To learn more about Dianne, visit her website
Confronting, amusing and compelling, this is a story about choices and how they shape who we become.
There is good love and bad love. Good sex and bad sex. And sometimes it's hard to know the difference.
Paediatrician and mother Mia Sandhurst is scraping to keep her marriage together after her husband of 25 years breaks her heart. Finally facing reality, Mia embarks on a series of outlandish new behaviours to make startling discoveries about herself, love and life.
But the lies and betrayal Mia endures are nothing compared to those of her 15 year old patient, Rachel Hooper.
Set on the magical coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, WHAT MATTERS MOST is a story of love, family, misplaced loyalty and how our choices shape who we are.
My Review of this book:
I stayed up late last night to finish reading Dianne Maguire's compelling debut What Matters Most. This book had me hooked from the first page. The story of horrendous family secrets, betrayal, hope and resilience. I loved the tone of the narrator's voice, it had a wise, compassionate observer's feel to it, much like Anita Shreve and Jodi Picoult. What fascinated me most about this story was that the climax came quite early in the book but I just couldn't put it down until I'd finished the last page because I was so invested in the outcome of the protagonists who are achingly loveable. What Matters Most is a masterpiece. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm waiting eagerly to see what Dianne Maguire gives us next.
About Dianne Maguire:
When I was a teenager we rescued a chestnut mare from a run down riding school. Her name was Duchess. She evolved from an emaciated fearful creature to a gymkhana and show-jumping winner and she and I learned together the meaning of determination and overcoming fear. (Those show jumps are eye-wateringly huge close up.)
Duchess still holds a special place in my heart. In fact I cried when I came across this photo. But as I grew into an adult, Duchess became my sister’s horse and I took on the business of earning an income. My love of words and shorthand bolstered my secretarial skills. My ability to write gave the necessary edge for good grades as a social work student. And as a social work practitioner in child welfare and protection I relished case notes, reports and policies, jumping at any opportunity to write while others grumbled. This was also the time when the building-blocks of stories began to take shape in my mind like pyramids in a desert.
When I became a mother I gained new insights into my own childhood and into life and children in general. Parenthood also reinforced the vulnerability and preciousness of children, particularly when they are our own. My stories began to flourish then with extra passion and poignancy.
Once our son grew and work commitments slowed a little (I will always be working at something) I studied professional writing at the Adelaide College of the Arts. So began my debut novel, ‘What Matters Most’. At the same time I won the first writing competition I entered. This created an alarmingly false sense of confidence, speedily shattered by three publishers’ rejections for ‘What Matters Most’.
Then I learned through Fiona McIntosh’s Master Class precisely how to write a novel that publishers and readers would love.
My passion for words and writing, the grit and determination taught to me by my beloved Duchess and life in general, including life as a parent, and my lovely publishing contract with HarperCollins means I am now able to share my stories.
I want to do justice to the children who are my inspiration. And to ensure at the same time that each of these children do not recognise their story within mine. And when my readers close my books and ponder what they have read, I want to be certain they will do so with a sense of joy and abundant hope.
An interview with Dianne Maguire:
Where did the inspiration for this book come from?
‘What Matters Most’ was inspired by two women – a close friend who faced a marriage breakdown in probably the worst way anyone could. And a young woman I met during my years in child protection and who was betrayed, wittingly and unwittingly, by several people she should have been able to trust. Of course I have changed details to ensure their privacy and I’ve written my own endings, but without doubt it was their stories that inspired my debut novel.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Oh Tess, it took ages... six years to be exact, but that’s because I wrote and rewrote it so many times I lost count. I wrote it in first person and third, in present tense and past. I wrote it as a romance and as crime fiction. Then after Fiona McIntosh’s Masterclass I rewrote it yet again in six short months. And this time I loved it. Two months later I signed a publishing contract with HarperCollins Australia.
My second novel, another story I have simply had to tell, is due out this year and took six months to write from go to whoa.
Is ‘What Matters Most’ part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
I always write with a sequel in mind, so it was pleasing to have so many readers and critics say there were no bits left dangling in ‘What Matters Most’. Having said that, many readers have told me they would love to follow one of the characters into adulthood and have encouraged me to write a sequel –so I may do just that.
Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
Both my novels to date have a mix of city and coastal settings. Any stretch of coastline is magical but to me the Fleurieu Peninsula is especially inspirational because I spend my holidays there. It’s like going to paradise without getting on a plane. The haunting beauty of the sea and dunes, olive orchards, almond groves and vineyards stretching out of sight and some of the world’s best wineries and restaurants provide a richness of choice for my characters to live, love and play.
How have your family/friends/work mates reacted to your book. Does anybody think it's about them??
This question made me laugh out loud because so many of my male friends have shamelessly asked if they are in my books. My women friends never ask –the guys frequently do! Friends and family who have inspired my characters either in full or part usually know who they are. My family and friends –and that includes bloggers and fellow authors like you Tess, Susan Murphy, Samantha Napier, Deborah Disney and Carla Caruso have encouraged and praised beyond belief. I love you all.
How did you go about researching the settings and scenarios in your book?
‘What Matters Most’ required a great deal of face-to-face consultation with doctors, paramedics and psychologists. In addition, as luck would have it, at one stage I was loaded into an ambulance after tumbling down some stairs (I was wearing stilettos and checking phone messages at the time). This was fortuitous because I was able to take notes and photos to inform the opening paragraph of ‘What Matters Most’ which... you guessed it.... takes place inside an ambulance.
For my next book I’ve had the best of times consulting with a brilliant senior female police officer and an expert on the autism spectrum. I also scared myself half to death by walking down a creepy laneway in the deep of night... all in the name of research.
What tricks do you have to beat writer’s block?
When I get writer’s block I know I’m flogging a dead horse or heading towards a dead end so I usually take a few steps back. Or I turn the story in another direction. Failing that I take a stroll along the beach. It works every time.
Do you write with a plan or do you see where the story takes you?
I never know the endings of my stories until my characters reveal them. Before I start writing I will have researched to the point of feeling confident about any technical content. I will also have formed a vague outline of the story and characters in my head and on butcher’s paper, which is enough to give the story some structure but not sufficient to prevent my characters from taking on a life of their own as I write each chapter.
What is your favourite motivational phrase or quote?
When the going gets tough the tough get going.
Your first kiss - who, what, when, where, how old were you, are you still in touch?
At 14 I was the only one in my group who had not been kissed (even though I had spent many hours practising on my mirror). Then during my best friend’s birthday party a boy called Grant asked me to dance. I had never met him before. It was a slow dance and within the first minute he had kissed me. I remember feeling totally underwhelmed but most of all I remember great excitement among my friends. Many years later I discovered my so-called friends had cajoled Grant into kissing me because they were afraid I couldn’t make it happen on my own and that I would be confined to virginal spinsterhood for life.
And to finish...
I love reading your newsletter Tess. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute. There’s a brilliant video trailer by Gordon Napier of my first book on my FB page (facebook.com/diannemaguireauthor) and on my web-site (www.diannemaguireauthor.com.au).
Please like my page btw. Love your work gorgeous Tess.... over and out.