Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fiona Palmer - Author Interview Series

Fiona Palmer's latest book Heart of Gold is due for release on Feb 28th.

What authors/books did you read as a child? When did you first discover your love of books?

I really remember getting into books when I was 10 or 11 and the only books my mum had around the house were her Danielle Steele books. I can remember taking Summers End to read at school when we had free time. I guess that’s where my love of romance began and since then everything has to have a touch of romance for me read it, and enjoy it. Then books disappeared through high school and I was married and had kids fairly early so it wasn’t until four years ago I really got back into reading.

When did you first realise you were a writer? What do you hope your readers will take away with them from reading your books?

I guess when I got the first story I wrote contracted to Penguin is when I started to realise it. Before then, I’d never imagined being a writer as English wasn’t my strongest subject and I still struggle to spell and handle my grammar! But I always had plenty of imagination and one day it built up into a story I’d like to read and so I sat down and wrote it. Then I was addicted. I hope my readers will feel the emotions I do when I write my stories. I’d like them to laugh, maybe cry and feel like they are experiencing everything along with my characters. I want them to feel good after reading it, as for me reading is an escape with a happy ending.

Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure? Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?

No, I get so involved in books that for me it’s nearly all for pleasure. If find it hard to get my ‘writers microscope’ to work. I’m someone who wants to sit back and be transported to another ‘world’ and not pick it to bits. I might take some things from certain books but give me a week and I’ve forgotten what those things were!

Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fiction while writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on what you write? In what way?

If I’m trying to write, then most of my time is usually focused on that, its so limited with kids and work I can’t affort to pick up a book - that’s time I could spend writing. But if I do treat myself, (there are those days where my laptop is like poison and I don’t want to go near it) usually I’m reading YA books, which is totally different from ‘rural lit’. Vampire’s and tractors don’t seem to mix.

Name five authors or books that have influenced or inspired your own writing in some way?

I could only think of four!
Danielle Steele – for my love of romance.
Tony Parsons – As his were the first ‘rural’ books I ever read.
Rachael Treasure – After finishing my first manuscript, my aunty gave me her book Jillaroo to read and I knew from that marvellous book that there was a market for my ‘rural’ book.
Richelle Mead – for inspiring me to start writing a YA series. (although not on vampires)

If you were travelling and were told you could only take one book with you, what book would it be and why?

Gee wiz, that’s a hard one. I guess it would be the next one on my to be read pile and then I’d hope it would be really good so I wasn’t disappointed!

What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?

It’s being interested from the start by a hook, the voice of the writer, the feelings of the characters and the setting. You need good setting to bring you into the book, too much, it weighs you down, to little, and you’re just skirting the edge, not fully involved. Oh, and lots of romance!!! (did I mention I like romance?)

What makes you put down a book without finishing it?

For me it’s not having a hook right from the first chapter. I like to be sucked into the book or else I will put it down. Being a busy mother I can’t afford to be wasting my time on something I’m not enjoying. Books that build up slowly don’t get much of a look in with me. Also ones with many heavy descriptions, I like a lot of dialogue and a fast pace. I prefer books without too many big words, and I don’t like many literary books. If I want to learn something, I’ll pick up an encyclopaedia. I read for escapism. LOL

Do you have a favourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws you to them?

Hmm, I guess at this moment its Richelle Mead for her Vampire Academy series. She ticks all my boxes: romance with a hunky older guy who’s one of the best fighters, a gutsy leading lady with a few flaws but is strong and amazing, plots that weave through all six books beautifully that keep me wanting more, characters that evolve and magic powers. What more could a 32yr old mother - who sometimes still feels like she’s 17 - want.

If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’ reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?

LOL, I’ll try. I’ve only just started reading lots since joining our local book club about three years ago…before that I was lost in life.

Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
Border Watch – Helene Young
Jillaroo – Rachael Treasure
Ransom – Julie Garwood – another one that started my reading early on.
Harry Potter – I was a teacher assistant when I read this with the kids.
Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead
House of Night – PC and Kirstin Cast – Who makes the weird seem so normal!
The Delta – Tony Park – for so much that happened in the first chapter!
Dark Country – Bronwyn Parry – mystery in the bush, with romance!
Twilight – Stephenie Meyer

What was your 2010 ‘best read’? What was it that made it number one?

I guess it would be Richelle Mead’s VA series, because I had six books to fall in love with and I’ve never waited with anticipation about any other book coming out before. It was written just for my inner teenager.

What do you think of the non-traditional publishing methods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage more people to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?

I’ve never read an eBook before - maybe in the future?? However, I think there will be room for both. I will still always buy a book, for the smell, the texture and being able to display it on my bookshelf. And I can see the benefits of an eBook when travelling too. As for encouraging more people to read? Maybe. Kids love technology.

Fiona Palmer is the bestselling author of The Family Farm, for which she received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship. She lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth. She has extensive farming experience, and was a speedway-racing driver for seven years. She currently works at the local shop in between writing her next book and looking after her two children. Find out more about Fiona at

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