Fiona Palmer is a talented West Australian author with a colourful career behind her. She has just released an engaging tale of friendship which I absolutely adore. We talk to her today about her life and the new book. I have to say, I found trying to write questions that didn’t give away too much of the story pretty tricky this time round. I hope you enjoy getting to know Fiona and her story a little better.
Hi Fiona, welcome to Mic Loves Books and thanks for taking the time to talk with us.
You wear many hats Fiona, how do you juggle work, motherhood and writing?
Hmm, usually I do one until the other interrupts. My kids are at boarding school now so it’s not so bad unless I have to pick them up or it’s school holidays. But they are 15 and nearly 17 and can fend for themselves. (Much harder when they were little!) I’m lucky that my farm work job is very flexible. They let me take days off for writing and kid stuff or events, they tell me I am the boss. So I do pick and choose when I can work, except for seeding time and harvest, then it’s 100% flat out farm work. Writing has its set times, between the farm work, and I find I tend to write best at night after I’ve done a day’s work at the farm. I think I am someone who needs to stay busy to be productive… give me a heap of time off and I flounder about binge watching and reading.
The latest release is Tiny White Lies, can you tell us about the book?
This book focuses on two friends, Ashley and Nikki, who both have teenagers with issues around phones etc. They decide that it would be great to get their kids away from this and head to a remote coastal retreat owned by Nikki’s husbands cousin. Except there are a few little issues that all of them are dealing with, some huge actually. All their little lies catch up with them. But it’s not all bad as a little holiday romance happens also.
Tiny White Lies is a contemporary romance but I found the setting to be quite rural, can you tell us what distinguishes a contemporary romance from a rural romance?
For me they are very similar, except my ‘rurals’ usually come with more country antics and slang. But this book felt very close to home being set in a favourite holiday place of mine.
Where did the inspiration for this story, and these characters, come from?
I have two teenagers and their lives seem to revolve around their phones, so all my fears and issues morphed into the bones of this book. I dreamt of a phone free holiday and that’s ideally what I created. And then introduced some issues for the parents as well so in the end they ALL needed a coastal retreat. The characters morphed out of the ideas, they became who I needed them to be to make the story work. Sometimes the characters can come first or the setting or the conflict. It depends on each book and ideas.
Is Hakea Hollow a real place (I would love to go there)?
It is in my mind! I wish it was real. It’s set near a real place, Bremer Bay and I picture the farm to be in a set area where you can reach the ocean. I could probably mark it on a map lol.
You really put these characters through the wringer, was there any extra research you had to do?
Yes I had a bit to do for Nikki, but I won’t go into details and spoil the story. And also with Ashley, for her husband and herself. Even though I’ve been to Bremer I still had to do some fun research there too.
Do you think it’s a reflection of the friendship when secrets of these magnitudes are kept? Or do some people not share it all even with their closest friends?
I think each person is different. Some people like to not share their burdens, and are very private people. My husband is a very private person, whereas, on the other hand, I’ll tell everyone anything…whether they wanted to know or not!! I think it’s very easy to keep things to yourself if life is busy…but when you have real time with someone, a weekend with a close friend, those quiet moments alone when you can really get to the bottom of lots of topics and in depth conversation starts is the key. I feel we need that special time to allow things to arise, just a quick…’How are you going?’ over a half hour coffee break sometimes isn’t enough for the big heavy stuff. I think life has lost that ‘time’, now it’s all go, go, go.
The time at Hakea Hollow had a profound effect on the teens in the novel, is this a change you’ve witnessed firsthand?
Yes, when we go to Bremer Bay the kids all get together (cousins) and spend hours in the water and hanging out. The phone time is way less. They have long stints of not even touching them, and it’s sooooo refreshing. In the quiet down times back in their tents they pull them out but there is a lot of fun time just being kids with other kids and it reminds me of my childhood (back before phones lol). They sit around the fire and tell jokes, talk to us, we have singing and marshmallows… it’s the best of times. The kids really come out of their shells.
Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?
Yes my next book is about an author’s retreat but it’s not all what it seems.
Where is your favourite place to write? And do you have a favourite time of day?
I just write in my office, which is kind of like the junk room! But it does the trick. I mostly write at night unless I have set writing days then I try hard to get a heap of words done by the end of the day. (I procrastinate too much during the day…so much else needs doing)
Good luck with the release of Tiny White Lies, I loved it and I’m sure all your readers will too.
Thank you Michelle and thanks for having me. xx
Thanks for talking with us Fiona.