The second installment in our 'Rural Outback' series is by the lovely Fiona Palmer. SHe is the author of 'The Family Farm' and 'Heart of Gold'. We asked her What makes you love writing Aussie 'rural' fiction and why should we love it? and this is her answer.
I was born and raised in the country. I grew up driving cars, riding motorbikes, catching yabbies, making cubbies in the bush and roasting marshmallows by many bonfires. We spent time on the tractors at seeding, picking rocks and mallee roots, and riding in headers at harvest and in the trucks for hours on end carting grain. We had picnics in the bush and ran around with our bare feet getting cuts and broken bones from climbing trees.
It’s an infectious place to live. The heat, dust and flies get under your skin and the changing of the seasons, to me, are worth experiencing. Each season has its pro’s and con’s. After a cold wet winter, you yearn for the heat and then when you get the heat you wish for the rain again. I love the way the heat simmers over the golden wheat heads, or the way the mist hangs above the bright green crops. And in spring when all the wildflowers are out and the wattle scent floats on the warm breeze. Each of these things brings a feeling of energy and emotion.
But its not just the countryside. Its also the characters you find here. How a small community lives together, and supports each other…even if you totally dislike someone! He or she could be the cranky neighbour up the road who never says a nice word but if their house is on fire or their kids gone missing, everyone rallies to help, because that cranky neighbour is apart of the community. They are a pillar that makes our towns what it is, much like a large family, and the camaraderie among them is wonderful. Folks band together when things get tough, help out people in need even when struggling themselves. It’s these endearing acts that make great reading, and is what I try to bring to life in my writing. And not forgetting the bad side to small towns, the grapevines, the gossip. Having everyone know everyone can cause all sorts of chaos. (yet more writing fodder)
I love writing rural fiction for this reason, to share this sometimes weird and wonderful way of life. There is always something going on, bushfires, floods, frosts, plagues, and even just having a family leave the community can be devastating.
I love it all so much, I just have to write about it. And I can only hope that the readers take something away from my work. Whether it is an understanding of how things are done in the bush or just an appreciation of our wonderful rural areas. So maybe next time folks plan for a trip, I hope its to see what’s at their own back door first.
I have city friends and I have lived in the city myself. I love the city (but only for short visits) and a lot of country people visit often. We are used to travelling. But my city friends have never travelled out to the country. They couldn’t even imagine driving that far…and on gravel…no way! (Note: not all city people are like this…maybe just my friends) So my writing is a way for them to experience some of the country life without getting into a car and without getting mud on their shoes.
As to ‘why should we love it?’ I guess it comes down to experiencing another way of life. My books are fiction but underneath all the characters troubles and plot lies the realistic way of life out here. Its how farms are run and how things are done. I don’t make that part up, it’s as true as I can make it, even from shearing a sheep to how crops are put in. So if you want to try something from a little slice of outback Australia, please add a ‘rural’ fiction to your tbr pile.
Fiona has a new book coming out in April 2012 called The Road Home. If you want a good read then look out for it. Also if you would like to learn more about Fiona then head over to her website here.