Remembering all the houses and flats I’ve ever lived in, I realised that even in London, I could look out my bedroom window and see trees. The best places I’ve lived are the ones where I could lay in bed and watch the trees and the birds, and the changing seasons.
I was born and raised in a farming community in the Murray Mallee region of rural South Australia, and my heart will always be in the country, and when I’m not physically there, I yearn to return. These days home is the Clare Valley wine-growing region in South Australia.
Before following my dream to become a writer, a career as a registered nurse gave me the opportunity to experience many country health practice settings – lots of ideas and inspiration!
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked in the Northern Territory, Outback South Australia and Queensland; I’ve done agency nursing in London, and volunteer work in a hospital in Vietnam. And I’ve worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
My ongoing fascination with the complexities of small country communities, the characters I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had, are all reflected in the novels I’ve written, and the ones I’m planning. Providing good, sustainable health services in rural and remote communities will always be a challenge.
And books have always been an integral part of my life. No moment is complete without me being somewhere in a book – either reading it or anticipating going back to it, or looking forward to starting the next one. Then there’s that feeling that lingers like an afterglow, long after I’ve finished a particularly good story.
But when I started writing I knew nothing of the craft. I didn’t even know a journalist or a writer, or anyone in marketing! And there were rejections, so I set about learning everything I could about the craft, and the business of writing. I attended workshops, wrote, joined a writers’ group, and went on to successfully complete an Advanced Diploma of Arts – Professional Writing with the Adelaide Centre for Arts, graduating in 2009.
My first publishing success came with a short story called Waiting for Harry. I entered it in the Romance Writers’ of Australia’s Little Gems competition, and won a place in their annual anthology. Of course I was over the moon.
And, I got to be a journalist! Over several years I wrote 60-plus stories for the free rural newspaper, The Flinders News.
Then in March 2015, my first novel, The Country Practice (Penguin) appeared in book shops. The Doctor Calling (Penguin Random House) followed in 2016, and No Job for A Girl (Penguin Random House) in 2017. Home at Last (Harlequin Mira) will be released on 1 April 2019.
Nursing was my first career, and writing is my second. If a friend hadn’t challenged me to follow my dream, I might still be pounding hospital corridors!
“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx.