Brisbane writer Fiona Evans explores her deepest insecurities and personal fears in her witty and touching new book, ‘Drink the Wild Air’.
Who is this book for – who should read it?
The mid life career professional who is somehow dissatisfied with life and yearns for more, those struggling to find fulfillment and cope with the daily grind; particularly anyone grappling with body image, depression or still looking for love.
What inspired you to write this book?
In 2008, after I was re-diagnosed with breast cancer, I started to see a psychiatrist. In one of our sessions we were discussing what I wanted to do with my career and how I could live a more fulfilled life. My shrink suggested I go back and think about what I liked to do as a child. I had always loved to write. However in the last 20 years I had only written business-related reports. I started to write about my experience as a cathartic exercise.
I had met so many courageous and inspiring women I decided I wanted to write a book about their stories; I wanted to help other women who were in the same situation as me. However over the next few years Drink the Wild Air morphed into something else completely. It became the story of my personal growth. I then also wrote a separate booklet containing all the useful information regarding breast cancer that I had gathered. This is available as a free download on drinkthewildair.com.au
What can people hope to gain from your book?
I would hope that anyone whose life has been touched by cancer, or who has difficulty with relationships, obesity, body image, depression, stress or self-worth would gain a sense that they are not alone. One reader wrote to me and said, “This is not a book about cancer, this is a story about being a woman. Thank you for sharing yours so openly and honestly as in doing so you have validated mine.” The thought that I might have helped one person eliminates any doubts I might have had about putting everything out there.
What has the response been like?
Humbling and awesome. I was in Lorna Jane one day after doing a radio interview. I was chatting with the store manager and she realised that she had heard me on the radio that morning. She became very excited and told me that she hadn’t been able to get out of the car until the end of the interview as she had been so engrossed by my story. She said “Can I give you a hug?” As I held out my arms she said ”You’ve made my day.” I replied, “And you’ve made mine.”
Another woman wrote to me and said “I’ve been getting in trouble for my anti-social behaviour because I can’t put your book down! …. I’ve stolen what time I can in amongst social activities, kids and trying to get a few hours sleep and I’m already half way through – it’s AMAZING, you are such a great and engaging writer. I’m just speechless at your courage to share your story so intimately with the world. It has made me reflect on my own life and perspective. Thank-you.”
What was your favourite part of writing?
Coming up with chapter titles (this had lots of input from friends over the course of many wines!) and describing the characters, who are of course all real life people (although in same cases I changed their names or any identifying details if they wanted to remain anonymous). It was lovely to be able to write about people as I see them and in doing so to acknowledge how they had inspired and supported me. It was also a lot of fun to be able to laugh at some of my foibles and insecurities. One of my favourite descriptors in Drink the Wild Air is, “Jac has a bosom designed to nurture and is one of those lucky people who never put on any weight in their bum. After loaning her a pair of my jeans, I had to gift them to her as my arse had never looked that good.”
What was your least favourite?
Writing about the day I had the mastectomy and how I broke down in the hospital was certainly the hardest piece to write. It was several months before I could go back to read and edit it.
If you had one message to give what would that be?
You don’t need to wait for a catastrophe to strike in your change your life.