Here’s my thoughts on the last three writers who I admired from the festival
I was so entranced by Fiona Palmer that I forgot to take notes. Fiona is a West Australian Romance Writer, lives three and a half hours east of Perth in Pingaring.
Genuine down to earth Aussie country girl
Never will you meet a more down to earth unassuming woman. Fiona is a natural beauty I suspect both internally and externally. A passion for writing and farming I think she is also a planning queen. Otherwise how would you fit it all in farming, family, and writing?
From what I could gather happy on the end of a tractor as much as she is at her desk writing her novels, a natural conversationalist. I am not one to read romance novels but Fiona has definitely changed my thinking. She is warm, funny, open and honest as ever one shall you meet.
What a hoot she is you could listen to her story all day
- Eldest of 8
- First in her family to attend Uni and travel
- Writes three to four series at once
- Is probably the bravest woman I know?
Isobelle wrote her first piece of fiction when she was just 14 and what is more astonishing is that piece of work was published 10 years later.
A couple of great quotes from Isobelle
‘You can only be brave if you’re not brave’
‘Takes magnificent stupidity to save us’ (a personal favourite)
Isobelle tells the story of how she met her husband, she was starving, tipsy (drinking wine) not eating as there was no vegetarian options so realistically alcohol was the diet of choice, was thrown off a train at gunpoint by Russian soldiers, lived in Prague with her partner and daughter, ended up living in Brisbane, lucky Brisbane.
Her best selling novel that won the best book of the year is ‘The Gathering’.
No secret here she’s my idol; I love the way she writes, and have admired her from afar. Her novel leaves me wanting more I can feel see breathe sense and hear her words. Her characters feel like they are in my skin.
Elemental is a story of the Herring girls told by Meggie (a herring girl) to her granddaughter, starting in and around the 1920’s. When I first opened the book my heart sank as I could see the work was peppered with Scottish inflictions. I thought it would be difficult to read and I could not have be more wrong, see never ‘ass u me’.
I learnt so much form Amanda about her research and how to write a sad book that doesn’t necessarily need to be so sad if you get my drift.
Quotes from Amanda
‘We don’t tell children how sad the world can be’ (so true)
‘You don’t know who you are till you know where you came from’
Becoming a herring girl gave you the only opportunity to escape from a life of poverty, looking at your mothers and grandmother’s life and what would shortly be your passage. Working in bitter bitter, weather, hard manual labour, losing a finger or two to gangrene if you were unlucky, gutting between 50 to 80 herring per minute travelling from port to port.
Superstitions abundant in the day; red heads were seen as bad luck, were banned from the docks. Fisherman never learnt to swim, as once they fell into the water hypothermia got you quick smart, you were left to drown as your crew mates watched on.
Amanda’s presentation was the most visual, a slide show of the photos that inspired her novel, we saw what herring girls looked like, how they dressed, how barren and cold the land must be, tending to the fish and mending the nets.
I learnt from Amanda how important stories are to be passed over to the next generation otherwise they are lost. We learnt the connections and the brutality of those returning from the war, men suppressed, no voice, the impact of what they cannot share.
Amanda included photos of a stone castle in Scotland where she wrote some of her novel, and yes the novel does have 9 deaths but what a novel indeed.
It still haunts me.