Today I’d like to welcome Fiona McArthur, author of the new release Heart of the Sky to Sam Still Reading. It’s a cracker of a book and I’ll tell you more in my review tomorrow. Take it away Fiona!
Fiona at Mt Gipps Station
Thanks so much for inviting me back to Sam Still Reading. I wish a happy and prosperous New Year to all. This is the start of a big year for me, too, with two single title books out with Penguin in 2017 and it’s great to be here. I’ve just finished the first draft of Sienna’s Story, readers may remember my bolshy obstetrician sister from RED SAND SUNRISE, and her book comes out in October – and can I tell you I have grinned my way through it.
But for now, I’d like to introduce you to Tess, in HEART OF THE SKY, and the fabulous Mica Ridge Flying Doctor Service, and yes, I loved every minute of it.
It’s funny how books are born. How the concepts are triggered by the world around us – by an article in a newsletter at work on the new McGrath Breast Care nurse in a small town up the road from me with an even smaller rural hospital.
I was also influenced also by an article in the SMH about the appointment of an RFDS Breast Care Nurse at Broken Hill the same time as I started Heart of the Sky. Which suited me because I needed an excuse to return to Broken Hill, and we did, for another fabulous week visiting the sights and Mount Gipps station and I wanted my setting authentic although I didn’t manage to catch up with the nurse – I so admire her work and apologise for any artistic licence in popping people in and out of planes. (Excerpt about the setting in Heart Of The Sky)
“The morning surrounded her and she breathed it in. Pure, crisp air, the chattering of birds, a small herd of feral goats moved collectively away from them like a small dappled cloud on the hillside.
She forgot about the man behind her, looked briefly at the golden sun on the horizon and closed her eyes. The intense gold circle burned with afterglow on her retina. She heard Charlie behind her, not too close, just there and it was nice to share the moment. Not something she’d needed before. Not that she needed it now but an interesting concept. She opened her eyes.
He said quietly, ‘I see what you mean about the line between light and dark.’
They both watched the steady creep of the copper line cross the dark hills. Slowly but surely fingers of orange-yellow crept down hillsides, slipped into gullies and reflected off the mica studded rocks and the white quartz that scored the hillsides like lines on a tiger’s back. And in the places sunlight didn’t reach? There lay shadows and dark shapes of stunted trees and jagged boulders.” See attached photos. Seriously, I love my job J
I needed to soak in the ochres and the blues and the people of this frontier world who cared about each other, and I loved my Homestead Girls, and thought how healing they could be for someone else with different issues. Some of the characters Blue Hills Station had to be revisited from THE HOMESTEAD GIRLS. The book itself is stand alone so you don’t need to read THG first.
Which is where Tess came in. A young widow, from a small coastal city, a fish out of water in the outback. Because I’ve never been an outback station wife or outback nurse, (but I have been a midwife for thirty years) and neither has Tess, and both of us had to make mistakes and grow and the best place to do that is on the job. Of course she needed friends. People who care. I knew just the place to find them, so this is Tess’s story and Tess’s adventure to healing. And then of course there is Soretta’s tempestuous love affair and Mia’s homecoming woven in her journey.
I hope readers love HEART OF THE SKY as much as I do.
And if you would like to know more about the fabulous Breast Care Nurses, can I recommend TAKE MY HAND – Inspiring stories from the McGrath Breast Care Nurses, by Jo Wiles, for more on the McGrath Foundation. A beautiful book that I drew heart from as well.
Warmest wishes to all for 2017