
Palmer is currently working on her next book, The Piano Tuner.
“I’m nearly halfway through The Piano Tuner, but this title may change yet as it’s still early days.
“It follows the story of William, who was a piano tuner in the mid 1970s, as well as his family in current day.
“Hopefully I’m on the right track and when I finish it and send it to the publisher, they like it!”
In spite of housework, kids, sport, work on the farm, marketing and procrastination, Palmer’s passion for writing is strong as ever.
“I try to aim for 10,000 words a week when I begin writing a book.
“Usually it’s crammed in between seeding and harvest, so I have about 3 to 4 months to get the first draft down.
“Sometimes when I’m close to a deadline I’ll stay up late and write, as I find this is the most productive time with no distractions!
“But I have to be mindful of family, I can’t write every night.
“It’s a constant juggling act.”
Despite living in the middle of ‘whoop whoop’ with poor internet slowing down her research, Palmer’s love for her remote, isolated, rural town and life inspired her career.
“I never had ambitions of being a writer, especially as English was one of my worst subjects and I left school early,” Palmer revealed.
“At the busiest time of my life, running a general store in Pingaring with two babies, I began writing down this story that popped into my mind.
“It began as a form of escapism and before I knew it, I had a story.
“I feel very lucky being an author and being where I am today.
“It’s something I never dreamed of; I wasn’t aware this profession was even possible!
“But now, I couldn’t imagine life any other way.” Palmer said the best advice she can offer aspiring authors is to just get the words down.
“Just write. Don’t think about it; do it.
“I put words on the page without any idea how it was supposed to be done, but it can be all fixed and sorted later.
“You can’t edit a blank page.”
Tickets to Fiona Palmer’s Secrets Between Friends book launch at Three Anchors can be purchased at Paperbarks Merchants or online at paperbarks. com.au