A Tea break with Mrs B · Interview

A Tea Break with Mrs B: Fleur McDonald

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It is a pleasure to welcome Fleur McDonald to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a author interview series. To help celebrate the release of Something to Hide we sat down for a chat. Thanks Fleur!

What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?

I’m on a bit of a detox at the moment, so boringly, it’s water. However during ‘normality’ (!), depending on the time of day, it would either be a coffee or wine.

Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?

I started writing Red Dust in 2007 and had a contract later that year. When I pitched Red Dust to Allen and Unwin, I was rejected at first. They’d never published anything like that book before and were cautious at it. However, Louise Thurtell is the woman I owe my career too, because the second time I pitched, she fought for the book and a few days afterwards the acquisition meeting, I had a two book contract in my hot little hand! Red Dust was the craziest ride; it was the highest selling novel for a debut author in 2009 and I’ve been forever grateful I came into writing as the second author published after Rachael Treasure’s novel. Jillaroo, which gave me a really strong readership because people were craving the rural lit books.

I’ve written eighteen novels and am contracted until the end of 2022, which is when I’ll reach Book 20 – which seems completely bizarre!

My career is wholly and solely based around readers, because without them, I wouldn’t be able to write.

How different was the experience of writing Something to Hide, compared to your previous releases?

I don’t think anything could compare to last year’s release of Red Dirt Country when we’d all just gone into lockdown! Still, this year I’m doing a few small events and lots of radio and media interviews. It’s quite a peaceful launch while we gear for a big tour in November (COVID willing!)

What kick started the creation of your latest novel, Something to Hide? 

Two of my characters, Bulldust and Scotty have been in the last two ‘Early Dave Burrows’ series and I had to ensure I had a really hard hitting storyline to bring them back again. I spent a lot of time thinking, hanging out in the Kalgoorlie area, which is where part of the book is set and talking to my detective friend who ensures that everything I write is authentic.

The bush around Kalgoorlie is so ‘wild’ and it suits Bulldust and Scotty down to a tee; rule-less and ruthless. Sometimes just sitting out in the middle of the land, with a camp fire is what I need to make the creative juices flow and to come up with a story line.

What issues do you explore in Something to Hide?

I think the main thing, other than detective work, is the relationships between coppers and their partners. I don’t think anyone who isn’t married to a copper could understand how real the fear is, that one day, their loved one might not come home.

Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?

Well, Dave has been with me for so long, I’m not sure really where he came from. As time has gone on, he’d morphed into what I would call a perfect but flawed man and many people seem to love him!

Kim (Dave’s second wife) is based on a friend of mine and the rest of the characters are people who I’d like to be friends with, have a drink with or just hang out with.

That’s the ‘goodies’! The ‘badies’, well they’re a different kettle of fish.

I think about what types of characters frighten me, what people I’ve seen on TV who’ve made me nervous and then I put them together.

Can you give us an insight into the setting base for Something to Hide?

Something to Hide is based around Kalgoorlie in the Goldfields of WA. Barrabine, is in fact, Kalgoorlie. The red dirt and rawness of the country is unsurpassed, and I really love the area around there. The heat, flies and dust are your closest friends and I loved a setting like that to make life uncomfortable!

What key ingredients are essential to crafting a rural crime fiction novel?

I believe not knowing the ending. If I don’t know what’s going to happen, hopefully the readers isn’t going to work it out either, and that keeps the pages being turned.

What is one thing that you hope readers will take away from the experience of reading Something to Hide?

The love of the Australian bush and stories. I don’t think there is any great message in there. All I’ve wanted to do is entertain.

Can you tell us more about your current involvement in supporting aspiring authors?

Between the Pages is a writing course which will help you create a new habit; making time for writing. The 16-day course includes what works for me, little tips and things I’ve learned over the last twelve years and sixteen books. And as all good mystery readers would want, there is a SECRET group that if you buy the course, you’ll be a part of!

Beyond the Pages is a manuscript appraisal and writing development.

Here, you’ll gain valuable feedback and insight into your work before seeking a publisher.

Beyond the Pages is a one on one service that includes:

  • Three Hours of Reading your submitted Manuscript
  • Edited Copy of the First Chapter of your Manuscript
  • Written Critique Report to guide further development

There is no limit to the length of the Manuscript you submit. As much as possible will be read during the three hour period before I start to edit and prepare a critique report on the material that was read.

If your MS is awesome, I’ll send the first twenty pages to my publisher with the intent of feedback and to allow her publisher to assess whether she would like to read more. This is a unique way to get your work in front of a publisher.

When you are not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I’m farming, Secretary for the Australian Women in Agriculture board, Secretary for the Esperance and Agricultural Soc which runs our two-day local show and part of our local Rotary club. I’m an advocate for people who are experiencing domestic and family violence in rural areas and for people who have children with autism.

Walking on the beach, with my kelpie, Jack, and hanging with my friends are two of my other favourite things to do, along with camping and taking photographs.

What book is next on your reading pile?

Oohh, good question… I don’t think you’ve got the time for me to list the titles of the two bookshelves full I have!

BUT! I’m looking forward to An Alice Girl, by Tanya Heaslip (who incidentally is my cousin) and Black Widows by Cate Quinn.

What are you working on writing wise at present?

Book five in the Dave Burrows series, which is due out in April next year. I’m also editing my November 21 book. Keeps me well and truly occupied!

Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Fleur. Congratulations on the release of your new book, Something to Hide.

Thank you!


A riveting new novel of rural suspense from the bestselling Voice of the Outback.With the sickening realisation that his cover has been blown, Detective Dave Burrows knows his family is in serious danger from the vicious stock thieves and murderers, Bulldust and his brother Scotty.

Devastating news brings Dave back to Barrabine, where circumstances force him to question his determination to stay in the police force. How could he live with himself if anything happened to Mel and the kids?

Mel, understandably frightened, must decide who she’ll listen to. Can she trust Dave to handle this threat hanging over their family, or is her father right to argue that she should leave her marriage immediately?

With her acclaimed skill for tension and drama, Fleur McDonald has delivered another richly compelling story in Something to Hide.

Something to Hide by Fleur McDonald was published on 30th March 2021 by Allen and Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.


Connect with Fleur here:

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