10 Year Anniversary of the Black Saturday Fires
With her sharp eye for human foibles, bestselling Australian author Fiona Lowe returns with a distinctly Australian story of every day people fighting for themselves, their families and their town...
When a lethal bushfire tears through Myrtle, nestled in Victoria's breathtaking Otway Ranges, the town's buildings – and the lives of the residents – are left as smouldering ash.
For three women in particular, the fire fractured their lives and their relationships…
Eighteen months later, with the flurry of national attention long past, Myrtle stands restored, shiny and new. But is the outside polish just a veneer? Community stalwart Julie thinks tourism could bring back some financial stability to their little corner of the world and soon prods Claire, Bec and Sophie into joining her group. But the scar tissue of trauma runs deep…
As each woman exposes her secrets and faces the damage that day wrought, a shocking truth will emerge that will shake the town to its newly rebuilt foundations…
Fiona Lowe has been on the edge of bushfires in many ways over the years – with one close call, time working in the burns unit of the Alfred Hospital and seeing friends and family affected by the flames. As a previous family support worker, Fiona understands the impact of trauma and stress on families and carers. Fiona explains "For many Australians, bushfires are a part of life, but we often only hear about the immediate aftermath of the fire. I wanted to explore the community 18 months after the fire, when the national spotlight has vanished, the buildings have been restored, and the bureaucrats are saying 'you're good to go now'… Only, they're not good to go. Scars run deep. It takes years and years for a community to recover from a devastating fire and that's a message I wanted to share". Fiona read Royal Commission transcripts, visited fire affected areas and heard lots of personal accounts from fire survivors as research for this book. She also read studies on family violence in fire affected areas.
Fiona Lowe has been a midwife, a sexual health counsellor and a family support worker - an ideal career path for an author who writes novels about family and relationships. A recipient of the prestigious USA RITA award and the Australian RUBY award, Fiona's books are set in small country towns, feature real people facing difficult choices and explore how family ties and relationships impact our decisions. Fiona spent her early years in Papua New Guinea where, without television, reading was her best form of entertainment – inevitably leading to a lifelong love of books. Home Fires follows the success of her debut commercial fiction hits Daughter of Mine (2017) and Birthright (2018). Fiona Lowe lives in Geelong, Victoria.
Author: Fiona Lowe
Interview with Fiona Lowe
Question: How much of your inspiration came from the Black Saturday fires?
Fiona Lowe: The inspiration for this book has probably been percolating since Ash Wednesday in 1983. But it was the Christmas Day fires at Wye River in 2015, when people had to leave their turkey on the table and flee their homes, that prompted me to start writing Home Fires.
Question: Why was it important for you to capture the grief caused by bush fires?
Fiona Lowe: Bush fires and grief go hand in hand. When someone's home is threatened and/or their lives, it is a very traumatic experience. To write a novel about the impact of a bush fire on a community and to ignore the grief would be a gross betrayal of anyone who has lived through a natural disaster.
Question: There are several issues raised in this book. Was this deliberate or did the story evolve this way?
Fiona Lowe: This was deliberate. Although a group of people can be affected by the same natural disaster, their experiences will differ and therefore so will their responses. Some people lost their home, some lost loved ones, some had the miracle of the fire not touching their house but watching it burn down their neighbour's home. I wanted to explore the many and varied experiences and how that impacts on recovery.
Question: What do you hope readers take from Home Fires?
Fiona Lowe: The almighty power of women supporting women and that out of the ashes of a devastating fire, there is hope that can be nurtured until it is robust again.
Question: What's next, for you?
Fiona Lowe: I'm working on my next novel, Not That Kind Of Woman (working title), which will be out in March 2020.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Author: Fiona Lowe