Bee Our Guest: Author Fleur McDonald

How I Got My Novels Published
by Fleur McDonald

I never started out thinking I could get published. I started writing because I loved it. And because my youngest child is autistic, I was trying to help his attention span by writing kids stories about things he knew and understood, like our farm animals. When I submitted them to my mentor, he told me, "You're hiding your light under a bush! Get your skates on and submit these to a publisher." Which I duly did, but without success.

After a while, I decided I wanted to write a women’s fiction novel. I wrote half of it and submitted one chapter to Allen and Unwin through their Friday Pitch Day. I was rejected, but with a positive note that said, "Your writing is strong and commercial." I wasn’t going to let that go, so six months later I re-submitted and had a contract within a month. Allen and Unwin bought Red Dust on the first three chapters, so all I had to do was write the rest of the novel.

Red Dust sold to Germany before it was released in Australia. They also bought the rights to my second book, Blue Skies, which wasn’t even written at that stage! Both of these books have gone on to be best sellers in Australia.

In between all of the excitement of my new ‘career,’ I still work full time on our farm. I raise two children and help care for my terminally ill mother-in-law. In fact, I wrote most of my third book, Purple Roads, while taking her to Perth for doctors appointments.

The most exciting email I have ever received was when I was told that Red Dust was being distributed in the US. It’s available there now, with Blue Skies due out soon.

If you really love something, you can always make the time do it. For me, that’s when I drive 100kms to the closest town to do my shopping and spend two hours in my accountant's office, hitting the keyboard or outside while I’m working! Love it!

Fleur McDonald lives 110km east of Esperance on 8,000 acres with her husband where they care for their two children and a menagerie of dogs, cattle and sheep, as well as the tractors and machinery required for cropping. Fleur is convinced the machinery is as needy as the stock and children sometimes!

In 2009, Red Dust was the highest selling novel for a debut author. In 2010, it was short listed for the Australian Book Industry Awards as Newcomer (Debut) Author of the year and the R*BY Awards.