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Family, Love, Drama: Q&A with Fiona Palmer about her latest novel, Sisters and Brothers

September 7, 2018

About the author:

Before becoming an author, Fiona Palmer was a speedway driver for seven years and now spends her days writing both women’s and young adult fiction, working as a farmhand and caring for her two children in the tiny rural community of Pingaring, 350km from Perth. The books Fiona’s passionate readers know and love contain engaging story-lines, emotions and hearty characters. She has written nine bestselling novels and her most recent book, Secrets Between Friends, was a Top Ten national bestseller.

Purchase a copy of Sisters and Brothers here 

Read our review of Sisters and Brothers here 

Sisters and Brothers is your fabulous new novel. Can you tell us a bit about the story?

The book starts with Bill in the mid 1970’s with his flares and love of music. His story is threaded through the book as we experience his greatest love. The rest is set in the current day and follows four separate people and how they are may or may not be connected. One of those is Sarah, Bill’s only daughter who is at a point in her life where she’s just existing and not living. It’s a story about belonging, family and being truly happy.

Was there a character in Sisters and Brothers that you enjoyed writing the most? Why?

I’d say it was Emma, the nurse with three kids and a FIFO husband. She was a lot of fun and I tapped into my inner bogan for her. Think Ugg boots, tattoo’s and a muscle car. I loved Emma’s zest for life and the love she has for her family. I feel she had a real grip on the true meaning of living life.

Your books delve into the intricacies of family, belonging, and identity in really skillful ways. What draws you to continue exploring these themes?

I am lucky enough to have a very big happy family. Lots of Aunties, Uncles and Cousins. We are all a little crazy and have our individual quirks but we embrace these and still love each other unconditionally. It’s a strong bond. Then there is the non-blood family. My community. We are all different yet we would be the first to offer help to anyone in need and I love that feeling in our community. Then there are those friends that are always there for you. Family comes in many forms. My grandad was adopted at sixteen months and he embraced his new family as if he’d been born to them. Nothing else existed. This book especially digs into all those ideals and intricacies.

You live in a rural community. How has this influenced your writing?

It was the whole reason I started writing in the first place. To share my love of the rural countryside and our way of life. I’m so lucky to write about something I am passionate about. From there I have grown as a writer, able to write about issues other than the rural ones that first inspired me. As a mother I find family issues quite relevant!

And finally, just because we’re always on the lookout for new books to read, what are you reading at the moment?

I was very lucky to receive an ARC of The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell. Peggy Smart, 79 ½ will have you smiling and make you realize you don’t have to prepare for death just because you’re in a retirement village. It’s filled with warmth, charm and funny moments. It tug at the heart strings and makes you cheer on Peggy. Fabulous book!


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