Fiona McDonald interview with David Alan Binder

posted May 31, 2016, 6:02 AM by David Alan Binder

Fiona McDonald interview with David Alan Binder

 Introducing my first author from Australia and I am up to 8 countries and 38 USA states.

 Bio from Creative Writers:      Fiona McDonald studied at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, Australia’s oldest private art school. While she was trying to forge a career as an artist she studied Italian and English literature at university.

Studying literature brought Fiona back to her love of reading and the idea that she wanted to write and illustrate books herself.

She now has an eclectic selection of titles published ranging from craft books, through social history and a children’s novel.

Fiona runs a toy shop, Granny Fi’s Toy Cupboard, where she sells her handmade dragons.  [Her shop website-very basic but contact information is there if you desire:]





Good Reads:





1.     Where are you currently living?

I live in my hometown of Armidale, on the New England Tablelands in NSW Australia


2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

You need to keep writing after rejection. Do take criticism from respected sources; ignore that from people who know less than you do. Keep writing after success too.


3.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

Hmmm, this is tricky; perhaps it is my ability to work fast and to any brief. I love doing my own work but I do love the boundaries set by someone else. And I don’t believe in taking too long making something.


4.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

a.     Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?


I have several publishers: Search Press, UK, The History Press, UK, Pen&Sword, UK, Sky Horse Publishing, NY, Sky Pony Press, NY, Random House, Australia and Christmas Press, Australia.


5.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Personally, I hate reading eBooks. I like to be able to have a finger in one part of a book and be able to flip back or forward through it. I also love the smell and feel of books. However, I have been working on several projects for the university here that involves interactive eBooks. There are lots of problems to be solved.


6.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?      

Follow the publisher’s submission guidelines to the letter! Be concise in your query letter, don’t be silly or flippant. Don’t waffle; don’t tell them that family members or friends enjoyed the book. Keep it professional.


7.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I’d been writing for years. I had not had any success so I put the whole thing on hold. I also design and make toys. I had been working on some sophisticated knitted doll patterns. I bought a copy of Writers and Artists Yearbook, UK and Australia. I looked through it marking possible agents and publishers. I sent off three brief queries to different agents about a knitted doll book with two pictures attached. Only one responded, Creative Authors, UK. Isabel Atherton became my agent and I quickly got four knitting book commissions. I then asked her if there were any other books in the offing and she got me a non-fiction title: A History of Textiles. Since then I have written 11 books, only one is a children’s novel, which is what I really want to write most of all.


8.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Write when you want to but also write when you don’t want to. Do not wait for inspiration to fall on your head. It won’t. You have to make writing your craft and that takes hard work like any art skill.

Read lots of books of all types. Edit, edit, edit. Don’t be afraid of cutting excess words, scenes anything that doesn’t really fit your story.

Go to workshops and classes.

9.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I learnt that what I really love, maybe above writing, is research.

10.                        How many books have you written? 

I have written: 4 knitting books, 4 social history books, a how to make fairy gardens book, and a children’s novel.


11.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? 

Practice makes perfect. This is also what I tell my young music students. I don’t think they believe me but it’s so true. You have to have the passion to do it first though. Without that writing is nothing but a chore.


12.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

Write for yourself first. I like to have a rough guide of where I am going with my story but you can be writing along and suddenly something will happen that you didn’t expect, even though it’s your fingers tapping away on the keyboard. Let your story take a new direction if it wants. You can always scrap it later if it isn’t working.

13.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

The voice I write with. I have no trouble choosing a voice when writing fiction. The piece just chooses it for you. Nonfiction is trickier and it is something I am still working hard to sort out. You need an interested voice but without bias I think.


14.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

Facebook! First and foremost. I tried twitter but there is too much happening and you get lost.


I also take any opportunity, such as doing this interview, to get the word out there about my work.


I have done book fairs, given workshops, talks at schools, things like that. I should be doing more but it is difficult with things like work?(yes, I have to have a day job) and looking after my elderly mother whose health is declining.


15.                        What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I would have started all of this much, much sooner. I wouldn’t have let those first twenty rejection letters have got me down. I would have been pushier and worked harder at honing my skills.


16.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

Blimey, I haven’t a clue! No, that’s not what I would have. I guess it would have to be: Stop faffing around and just do it!


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