AUTHOR OF THE MONTH: Fiona McArthur
Describe Heart of the Sky in one word:
Heart of the Sky centres around Tess Daley who following a life-changing loss decides to take up a position as a Breast Care Nurse with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
a. What sparked this story idea for you?
The spark was my desire to revisit Mica Ridge Flying Doctor Service, and continue to share the amazing and diverse work the RFDS do. My search needed a heroine who would be helped to heal by the diverse and delightful women at Blue Hills. Then I saw a show with a young widow and began to appreciate how hard, and brave, it was for her to move on – so Tess was born.
b. Is there a reason you specifically chose for your characters to represent the breast care nurses and RFDS for rural/regional patients?
Our family live rurally and my mum was a breast cancer survivor for many years. When I saw a story in our health services newsletter about the new breast care nurse at Macksville I was intrigued. This was a new service for the area. So, I went up to meet her, and found her truly inspirational. She recommended the ‘Take My Hand’ Anthology” about Breast Care nurses and I knew this had to be Tess’s specialty.
As a respected figure in the nursing and midwifery industry, how important do you feel weaving social issues (such as isolation for regional/rural patients) into fiction is?
Thank you for that. I love where my profession has taken me. To answer your question, I’d have to say vitally important for me. I have to feel passionate about the subject for my characters to project their own passion, so social issues that touch me make a large part of my setting. I want to share my admiration for remote communities, and the way disadvantaged groups surmount obstacles. I’m so lucky that meeting flight nurses and flying doctors, and rural/remote outreach health workers is one of the more fabulous benefits of being involved in health education. Lately, I’ve realised I like to have diverse ages with my female characters, and looking back, even my first short stories would often have an older secondary character, so social issues with the young and older are also very important to me.
What was your biggest challenge in writing Heart of the Sky?
That’s an easy one. Not letting the HOMESTEAD GIRLS take over. They were all such strong and real characters for me. Soretta has quite a large part in the book, and also the romance, but I needed to keep remembering that this was Tess’s story, and I really couldn’t have 6 different women having a say all the way through. It was a challenge but great fun and they are all still like sisters to me. I think Tess is feeling very fortunate she found Blue Hills but her strength, the inner survival she has shown, belonged to her.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just handed in my next book. I adored this latest story because the main character, the oldest sister Sienna, is my obstetrician from RED SAND SUNRISE. Sienna’s back on the trail of medical investigation despite the fact she is a city girl through and through and the book is set in outback Queensland. I had a lot of laughs as she struggled with her attraction to the outback policeman and loved the intrigue aspect. Again, social issues are part of the fabric of the story. This is a book I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years and readers have asked for. It’s out in October.
Heart of the Sky
From the internationally bestselling author of The Homestead Girls and Red Sand Sunrise comes this heartfelt story of friendship, forgiveness and love.
A year after a tragic accident changed her life forever, Tess Daley is in desperate need of a change. When she is offered a position with the Flying Doctor Service, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start. Yet once she arrives in remote Mica Ridge she feels like an outsider, unable to connect with her patients and unsure if she’ll ever fit in with this outback community.
Station owner Soretta Byrnes has grown to love the company and chaos that comes with living in a house filled with boarders. So with tenants moving out and bills piling up, it’s a welcome relief to have Tess and new pilot Charlie Fennes arriving in town and looking for somewhere to stay.
As they share life’s triumphs and challenges, it isn’t long before everyone at the station feels like family. But Charlie has yet to reveal his motive for coming to Mica Ridge and his secret will change the life of someone in the house forever …
About the Author:
Fiona McArthur works as a rural midwife and is a published author in fiction and non-fiction. Fiona lives in New South Wales with her husband and researching books means travelling to remote places to garner extraordinary stories from people who inspire her, before she returns to her other calling as a midwifery educator. She loves her life.