Helen FitzGerald is one of thirteen children and grew up in country Victoria. After graduating with honours in English and History she left Australia to go travelling, meeting and marrying Scots-Italian journalist, Sergio Casci, along the way. They live in Glasgow and have two children.
When did you start writing?
When I was heavily pregnant with my second child. During my maternity leave, I became worried about returning to my job as a probation and parole officer: the idea of doing home visits to serious sex offenders seemed ludicrous. Also, I think there's something about having babies that makes you think you can do anything. Before then, I'd been afraid of failing, I think.
Who or what was the biggest inspiration for you to become a writer?
Sergio, my husband. He'd been screenwriting for a few years by the time I started and I remember thinking: if he can do it, then I can too! Also, I'd been reading his scripts every night and reading the screenwriting books he was reading, so I'd learnt a lot along the way.
If you had to recommend everyone to read just one book what would it be?
Madame Bovary. If ever I feel life is getting boring, Flaubert helps me get things back in perspective.
Where do you do your writing?
Serge and I have an office each in the attic. We work when the kids are at school, yelling questions at each other every now and again like: "Is floral wallpaper in fashion?" or "What's the best way to dissolve a body?"
When you're not writing what do you do?
I've been a probation and parole officer in Glasgow for over ten years. For the last two and a half I've been based in the social work unit in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow. A very scary place, but with loads of raw material. On the brighter side, I spend the summers in Sergio's native Tuscany and also help my sister-in-law with her holiday rental business, Tuscan Rentals.
What's your earliest memory?
Fighting with my little sister, Ria. She got the pink Humpty Dumpty and I got the blue. I still feel angry.
What makes you laugh?
Fart jokes, every time.
What is your proudest moment?
The other day I got really sick in Italy while Serge was away. The kids were unbelievable. Joe held my hand and Anna translated for me in the hospital. I was bursting with admiration for them!
Writing on the Dark Side: Helen Fitzgerald on The Exit