GUEST BLOG: Bestselling author Fiona Palmer on what she’s been reading

20150629_133200I love book clubs and it’s wonderful to have one out here in tiny Pingaring – my hometown three hours south-east of Perth. It’s amazing how far ladies will travel to talk about books – and chat, drink wine and eat yummy food!! Our group of around ten come from all directions, some travel sixty kilometres to get here. But what a great way to read books outside of your comfort zone. I usually read romance, women’s fiction and YA. But the best thing about being part of our book club has meant pushing me outside of those genres, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

The Girl on The Train was one I never would have picked up to read, yet as it was our book club read I gave it a go. I found it easy going and it had me swiftly turning the pages to find out what was going to happen. I liked the twists and some I didn’t see coming – always a bonus because I can usually guess. It gave us lots to talk about, mainly how the women were all affected by a similar thread. Even though it was slightly disturbing, you still read the story for what it is and where it takes you emotionally. Do give it a try if you’re after something interesting.

the-string-diariesOur next book is The String Diaries, which I’ve only just finished. I thought it was cleverly written, jumping from each generation until they all slotted in like a big puzzle. I found myself enjoying this read too, wanting to see what would happen to Hannah and her family from the ‘curse’ (for want of a better word) that haunted their family. I can’t imagine how you could live your life with the constant fear ‘he’ would turn up but taking the face of someone you love and without you realising it. I don’t want to give too much away but it has a supernatural thread, which is woven in beautifully and is very believable. Do try and persist with it as it all starts to make sense as you connect the dots.

For something a little different, I’m going to introduce you to a favourite series of mine that I stumbled across. It’s probably classed as YA and written by Brigid Kemmerer. They are called the Elementals and the first book is called Storm. It’s about Becca Chandler who saves Chris Merrick from being beaten up in the school car park and how it changes her life. The Merrick boys are Elementals. And through each book that follows, Spark and Spirit etc. we get to meet each of the four brothers. I found this series a great read, turning pages late into the night. The thing I like about YA is it’s fast-paced and has lots of dialogue and they are fun to read.

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Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth. She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance. She has attended romance writers’ groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm. She has extensive farming experience, does the local mail run, and was a speedway-racing driver for seven years. She spends her days writing, helping out in the community and looking after her two children.

Pre-order your copy of Fiona’s The Saddler Boys here

the-saddler-boysThe Saddler Boys

by Fiona Palmer

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs.

PRAISE FOR FIONA PALMER

‘Fiona Palmer just keeps getting better.’ Rachael Johns

‘Palmer’s passion for the land bleeds into the story, and her scenes are vivid and genuine, just as her characters are.’ Book’d Out

‘Fiona Palmer has well and truly earned her place as a leading writer of one of Australia’s much-loved genres.’ Countryman

Pre-order your copy of Fiona’s The Saddler Boys here

GUEST BLOG: What Fiona Read – The July Round Up (by bestselling author Fiona Palmer)

0000006166After a crazy few weeks spending my days on a big Case quadtrac (instead of wheels – picture a triangle tracs) tractor for seeding, it was nice to be home and to start the book that has been sitting on my bedside table for ages — and, I mean ages. I’m talking about Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. It was actually last year, while in Perth promoting my book The Sunnyvale Girls that I found out Graeme and I were signing just hours apart and the store front widow was decorated with only our books. Yes, I was a little excited to be rubbing shoulders with Graeme, and not one to miss an opportunity, I asked if I could leave a copy of The Rosie Project for him to sign. On my return the next day I was greeted with a lovely surprise. Not only had Graeme signed my copy of his book but he also left a signed copy of The Rosie Effect. It made my day! And now, finally, I have just finished it and the hype was right, it was a very enjoyable book. I must say I loved being inside Don’s head, it really gave a new perspective on life and trying to understand what life is like for him. It was funny and so heart-warming. Definitely a great book club book.

the-sunnyvale-girlsAnother book I rate highly is one that came recommended from my writing mate, Margareta Osborn – Danielle Hawkins’ Dinner at Rose’s, with a wonderful cover quote from Liane Moriarty. Two great recommendations. It is a lovely story about Jo, who goes back to her small hometown after her best friend and boyfriend are caught out; and she visits her honorary aunty Rose and her nephew Matthew. You need to read this book just for Rose alone. You’ll never meet such a funny character, a bit eccentric but she has some great pets. It was a great love story, lots of laugh-out-loud moments and maybe a tear or two. This is one book that will leave you with a smile.

Speaking of Margareta Osborn, I just finished reading Rose River. I was enjoying it so much and tried fitting in a few chapters each night before sleep took over after a long day of work. Toward the end I even took it out on the tractor to find out how it ends! I had a GPS system after all and didn’t need to steer. But I didn’t factor in the bumps and found myself a little ‘tractor sick’ from having my head down. But I didn’t stop, I still wanted to know! Rose River is a light, heartfelt read that was highly entertaining in true Margareta style. She has lively characters, charming small communities and a sexy farmer to boot. I love a good romance story, and this one was perfect with Stirling, a gorgeous motorbike-riding farmer and city girl, Jamie who is more suited to the country than I think even she realised. Set in the East Gippsland mountains, what more could you want.

Stay tuned for a few more book recommendations/reviews.

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Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth. She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance. She has attended romance writers’ groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm. She has extensive farming experience, does the local mail run, and was a speedway-racing driver for seven years. She spends her days writing, helping out in the community and looking after her two children.

Pre-order your copy of The Saddler Boys here

the-saddler-boysThe Saddler Boys

by Fiona Palmer

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew.

As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs.

PRAISE FOR FIONA PALMER

‘Fiona Palmer just keeps getting better.’ Rachael Johns

‘Palmer’s passion for the land bleeds into the story, and her scenes are vivid and genuine, just as her characters are.’ Book’d Out

‘Fiona Palmer has well and truly earned her place as a leading writer of one of Australia’s much-loved genres.’ Countryman

Pre-order your copy of The Saddler Boys here

BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: Getting back to reading, by Fiona Palmer, author of The Sunnyvale Girls

fee1I read when I was young but not a lot, as I was an outside kid who had paddocks to play in and cubbies to build. At school, I only read what I had to for class and then after I left school it was as if I forgot to read. I was busy with work.

It wasn’t until I was twenty and working as a teachers aid that I was reintroduced to the joy of books. I read Mem Fox’s book on how important it is to read, especially to our children from birth. Then the teacher at that time started reading the first Harry Potter book to the kids. At times, I would read a few chapters as well. Their little faces were mesmerised, ears listening, their minds picturing every detail. But so was I. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened so I brought it and devoured it.

I was drawn into the story and realised what I’d been missing. I can actually say Harry Potter brought me back to reading. And I haven’t stopped since. As much as I love my life in my tiny rural town I love being able to escape into new worlds and stories that books bring. When my children were born, I read to them at every chance and they both love reading now at ages 11 and 9.

Mem Fox had it right. Reading is important.

Grab a copy of Fiona Palmer’s The Sunnyvale Girls here

the-sunnyvale-girlsThe Sunnyvale Girls

by Fiona Palmer

Three generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

‘Fiona Palmer just keeps getting better. This heart-warming tear-jerker kept me turning the pages right until the very end.’ Rachael Johns

About the Author

Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth. She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance. She has attended romance writers’ groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm. She has extensive farming experience, does the local mail run, and was a speedway-racing driver for seven years. She spends her days writing, helping out in the community and looking after her two children.

Grab a copy of Fiona Palmer’s The Sunnyvale Girls here

GUEST BLOG: My Inspiration for The Sunnyvale Girls by Fiona Palmer

My latest release, The Sunnyvale Girls, has real life past and present moments weaved into it. My inspiration for this story originated from the Italian prisoners of war stationed on farms in our wheat belt area in rural Western Australia. One of my friends and her family told me about Giulio Mosca, who was on their farm Sunnyvale, during the war. Hearing about Giulio and his house building skills I set out to learn more.

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This involved searching the archives for his prisoner records, which I found and requested. It was amazing to see these, and my friend’s farm written on the registered employers form. We learned so much about Giulio, where he was captured, where he went, where he was born and details about his father and also the ship he went home on. I couldn’t find out any more online. I had to visit Italy and search in person. A trip to Italy. Why not? So I packed my bags and went on a three week adventure to Italy visiting Venice, Rome, Montone, Florence, Lucca, Pisa, Naples, Pompeii….But the main stop was a little town of Chiaravalle in the province of Ancona, in the Marche region.

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Through sheer luck (and maybe the foresight to write down Italian words for ‘looking for the council, shire, records office’) we bumbled our way through the streets and found the building that looked like the shire office after directions from two lovely Italian ladies, who spoke no English. Inside this building we came across a policeman, Mimmo, who spoke enough English to understand (with the help of the documents and translations I had) what we were after. Mimmo took us to a nearby building and through a lengthy discussion with a lady, who didn’t want to give out personal information; we ended up with a name and number. Thank God Mimmo went into bat for us. We were told Giulio’s daughters didn’t speak English, so he’d given us the granddaughter’s number. We thanked him and headed off down the street to pay some more money into our parking meter. Then minutes later Mimmo found us again and introduced us to Giulio’s daughters, who he must have called earlier, and who came down to meet us. Here we are in the street. There were hugs and tears and conversation where we had absolutely no idea what either one was saying.

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Through their English speaking daughter Sylvia, we organised a lunch date and they came and visited us in Montone, where we were staying. Sadly we learnt Giulio passed away over twenty years ago from cancer. During our lunch, poor Sylvia had two conversations going trying to translate for both sides. But it was wonderful to share the stories of Giulio and to see the same photo’s he’d kept from Australia. His daughters said he never talked about the war times, except to say he’d liked being on Sunnyvale. It was a trip to remember and I came home with so much to write about. The Sunnyvale Girls is a book that will always hold a special place in my heart and I’m just so honored to have met Giulio’s family.

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Grab a copy of Fiona Palmer’s The Sunnyvale Girls here


9781921901454The Sunnyvale Girls

by Fiona Palmer

Three generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

Grab a copy of Fiona Palmer’s The Sunnyvale Girls here

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Conference: Top 10 moments

Recently our Romance Specialist Haylee Nash flew the flag for Booktopia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle. These are her stories.

dancing up a stormFor those of you who have never been to a Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Conference, or indeed any kind of romance conference, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a modestly sized room, filled with women. Hundreds of women. Each of these women are writers, romance writers, who spend their day behind a computer (if they’re lucky enough to be able to live from their writing) and in the rest of society are often derided for writing “those books”. So it’s fair to say that these women don’t often get the pleasure of speaking about romance, certainly not with fellow enthusiasts. Now to this joyous scene add oodles of champagne, a nautical theme and a conference venue that  is far enough away from most attendees to require staying at the hotel, sans husbands, significant others, kids, pets or any other responsibilities. Into this melee I walked, and, rather than wincing at the noise and leavig, I grabbed a champagne and, with stupidly big grin on my face, entered the fray. Continue reading

Australian Romance Author Showcase with…Fiona Palmer

As part of Australian Romance Month, Romance Specialist Haylee Nash will be interviewing one Australian Romance author per day. Much like a beauty pageant, each author will be using their charm, wit and grace (and the power of social media) to take home the Booktopia Romance Bestseller crown. Booktopia invites bestselling author of rural romance Fiona Palmer to the stage.

1. Describe the perfect date.
Oh this may sound really boring but for me any date is perfect without the following three things: kids, cleaning, cooking. Continue reading

Fiona Palmer, author of The Sunburnt Country, answers Nine Naughty Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fiona Palmer

author of The Sunburnt Country, The Road Home, Heart of Gold and The Family Farm

Nine Naughty Questions

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1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us little about your life before publication.

Hmm, you know I’m not sure. Maybe it’s both? I think it was reading romance books at a young age that gave me the bug, but then again maybe it was just me, I could have been predestined to love romance.

My life before publication, well it was a simple country one, where my kids and work took up most of my time. Now the computer and my characters are my best friends. (I do have real ones, it’s just hard to see them as much with the distances out here.) I grew up and now live in my tiny five house town, and because it’s so small you find yourself on every volunteer list. Not that I mind but out here you don’t just get to do a secretary job for a few years. Oh no! The last lady I took over from had done it for 17 years, so I expect I’m in for the long haul. And that’s just one position I have. But in such a small community it’s needed and just what you have to do. Being an author doesn’t change that at all either.

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of Romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why Romance Readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

Yes, I think so. It’s a real emotional journey, you try to connect with your readers, and that takes a lot of personal stuff. I do get embarrassed when people I know read my work, well I used to. I think now that I’m published and the books are selling well I don’t cringe as much. But I do get emotional. On the outside, I think I come across as strong and impenetrable but on the inside, it’s a whole different story. (I’m rather a softy and can tear up at the simplest things.) Now, I’ve never been good with the spoken word, can’t seem to express how I feel, yet when I write it’s a whole different experience. I can pour my heart out to my computer, or in a letter, yet when it comes to my mouth…nothing comes out. So I wonder if this is why I can fill my books with so much passion and heart as it’s a form of release?

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

My latest novel is about Jonelle Baxter, a 26-year-old mechanic from the small rural town of Bundara. Her town is struggling through a drought, which affects not only her business but her friends and family around her. And things go from bad to worse when a new city bank manager comes to town. Daniel Tyler has his hands full as he tries to rein in the spiraling debts of Bundara.

Click here to buy The Sunburnt Country from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

FROM THE PUBLISHER

Jonelle Baxter is a young woman in a man’s world – a tough, hardworking motor mechanic from an idyllic country family. But lately things in her perfect life have been changing, and her workshop isn’t the only local business that’s struggling.

Daniel Tyler is new in town, posted from the city to manage the community bank. As he tries to rein in the spiralling debts of Bundara, he uncovers all sorts of personal dramas and challenges.

The last thing Jonny and Dan need is an unwanted attraction to each other. She has enough problems just keeping her livelihood going and he’s fighting pressures that stretch all the way to Perth. It’s going to take more than a good drop of rain to break the drought and bring change in love and in life.

A moving and heartwarming story about the beauty that’s found in the bush, especially in the most trying of times.

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

Ha ha, no. Didn’t you know that’s why we write romance? So we can get some in our lives! No actually, I can’t complain. I’ve just come back from a romantic weekend with the hubby. We are coming up to our 12th anniversary and it’s certainly getting better with age. But when you have kids, the romance is hard to find sometimes. That’s why taking time out together or even just for yourself is so important.

5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

Well, when my husband proposed, I got the red roses, the cooked meal, nice set table and a gorgeous ring and that was very special and hard to go past. But I think in my writing I use more of the first sparks of lust/love. Nothing is more electric than that first meeting of eyes or that first kiss you’ve been hanging out to plant on someone. For me, the tension and lead up is just as important and sometimes much more exciting. I can still remember the moment when I went to work and saw my hubby across the road. I still remember what he was wearing, what he looked like. It’s those moments that tend to stay.

6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can’t see a thing’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a Romance novel?

I think it depends on the author and what they feel comfortable doing. I enjoy reading it because you are with the characters for the whole lead up and then its like, wham, they shut the door on you and you’re missing the bit they have been building up to. It’s like someone steeling your cappuccino you’ve just watched being made to frothy perfection and hiding around the corner and drinking it. You’ve got to at least be able to enjoy it with them. I don’t like to go overboard, and I have my parents who read my work and they soon tell me if I have. They are like my censors. “Darling that part was far too vulgar.”

7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) Romance Novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

Oh gosh. I guess I would have to start with the first romance book I read, Summer’s End by Danielle Steele when I was in primary school. Julie Garwood’s Ransom was another that I picked up early and every few years I re-read. And Rachael Treasure’s Jillaroo was the first rural book I had read. I had just written my first draft so her book gave me the confidence to get mine out there also. I also love YA, I think it’s young love and that first attraction that hooks me in (also I still think I’m 17 – in my mind at least.) I just finished Storm by Brigid Kemmerer and loved it. And my publisher put me onto Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver, brilliant book on writing (and the only one I have).

8. Paranormal Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?

Oh I am a big fan of this genre. Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy is one of my favourites. One, because her lead character is a strong, determined, gutsy girl. My kind of reading, and so much like my own characters; and because they are so fast-paced. In addition, there is that magic component, or super powers side of it. They are all beautiful and love fiercely.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write what you love, what you know and just keep writing. I get Dory’s line from Nemo stuck in my head all the time, but change it to ‘just keep writing, just keep writing…’

Fiona, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy The Sunburnt Country from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

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