Author Fiona Palmer takes pride in novel Matters of the Heart

Author Fiona Palmer.
Author Fiona Palmer.

IT is not every day an author tells you she writes her novels between seeding and harvest, but that is the three-month deadline farmhand Fiona Palmer is bound by.

“I get off the tractor after 13-hour days, seven days a week then I try to write it before harvest starts,” Palmer said.

“My deadline is the first of November for the initial draft and then come January, after harvest, we start the editing process which goes back and forth until about March. I also have to take time out for the book release.”

Born and raised in Pingaring, three and a half hours drive from Perth towards Wave Rock, Palmer has released her 15th book Matters of the Heart, which recasts her favourite novel Pride and Prejudice to rural WA in the 21st century.

“I thought on and off for years that an Australian version would work so well,” she said.

“Then I was on a cruise with author Rachael Johns who was reading Eligible which was another version of Pride and Prejudice. We got talking and I told her what I wanted to write and she said I should. I mentioned it to my publisher who said I should do it too, I did and this is where we are.

“I absolutely love how it worked and there’s a lot of relief after reading the reviews. It’s scary enough writing a book, let alone one that can be compared to a timeless classic.”

Lizzy is strong and feisty, like many of the female protagonists in Palmer’s books, and meets rich farming magnate Mr Darcy (who owns a farm called Pemberley) at a barn dance.

Palmer, a mother of two teenagers who also competes in speedway racing, said she had always had a good imagination but was terrible at English and left her Narrogin boarding school early.

It was not until she had young children and was running a business with her mum that she started to think of her first book.

“I didn’t have time to read so I created my own story, then started typing it out just to clear my head,” Palmer said.

“A couple of years later I had a book which people read and said I should try to get published. I was so lucky the first people I sent it to found it in their slush pile, read it and offered me a contract.

“It was sudden and random but I love telling stories and sharing them with everyone. Between this and farming, I get the best of both worlds.”

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