Today I am delighted to welcome Fiona Lowe to Behind the Pen, here to talk about reading, writing, and the publication of her 30th novel.
What inspired your most recent book?
Like all my novels, it is always a series of ideas that come together. I’m part of the sandwich generation so I wanted to write a character going through the balancing act of ageing parents and teenage children. I also wanted to explore a family’s behaviour around a large inheritance. This meant writing about elder abuse and adult sibling rivalry. Oh, and I threw in a midlife crisis as well, because, why not!
How much research do you do? As an author of contemporary fiction, how do you balance the demands of getting the facts right and telling a good story?
I am a bit addicted to research so I discipline myself to stop otherwise the book would never get written. Both Birthright and Daughter of Mine have scenes set in the 1960’s and 1970’s, as well as the present day. Often an hour of research results in one line but it’s important to have details correct or it rips the reader out of the story. I read a book recently that referenced Bangladesh in 1951, but it wasn’t called by that name until 1971 and it really distracted me.
What authors and types of books do you love the most?
I am a very eclectic reader and I pick up all sorts of books from literary to genre, although I avoid horror and I don’t do so well with suspense as I get palpitations. I enjoy contemporary character-driven stories, especially about people dealing with life’s big issues.
What is your favourite childhood book? Did reading as a child have any bearing on your decision to become a writer?
You’ll only let me name one? I’m guessing by childhood you mean 12 and under? Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery and the entire series. I think I’ve re-read all those books at least five times.
Have you ever had to deal with a situation where someone feels they recognise traits of themselves in one of your characters?
Just about everyone in my family reckons bits and pieces of them have appeared in all my books! In Daughter of Mine, I created a town in the Western District. I’ve had people argue with me, telling me it must be Hamilton, or it’s totally Camperdown but in fact it is a compilation of three towns. I’ve done the same thing in Birthright.
Can you tell us something about yourself that not many people would know?
I once learned to tap dance when I was in an amateur production of the play, Dinkum Assorted.
If you could go back in time for a year, which historical era would you choose to live in?
I adore Art Deco architecture so I guess the 1920s & 30’s.
Is an inheritance a privilege or a right?
Does it show love? Margaret, the matriarch of the wealthy Jamieson family, has always been as tight-fisted with the family money as she is with her affection. Her eldest daughter, Sarah, is successful in her own right as a wife, mother and part owner of a gourmet food empire. But it’s not enough to impress her mother. Always in the shadow cast by the golden glow of her younger brother, Sarah feels compelled to meet Margaret’s every demand to earn her love.
Does it give security? After a poverty-stricken childhood, Anita has claimed the social status she’s worked so hard to achieve by marrying Cameron Jamieson. Although they have a comfortable life, she’s never able to fully relax, fearing everything can change in a heartbeat.
Or does it mean freedom? Ellie, the youngest, has lived a nomadic and — according to her siblings — a selfish life, leaving them to care for their ageing mother. For her, freedom means staying far away from the strings attached to her inheritance, but she needs to consider her young son’s future as well.
As their mother’s health deteriorates, will long-held secrets and childhood rivalries smash this family into pieces?
An addictive and page-turning story of the relationships between siblings, and of deceit, betrayal and revenge.
Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker; an ideal career for an author who writes novels about family and relationships. A recipient of the prestigious USA RITA® award and the Australian RuBY award, Fiona’s books are set in small country towns and feature real people facing tough choices and explore how family ties impact on their decisions.
When she’s not writing stories, she’s a distracted wife, mother of two ‘ginger’ sons, a volunteer in her community, guardian of 80 rose bushes, slave to a cat and is often found collapsed on the couch with wine. You can find her at her website, Facebook, Twitter @FionaLowe, Instagram and Goodreads. Birthright (HQ Fiction) is her current release.