“I’ve just started to flex my muscles”, stated international bestselling author Fiona McIntosh to the audience at Two Wells Bowling Club, referring to her writing career of 28 published books.
The final author event hosted by Two Wells Library, held last Wednesday, was privileged to be selected for a stop on Fiona’s whirlwind national tour, promoting her latest historical romantic-adventure, Nightingale.
Set during World War One, the essence of the story isn’t essentially about war, more so the aftermath of events, the separation, loss and heartbreak of losing loved ones.
Radiating confidence and enthusiasm for her work, Fiona took her captivated audience on an enjoyable, and at times hilarious, journey of how she herself as an author of the historical fiction genre, goes about crafting her stories, from the initial idea, to the research, actual writing and then editing of the final manuscript.
After moving to Australia from her homeland of England at the age of 19, Fiona was working in P.R. and marketing for the Northern Territory in Alice Springs, which is where she met, fell in love with, and married Australian Ian McIntosh.
Her life as an author began at age 39. She had toyed with the idea of writing a book for some time whilst raising her twin boys, which resulted in her attending a writing course held by Australian literary legend, Bryce Courtenay.
And so ensued a successful foray into the world of literature, whereby she was swiftly picked up by a publishing company and has continued a successful career as a world-renowned author.
It was a tale from Ian’s childhood youth that planted “the seed” for her latest war time offering, however, she approached the telling of a story about an Australian’s experience in Gallipoli with trepidation as she herself is not Australian, and “I didn’t want to offend any Australian with what they held so dear,” she explained.
“I read everything about World War One,” Fiona said as she described her process of researching, “and I cannot write unless I have put my feet on the ground”, she continued, sharing with the mesmerized gathering about her trip to Istanbul, retelling the comical adventures she and husband Ian had whilst researching for ‘Nightingale’.
Emotion took over on Anzac beach, a feeling she described as “potent”, crying the minute that she landed, taking in the historic landscape through blurry eyes.
Readers of Fiona would be well assured that her books have been thoroughly researched, generally a year in the making.
Once the hard yards of research is complete and she feels educated and competent on a subject, she lets the characters and writing take her on an uncharted course “I write very organically based on mood”, she said, “I write with no plan”.
And she keeps herself very busy, “I’m like a little hamster on the wheel, constantly on the move,” she explained, generally having three books on the go at any one time, either researching, editing or writing, due to the fact that commercial fiction works at a very fast pace.
Fiona also proudly boasts the success of her McIntosh Commercial Fiction Master class (originally run under the guidance of Bryce Courtenay who then handed the ‘baton’ over to Fiona), a five-day intensive writing course designed to facilitate the work of aspiring writers and ‘propel’ them into professional writing careers.
Jenny Dowling, avid reader and member of the Two Wells Book Club, offered a sincere compliment from the audience, “I have read most of your books and I love them.”
Confidence in her work was reflected by the book sales later on in the day and Fiona’s status as ‘best-seller’ was reinforced as many of her titles were being carried out afterwards.
Newly re-elected Mayor, Duncan Kennington, presented Fiona with a box of local produce and graciously thanked her for her appearance.
Two of her books were then raffled off as lucky door prizes, and afternoon tea was enjoyed whilst Fiona signed books and mingled with already established and newly acquired fans.