Interview with Kirsty O'Callaghan

What's the story behind your latest book?
Latest estimates reveal an alarming percentage of workers in the mining industry, working in fly in fly out (FIFO), are the population most at risk of mental health issues and obesity. Recent reports have highlighted that while the FIFO lifestyle might sound lucrative and glamorous, the stress and strain on families is real, with growing numbers of divorce rates and partners struggling to cope at home.

I help organisations and families navigate their way through the minefield of FIFO life. Having coached and mentored families, individuals and organisations for over a decade, I decided to put together my years of experience in supporting single workers and families to get the most out of their FIFO life and thrive because of it into Separated by Work as there seemed to be no other resource out there like it - and it was needed. The result is a 280-page user friendly, all-inclusive handbook. Filled with real life stories from my clients and proven strategies that work, the book is warm, encouraging and laced with gentle humour. And I should know – I have been a “FIFO” wife for seven years.

I’ve been in a unique position over the last seven years of supporting clients and hearing their stories. Over and over the issues were the same. There was a common thread of uncertainty, change, judgment, and overwhelm through each FIFO story I heard. It became clear to me that letting my clients know they weren’t alone was vital to normalizing their experience. It was cathartic for me as well. I knew it wasn’t just my family that was experiencing struggles and unexpected happenings, especially in the initial stages of FIFO life.

Families aren’t the only ones benefiting from the wisdom –industry is recognizing the value of this new book. Warren Leicester is an International Operations Manager at Downer EDI Mining and has raised a family through and due to FIFO. He said, “I can honestly say we could have stressed less and been happier sooner if we had access to some of the resources and had conversations mentioned in this book. This is an interactive instruction book based on real people and real experiences, not just theory. It provides real tools on how to avoid or work through the challenges we all face with this lifestyle. As an employer in the field and a FIFO survivor, I can strongly recommend this excellent manual to anyone contemplating or in the middle of the FIFO experience.”

I wanted Separated by Work to give readers the tools and encouragement they need to take back control, help themselves and each other through the toughest of times – and be happier for choosing a FIFO lifestyle. Filled with practical tips from leaders in their field, and hands-on exercises for the whole family, I offers a rare insider’s understanding to all aspects of this FIFO life.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I am not writing my time is carefully managed so that I get to give 100% to my business, www.unitywords.com.au, and my clients, 120% to my family and the same to my wonderful friends. I also make sure that I have time for me and my community through jogging, yoga, reading and meditation; and being a Lions Club member.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I used to write a lot of poetry and write in my diary when I was young. It helped me get through a difficult childhood and I found writing was very cathartic - even back then.
What is your writing process?
I get an idea, jot down the streams of information that come through with that idea, then I sit on it for a bit. Adding, changing, sometimes procrastinating. Then one day I sit down and do up a draft of what the chapters or content may look like and I am off and racing.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember reading the series 'Flowers in the Attic'. This is when I truly discovered what it felt like to get lost in a book and want to keep reading under the sheets with a torch.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My five favourite books at present are Last Seen in Lhasa, On Writing Well, Bird by Bird, The Wisdom of Florence Scovel Shinn and anything by P.C. Cast. Last Seen in Lhasa is written by Claire Scobie, my writing mentor and after reading this book I felt inspired and expanded. The same feelings were with On Writing Well and Bird by Bird - and I believe they helped me become a better writer, or at least be reassured that I could write. The Wisdom of Florence continues to be a go to book for me to inspire me when I need lifting up and PC Cast - I just really enjoy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use my iPad for e-reading mostly and my phone next.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I discover ebooks in different ways. Someone may recommend a book, sometimes I will just search my favourite genres, and other times I look a book up after visiting the local library or book store.
Describe your desk
My desk is a old large wooden desk that our friends were going to dump. I had a brilliant idea that we could paint it white and put a large, made to order, piece of glass on the top. It turned out beautifully and has a lot of love put into it. It has the space I need, and I love popping my favourite cards or sayings or photos under the glass.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in many places, we moved often. My father was in the British Navy so we lived in 5 overseas countries before coming to Australia when I was nearly 5. I have seen and experienced many things, and had to overcome a lot of adversity and change - which is quite often reflected in the stories I tell when I write.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I am writing I feel truly absorbed and myself. It is when I feel that I am doing what I am meant to be doing and I love it. I love writing, learning about writing, reading and being amongst writers!
What do your fans mean to you?
I have a yearning to help others. My book, Separated by Work, gives me the opportunity to make a difference for these families and workers. My readers inspire me with their strength and I empathise with their struggles. It means the world to me to put a smile back on their faces again and for them to feel supported and hopefully guided to good choices for their next steps.
Published 2016-02-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Separated by Work
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 54,770. Language: Australian English. Published: February 3, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / General, Nonfiction » Relationships and Family » Family relationships
If you are Separated by Work this book has you covered. Support, understanding and strategies for families, workers and OHS & HR professionals. So many families are overwhelmed, broken and left feeling unsupported and don't know where to turn for help. Kirsty O'Callaghan wrote this comprehensive book to help you survive and thrive while apart.