I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of traveling in my life (and I have plans to do a whole heap more!), but for many years our trips always left the borders of Australia, taking us to places that seemed far more exotic and interesting.
Toward the end of one year where my husband and I had been away from Australia for nine months, we found ourselves driving through the deserts of Nevada. We were totally blown away by the colours, having never been in a desert before. And then it hit us. We came from the country with a huge desert and we’d never even seen it. Our bad!
A year later on a crisp and cold outback winter dawn, we floated across the central Australian desert in a hot air balloon, gazing down on a mob of kangaroos, bounding across the red dust and spinifex. Right there and then I fell in love with my country.
Since that trip, the outback has always fascinated me. The tyranny of distance, the choking dust, the amazing challenges of dealing with high temperatures and lack of water, and the fact that the pioneers really thought they could make a go of it. Deluded or Determined? Either way, many did make a go of it and those that did fell in love with this “wide, brown land.”
In 2008, life in the outback is still a tough gig but our outback communities and cattle stations have satellite communications, the support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and helicopters and planes to link them more quickly with the urbanised eastern coast.
I love creating my fictional outback towns where everyone is only 1-2 handshakes away from everyone else and the wonderful sense of community that comes from that. It can be used to help or hinder my heroine and hero, and in A Wedding In Warragurra, it does both! The outback heat shimmers between them, and the township of Warragurra pushes them together whether they like it or not.
I had SO much fun creating Warragurra that I couldn’t just set one book there so a second story, The Playboy Doctor’s Marriage Proposal, follows in September.
What place in the world have you visited that made a lasting impression on you?
Fiona’s seventh book, A Wedding in Warragurra is out now in the UK and hits the shelf in Australia on April 15th. Visit her website for some outback adventure and a chance to win her latest release.