Apple Island Wife - Slow Living in Tasmania by Fiona Stocker, paperback and ebook, pub Unbound 2018. Non-fiction biography/memoir. Available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com.au and other online retailers. Available to order in UK bookshops. Amazon.co.uk reviews x 14 average 4.8/5 stars.
Apple Island Wife is a travel memoir in the style of A Year in Provence, and Driving Over Lemons. It is a loving evocation of Tasmania and of a new, slower age and way of living dreamt of by many in the modern world. Written during the author's first five years living on five acres in northern Tasmania, it was picked up by UK publisher Unbound and released in December 2018.
Since then it has ranked consistently in Australia & Oceania Travel, Travel Essays & Travelogues, and Travel Writing Reference in Australia, reaching #1 bestseller multiple times, and in Australia Travel Guides in the UK.
Apple Island Wife is Fiona Stocker's first memoir, and her second book. It was serialised in online book club The Pigeonhole during which it was read by readers in the UK, South Africa, Europe and India. It has received magazine coverage in the UK and been featured on the ABC's Country Hour program and the Rural Report in Australia.
Author Bio - Fiona Stocker
Author Fiona Stocker lives in the West Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania with her husband, two children, a retired sheepdog and around forty-five pigs. She and her husband run a farm and food business, Langdale Farm, retailing product from stalls at an award winning farmers market. They also offer farmstay accommodation.
Fiona was born in Adelaide, Australia to northern Irish parents who returned to the UK when Fiona was two. She was raised on the coast of Lancashire, and lived in the Netherlands, the UK Midlands and London before returning to Australia on a whim in 1998.
Apple Island Wife - Book Synopsis
What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who’s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis? In search of a good life and a slower pace, the Stocker family upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt. Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona Stocker jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.
She also considered the way we women define ourselves, as wives and mothers, and our quest for meaningful occupation. The book has chapters on being fitted for a bra, choosing a dog, and midwifing for a grumpy alpaca. It captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising a family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an every-woman’s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.
If you enjoyed Peter Mayle's Year in Provence you will love this book. Tracey, Amazon.co.uk
Apple Island Wife is both heart-warming and hilarious. Filled with raw, honest real-life accounts of trying to attain the good life fuelled with a pioneering spirit and a positive attitude. Compulsive reading for anyone who has ever thought they are not living the life they should! Steven Lamb, River Cottage
"Fiona Stocker is funny, really funny. She is also a beautiful writer with an eye for the telling little details. I just loved this book." Pip Courtney, ABC Landline "Tasmania was the world’s best-kept secret. This book will send it viral. Curse you, Fiona Stocker!" Chris Champion, Tasmania 40°South magazine
Why did you write this book?
When we moved here to rural Tasmania I had two young children, a baby and a toddler, and knew nobody. I was very worried about being isolated and so far from family. As it happens, rural communities are incredibly friendly and supportive and I had nothing to worry about - we made friends very quickly. But I missed writing, which I had always done at work. And then two things happened. Somebody gave me a newspaper clipping about blogging, and I set up a blog and began writing about our new life on five acres. And someone else gave me a copy of Chris Stewart's book Driving Over Lemons, and I realised I could be writing that style of travel memoir, one of those delightful, humorous books about and English person abroad in a strange culture.
Who is this book for - is it just a woman's read?
Undoubtedly it is written from a woman's perspective and has plenty in it that women will relate to. That includes matters which are not often written about and perhaps should be - women's experiences of what it's like to be at home with a baby, and even something like breastfeeding which is weird and wonderful. If we don't get the chance to read about these things, it's very hard to tackle them when it comes time. I'm delighted to say that some broad minded men are reading the book too and not batting an eyelid. It is also very much about Tasmania, how we live, and what it means to find yourself at home somewhere. At first glance it might be a series of hilarious stories, but underneath it's an every-woman's story about trying to figure out what we really want in life. Three men in my writers' group said they wouldn't read it because it had the word 'wife' in the title. I was a bit taken aback by that. And then I realised that I think about gender myself when I'm choosing books- the author's gender, the protagonist's gender. But I haven't made a blanket rule about it, and it seems like very reductive thinking on their part. I wrote a post for Medium about that.
Let's make a movie. Give me the high concept pitch.
If anybody wants to make a movie of my book, I don't want to be involved other than to have a director's chair on set and be paid a lot for the option rights. Somebody should write a part for Meryl Streep - perhaps she could play my mother-in-law? And Oliver could be played by Daniel Craig, in which case I'd like to have a cameo role playing myself.
Name some writers who have inspired you.
It all started with Bruce Chatwin, whose writing I remember as being awe-inspiring and also quite waffly and self-indulgent. But what a life. He was an explorer, a lover of life and all its strange places and underdogs. He believed that humans are essentially nomadic and shouldn't go to the same place and do the same work every day. When I was in London working for an oil company and having the soul sucked from my body, I related to that. He has influenced my life rather than my writing. I look to Bill Bryson for that special mix of gentle reflection and high humour. Chris Stewart is the master of writing about other people and their ordinary habits with deep respect and a naive sort of wonder which I think is something very precious to hang onto in this world. And strangely I still look back at Dirk Bogard's memoirs about his house in France for a sense of place and how deeply somewhere can get into your soul.
Do you have an idea for your next book?
The sequel is already drafted - Saddleback Wife. The story of setting up a small farm business, growing pigs and producing pork. An insight into what it's really like being a farmer (bloody hard) and being on the inside inside of the counter in a meat-eating consumer society in which a lot of people never really think about where their meat, or other food, is coming from. I'd probably never go vegan but I completely understand the ethics.
Route to Publication
Apple Island Wife is produced by Unbound, the world's first crowdfunding publisher. Unbound is the creation of three writers who started the company because they believed there had to be a better deal for both writers and readers. On the Unbound website, authors share the ideas for the books they want to write directly with readers. If enough people support the book by pledging for it in advance, Unbound produce a special subscribers’ edition and distribute a regular edition and e-book wherever books are sold, in shops and online.
This new way of publishing is actually a very old idea (Samuel Johnson funded his dictionary this way). Unbound is just using the internet to build each writer a network of patrons. Publishing in this way means readers are no longer just passive consumers of the books they buy, and authors are free to write the books they really want. They get a much fairer return too – half the profits their books generate, rather than a tiny percentage of the cover price. Unbound has now published almost 350 books in this way, with the help of over 150,000 supporters.
Fiona Stocker is the second author based in Australia to have been published by Unbound. As of early 2019, she is working with them and a Tasmanian based distributor to bring print runs of the paperback Apple Island Wife to Tasmania and the Australian mainland.
I really enjoy memoirs of this sort. This is a particularly fine one. The Average Reader, Amazon UK
Apple Island Wife is a celebration of Tasmania itself. The land, the people, the mountains and the valleys are brought alive in Stocker's narrative. If you want to know why I love Tassie so much, read this book. Also buy your own, I'm not lending mine. Shilpa, Mumbai
I adored this book. It was warm, funny and beautifully written. Helen, Goodreads
A wonderful non-fiction read. I thoroughly recommend this if you enjoy being transported to another part of the world without leaving your armchair. NickiMags, Amazon UK
Warm, funny and inspiring. I don’t often laugh out loud when reading a book but this one had me chuckling many times - and I can’t wait for the next one. As someone who has visited and enjoyed Tasmania it made me want to go again. Thoroughly recommended. Mr Hodson, Amazon UK
An absolutely delightful look at a family's move into a slower lifestyle. Fiona's humorous viewpoint makes life's problems bearable, and has now entertained many others. Her writing style is easy and honest. Her description of going shopping for bras had me in stitches, and I encourage everyone to read this book, and especially men. It's for everyone, and I really think it gives insight into life, and, gentlemen, maybe into the women in your lives. Di, Goodreads
This charming tale was a delightful telling of growth and discovery, relatable for any woman who has ever made a decision and questioned whether they were truly equipped for the change. Lindsey, Canada
This is a charming read reminiscent of Toujours Provence, A Beer in the Loire and Under the Tuscan Sun. It is better than a travel guide as it recounts the first-hand experiences of people who moved and still remain there and most importantly, puts Tasmania on the map. If you want to laugh, again and again, but at the same time learn a thing or two about a destination not often publicised, you will love this story. Pheadra, South Africa
I absolutely loved this book. Its gentle humour, real life and fascinating characters and intriguing story of a family finding its way in a whole new setting, lifestyle and country. Fiona and her family have embraced rural country life down in Tasmania and are actually living the dream. I previously knew absolutely nothing about Tasmania so I found this a very interesting insight into what is obviously a very beautiful and interesting country. Amelia, Dorset, England
This book was full of wonderful people, stunning countryside and great humour. Tasmania has now been elevated in my list of places to visit. Gail, The Pigeonhole
Memoirs can be a tricky thing. I can honestly say this is one of those times you should take the chance and grab a copy of Apple Island Wife as you won’t be disappointed. Mandie, England