A revhead, popular author and much more

A revhead, popular author and much more

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 Fiona Palmer was a speedway driver for seven years before becoming a renowned Australian author, basing many of her books in the rural type settings in which she grew up in Pingaring.

Fiona Palmer was a speedway driver for seven years before becoming a renowned Australian author, basing many of her books in the rural type settings in which she grew up in Pingaring.

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We go one-on-one with top-selling author Fiona Palmer.

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TOP ten national best selling author Fiona Palmer has had many hats throughout her life.

She's been a speedway driver, a government worker, a small business owner, a teacher's assistant, a farmhand, a wife and a mum.

Having grown up in the small rural community of Pingaring, Ms Palmer told Farm Weekly journalist BREE SWIFT that after becoming a farmhand in recent years, she had discovered another passion in agriculture.

She said the experience had been rewarding, giving her confidence to attempt things she never would have otherwise and that it has also been her rural life that actually inspired her writing career.

QUESTION: What did you want to be growing up?

Answer: A V8 supercar driver was at the top of the list (dream big).

But I only ever saw myself staying in my rural community, I didn't care what I did, as long as I got to stay in my hometown.

Q: A few of your books have been set on farms or in rural areas.

Having grown up and still residing in the small rural community of Pingaring, 350 kilometres from Perth, do you draw on your own personal experiences to help create the settings, characters and plots in your novels?

A: Most definitely.

I actually began writing because I was inspired by our rural way of life, our community and its hardships.

I always say that I'm a storyteller, not a writer.

I wasn't very good at English at school, I left early, so my focus isn't on creating a literary masterpiece.

For me it's about the yarn, the journey, the landscapes and telling the stories of everyday characters.

As a busy mum I wanted books that were engaging but quick to read.

 While writing her books Ms Palmer works as a farmhand for a family friend in North Lake Grace.

While writing her books Ms Palmer works as a farmhand for a family friend in North Lake Grace.

Q: Do you think it's important for authors to write about what they know or is part of the fun learning new things and then incorporating those ideas into your stories?

A: A bit of both.

When I started writing I used everything I knew or had experienced.

Write what you know, is a well-known saying in the writing world.

But there are times when you want to explore new avenues, the Italian prisoners of war, or Vietnam vets etc and you have to conduct a fair bit of research.

It is much harder but it is also an eye opener and very rewarding.

Q: You were a speedway driver for seven years.

How did this come about and what made you give it up?

A: We are a family of speedway drivers.

From my pop to my dad.

I grew up listening to the stories and at 16 got my first race car.

I'd been driving since I could reach the pedals and love anything with wheels - tractors, trucks, loaders, headers.

I stopped racing when I was three months pregnant with my daughter and then my kids started racing a few years ago so it didn't take long before I had a car and was back racing.

At one point we were taking four cars across to Narrogin.

I race with my dad in Street Stocks and by the end of next year my son will join us.

Three generations on one track - I look forward to that day.

Q: What other hobbies do you have?

A: I race as often as I can.

I gave up hockey when I did my ACL but I love to surf and read, if I can find the time.

Q: Is agriculture a passion of yours?

A: It is, but I didn't realise until later in life.

My dad is a local contractor for farmers and I spent every weekend out on my uncle's farm growing up.

Even after I had my kids I would go back out and help them shift at harvest.

I never thought of a career in ag, especially as we didn't have a farm and my uncle sold up.

Luckily I got approached by some friends to drive their spare header while the kids were at school, about seven years ago.

I jumped at the chance and have been working as a farmhand for them ever since.

It works in perfect with my writing career and I'm fulfilling a desire I didn't realise I had.

Every day I'm learning something new, I found a passion in welding and shed work but also love driving all the machinery.

Q: Do you think it's important for women on farms to have their own passion projects outside of agriculture?

A: I think everyone needs a passion away from work or off-farm.

You need to have something to look forward to, things to get you up and finishing your jobs.

Something that takes you out of your comfort zone and gets you fired up.

It can be harder to do in smaller communities, we end up having to drive a long way, but it's worth it.

Q: Having been a speedway driver, a farmhand, a government worker, a small business owner, a teacher's assistant, a top 10 national bestselling author, a wife and a mother, what has been your most rewarding role so far?

A: My family, kids are hard work but worth it.

And being a farmhand has changed me - it's given me confidence to attempt things myself.

I'm grateful for what I have learned.

I try not to shy away from any job.

If I'm going to drive a header, I want to know how to fix it and maintain it and that carries onto my race car.

Slowly I'm learning how to take care of it and fix it.

And being an author has pushed me outside my comfort zone and sent me all over the country.

I hated public speaking and now have to stand before big crowds.

Some of the hardest things can be the most rewarding.

I wouldn't change anything.

I have the best of everything.

Q: What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?

A: It could be writing a top 10 bestseller - most people would assume that - yet I would put learning to weld right up there alongside it.

Q: Do you have another book in the pipeline?

A: Yes I'm editing one, hopefully I finish before seeding.

Then we go to Karratha for the Junior State Title and I'll stop in at Karijini to get ideas for the next book and then start writing that one between seeding and harvest.

Q: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

A: Write.

Just write something, anything.

The first draft doesn't have to be brilliant, just get your story down.

You can't edit a blank page.

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