Fleur McDonald is a bestselling Australian author with a strong background in farming that informs her writing and offers the authenticity that fans have come to love.
Something To Hide is the latest release, a gripping rural crime novel, following more of the early career of fan favourite Detective Dave Burrows.
I was fortunate to have Fleur answer some questions for us about her life and writing, I hope you enjoy getting to know her a little better.
What inspired you to become a writer?
I think writing is just something I fell into! I’d always liked to write when I was a kid but hadn’t ever given it any thought as a career – most of the authors I was reading as a child (like Enid Blyton) were dead, so I didn’t think it was a great career choice and to be brutally honest, I hadn’t given the authors much thought! (Terrible to say that now!) When my son, Hayden came along, he was diagnosed with autism and I was trying to help his attention span by writing little, short stories about the things he knew; pet lambs and calves, the working dogs and so on.
And just before all of that happened, I read a book called Jillaroo by Rachael Treasure and realised I was in the prime position to write something similar. I was living and working on a farm, had a great imagination and loved writing. So I sat down and wrote Red Dust and well… here we are!
Something To Hide is your latest novel, can you tell us a little about it?
Something to Hide picks up right at the end of Red Dirt Country – I left a huge cliff hanger at the end of that book and Something to Hide is supposed to finish off what was started by Bulldust and Scotty (characters who have been with me for the last two books). Now I can’t tell you whether or not this is the actual finish of these two, and Dave’s vendetta against them, but what I can tell you is that all three men become reckless in their need to destroy the other which can only provide much tension and entertainment. (I hope!)
Det. Dave Burrows is the leading man, and definitely a much loved character. Can you tell us about creating him?
Dave has been around since 2007 and when I first started writing Red Dust. From then on, he’s been in and out of books until Emerald Springs, when he gained a pretty big following! First off he was created from a figment of my imagination but I think over time he’s morphed into people I’ve loved and lost and respected. He’s the perfect, yet flawed man and I would have married him years ago if he were real!
You write prolifically and release 2 novels a year, both featuring Det. Dave. How do you keep the timelines straight?
It’s pretty simple because the early series are set in early 2000s, while the November book, which is the rural lit book, is set in the present day. What’s been tricky is not having realised I was going to write the ‘early Dave’ series and having to fit his story into what’s already happened in his life since we met in his 2009. I’ve certainly made some things happen to him, which haven’t been mentioned in the early rural lit books. But I guess this is fiction and I can take a bit of poetic licence!
What inspired the return to Det. Dave’s early career?
When I got divorced I moved into Esperance and had a lot of spare time on my hands. My agent and I approached Allen and Unwin about writing two books a year, which they were keen to do, but we didn’t want to write two rural lit books as we felt that might be a bit too much. It was as Dave was beginning to get a following so I suggested we take Dave back to early days. That was also so I could shift him around to lots of different towns so we didn’t end up with a ‘midsomer murder’ issue where there were going to be a very few people left in one town! Unfortunately the shifting around hasn’t happened too much yet, but that might be just about to start…
Something To Hide is the next book after Red Dirt Country, which left us on a massive cliffhanger, and I was curious about the indigenous community Spinifex Downs. Did you base it on a real place?
No, it wasn’t. I spent a lot of time talking to a person who’d spent time up on the stations and knew about how communities on stations worked. The rest is made up and any mistakes there are mine.
Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment?
I’m editing the next rural lit book, which will be out in November and starting the ‘early Dave’ one next week. There is no rest for the wicked when you’re writing two a year!
Have you got plans to write more novels away from a rural setting?
Not at this stage. I tried it once and because I don’t live in a city, I found it quite hard. I believe if you write what you know, your words and story line are much more authentic which makes for page turning… Hopefully!
What are you passionate about outside of writing that you would care to share with us?
I love reading and photography, volunteering in the community, walks on the beach with my kelpie, Jack and lazy Sunday afternoons drinking wine with my friends.
Good Luck with the release of Something To Hide and I can’t wait to read what comes next. Thanks for talking to us.
Something To Hide is published by Allen & Unwin and is available now from Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.