Joanita Wibowo


5 minutes with author Fiona McArthur

5 minutes with author Fiona McArthur

In 5 minutes with authorOver60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Fiona McArthur, an author based in country New South Wales. Drawing from her life as a former rural midwife, McArthur has shared her experience and love of working with women, fellow medical professionals and the outback community in her fiction and non-fiction books. Her latest novel, The Desert Midwife is out now.

Over60 talked with McArthur about outback heroes, a book series she wished she had written, and a scene she could not bring herself to write.

Over60: What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?

Fiona McArthur: That was a question I really had to think about. Most of the writing advice I’ve been given has been all about adding to the toolbox, full of good intentions, and most of it works in some little nugget for me if I interpret it in my way. But, most amusingly, the one that didn’t work for me was, “Write more sex.” I’m sorry. Not me. I’m a closed-door writer, a sweet writer, though sometime characters do surprise me with their intentions, they just have to do it when I’m not looking.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

I’ve gone crazy for Darynda Jones’ paranormal romance works – I love her fast-paced Charley Davidson Series and of course I’m hooked on series books. Which is why I do link my books though each can be read as a stand-alone book. I can’t help wanting to revisit past towns and people. I should say I mostly read on audiobooks.

What was the last book that made you cry or laugh?

Darynda Jones’ Eleventh Grave in Moonlight.

What book do you think is underrated? Alternatively, is there any book that you think gets more credit than it deserves?

I think Mills & Boon medical romance novels are underrated. Australian Marion Lennox is a writer who has the most amazing small town, feel good, incredibly three-dimensional romances that can change your day to smiles. She’s a romance author and is underrated for the star she is. Her 120th book just came out.

What are the tropes that you can’t help but love? Alternatively, which trope grinds your gears?

I love ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Like single mum makes it big. Like outback heroes. Like midwives and doctors who live to help people/patients/clients/ mums when they are vulnerable. I don’t like violence and unhappy endings.

Is there any book you wish you had written?

Absolutely. Outlander – also known as Cross Stitch – LOVE that book. Though I skimmed the really violent parts.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I haven’t suffered yet, sympathy to those who have, and I hope I won’t. 500 words a day keeps me going forward. There are much faster days but if I feel blocked just 500 words will do. Even if it’s on a different project. But don’t stop writing.

Which three authors – living or deceased – would you most like to have dinner with?

Peter O’Donnell/Madeleine Brent – he was my author hero when I was young and he taught me about strong heroines and having men as friends. Georgette Heyer who taught me about subtle humour and, again, strong heroines. And for the third, I’d say Diana Gabaldon but I’d be in too much awe, so Darynda Jones as she’d be hilarious as a dinner guest.