Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Christine Gardner. I’m 65!
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in New South Wales, Australia, in the small town of Wentworth, and grew up mostly across the border in Victoria. Since I married we’ve moved around the country quite a bit, lived in four different states. Not because we had to, just because we wanted to. We’ve been in Central Victoria for nearly 30 years now and aren’t likely to move far.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a country girl, although I did live in Sydney for a year as a teenager and a few months in Melbourne. Long enough to know I prefer the country. I was pretty good at school but left at 15, which was what most of us did then. There was little point in going on to year 11 if your family couldn’t afford university. Not that I had any inclination, to be honest. I had quite a few different jobs, some in retail, most in office work. I did eventually go to university, at the age of 50, and loved it!
I’m the mother of five boys and grandmother of four boys. When my youngest started school I decided I would too. I started with a visual arts course and went on to a Diploma of Arts in Writing and Editing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My latest novel, ‘The Letter’, which took me ages to write, is a tribute of sorts, to my ancestors who came to Australia from all over the UK and Ireland for a better life. I am very interested in family history and I wanted to imagine what it might have been like for some of those early settlers.
I’ve also decided to use my editing skills again—I did some freelance editing before I started writing myself and I’m now offering my services, to Australian writers only for now. I’m also working on a new novel, which will be both historical and contemporary—something supernatural.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved to read and to write, but I don’t think it really occurred to me that I could actually write novels, until I met a writer who was a neighbour of mine and also a mum whose kids went to the same school as my kids. It was years after that I actually started writing but I think that’s where the seed was planted.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a really tricky question. What is a writer? Someone who writes or someone who makes a living writing? I don’t know. Maybe when I won a competition for a short story years ago? Or when I actually sold copies of my first book on lulu? Perhaps when I sold a few thousand on Amazon. I only know I am a writer, even if I never sell another book.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first books were kids’ books and began as part of the course I was doing at TAFE (I think that’s something like community college in USA). My first effort outside that was a young adult novel, ‘Sanctuary’, which grew from a documentary I saw on TV. There were teenagers living underground—I think it was part of an old subway—and one of them was carrying a baby. I started thinking about a world where people had to spend their lives underground and it became a pretty good story, I think. One of my favourites. All of my books since then have been for adults but I know a lot of adults enjoy ‘Sanctuary’ as well.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It was a while ago now but I think it was just logical. That’s what it was about.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I think my style is to keep it simple and tell the story, through the characters. As far as genres go, I’ve written true crime, historical fiction, fantasy (kids), Sci-fi (YA), horror, and romance. They all have challenges. Because I love history and also because I do have a Bachelor of Arts in History, most of my books have some historical factor and I spend ages researching.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My romance series set in the Australian outback has some bits and pieces I may have borrowed from various people’s lives, including my own, but it’s more the settings.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’m old enough that I have been to a few places, although I’ve only been overseas once. My novels are set in Australia, mostly in places I’ve been to, or otherwise researched.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’ve designed most of my covers myself. ‘The Letter’, while my design, was a collaboration with my artist daughter-in-law. I had a fiverr designer to do the lettering.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I’ll assume we’re talking about ‘The Letter’, since it’s my latest, but I just want readers to enjoy my novels. If they find a message, good for them.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favourite childhood writer was Enid Blyton and my favourite writer as an adult was Stephen King, for the same reason. I never knew what would happen next. I don’t have a favourite now—I read whatever I think looks interesting—sometimes I’m disappointed and sometimes I’m not.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My friend, Kaye, who was my neighbour and still lives in the same town, and still writes lots of wonderful novels.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It’s somewhere between a career and a hobby for me. Since I’m self-published I have the freedom to write what I want and when I want.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
That I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about life on the goldfields in the 19th century, despite studying it at university! One thing I found particularly interesting was that Indigenous Australian men worked as troopers on the goldfields.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
No idea. I’ve cast the characters in my first adult book, ‘The Inheritance’, in my head thoroughly but I don’t tend to do that so much now.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
While I’m not great at following my own advice, it would be ‘write, every day. Just write something. Preferably around the same time of day—just make it a routine.’
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for reading my stories. I love sharing them and it’s great if you leave a review and let me know if you enjoyed the read.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Just finished ‘Willow Tree Bend’, by Kaye Dobbie.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No. I know I read a lot of Enid Blyton,and when I got a bit older lots of those books about girls, Little Women and so on. My parents were both avid readers and my older sister and I were as well—she always bought me books for my birthday.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My kids, who are aged between 30 and 43 now, still make me laugh, especially when we can get them all together. I cry pretty readily at movies or even Facebook posts, usually about people being amazing.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Pretty hard to narrow it down to one, but I’ll say my 4xgreat grandmother, who came out from England in 1860 with her hubby and several kids. He was a ‘gentleman builder’ and eventually became Lord Mayor of Sydney. I have a copy of a journal she started and he completed and the most interesting part to me was his references to the help she gave him in that role.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Um, writing? Reading.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m one of the millions of fans of Game of Thrones. Love dragons and fantasy.Also Vikings. I normally like movies with a good story but occasionally I enjoy a blockbuster that just looks great.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favourite food is what I feel like at any given time. Love a good casserole or pasta in winter and a nice salad when it’s hot. I think Italian food is probably my favourite overall. Colours—depends what they’re for, but I’ll say cherry red, violet and royal blue.
I grew up in the 60s and still love music from that era. I saw the Rolling Stones in Sydney when I was 13, so that was a huge influence. I do like some more recent stuff as well, but since my youngest son has been performing in musical theatre that’s become my favourite.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read. Maybe paint.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Much loved wife, mother and grandmother. The rest doesn’t really matter.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
FREE Book I of my Red Dust series: https://www.amazon.com/Stony-Creek-Red-Dust-Book-ebook/dp/B00GP42HQ0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8