20 February 2024

Temora gets wrapped up in rural suspense ahead of author Fleur McDonald's arrival

| Chris Roe
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author and book

West Australian rural suspense writer Fleur McDonald’s novel Voices in the Dark is the focus of One Book One Temora. Photos: Supplied.

Bestselling Aussie author Fleur McDonald is looking forward to her upcoming visit to the Riverina, where a town-full of readers have been working their way through her latest rural mystery, Voices in the Dark.

One Book One Temora gets dozens of locals to read the same novel over the summer before spending an evening with the author in March.

“I think it’s such a wonderful concept and a great way of bringing people together and talking about the same story,” Fleur said.

“I think that there’s real community in that.”

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Despite having more than 20 books to her name, Fleur said she still had to push back against the misconception that she wrote romance.

“I’m not a fan of romance,” she said, describing her work as “rural suspense”.

“I’ve been through an awful domestic violence relationship. I’m more happy with murder and mayhem than I am with anything else.”

Temora Library manager Wendy Manning said Fleur’s unique brand of mystery novels was “consistently popular” with residents in the region.

“Even outside of work, people always want to talk to me about her books,” she said.

“Now that they know she’s coming, the whole town seems to be excited about reading her books.”

woman leaning against ute on dirt road

Fleur McDonald loves to celebrate rural Australia through her work.

A farmer herself with 5000 hectares in rural Western Australia, Fleur’s writing is rooted in the land and celebrates the people of the bush amid the “murder and mayhem”.

“What I put into the books that has resonated with me are the places that I live and the places that I love and the theme of the Australian country,” she said.

“So many times I have people come to me saying, I thought I could recognise this person from this particular town – and while I don’t really know those people, I think that I’ve managed to do my job well if I can create characters that people can recognise and that aren’t otherwise represented.”

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Voices in the Dark also highlights the lack of aged care in rural communities and the difficulties of accessing in-home care for the elderly in isolated areas.

“Until you live in a country area, you’ve got no idea about what services there are there,” Fleur said.

“‘Friends of mine have elderly parents who have had to move 700 km away to a nursing home in Perth.

“That lady has lived in a town for 57 years and suddenly she’s upended at a time when she’s got dementia and everything’s really scary for her.”

book cover

Detective Dave has been a recurring character in Fleur McDonald’s books.

While strong rural women are the focus of most of Fleur’s work, Voices in the Dark also features her most popular recurring male character.

“Detective Dave Burrows is a character that I’ve had ever since book one and, 22 books on, everybody seems to love him,” she laughed.

“Whenever I talk about my books, we always spend a fair bit of time talking about Detective Dave and, even though he’s imaginary, people feel that he’s almost a friend and have their own ideas on what he looks like.”

While Dave’s fictional face may be a mystery, various covers have featured his firm buttocks filling out a pair of Levis and bare, muscular forearms.

“He’s very lucky to be as well known by his bum as what he is,” she laughed, conceding that the artwork may be adding to the romance perception.

Fleur McDonald is appearing at Temora Library on Friday, 8 March, from 6:30 pm and promises a lively Q&A hosted by Melissa Fattore from Mel Reviews Her Books.

“There’s usually lots of laughs and some serious conversations, too, about some of the topics in my books,” Fleur said.

“And of course, there’s always a mystery to be solved.”

For more information or tickets, visit the events page of the Riverina Regional Library website.

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