Interview with Author Fabian Foley

Fabian Foley

I am thrilled to have interviewed author Fabian Foley, who shared with us details of her writing life, her book ‘The Outing‘, which was released on 29th January 2023, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.

Fabian Foley

Fabian Foley is an Australian writer with two grown up children. After several careers as other things, she now writes as she and her husband, Paul, slow-travel in Europe in their home on wheels (aka caravan), exploring fascinating new, old, and ancient places, secluded bays and snow-capped or cloud-covered mountains. Although Australia is ‘home’ she’s been fortunate to live in Thailand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea too.

Apart from writing Fabian Foley enjoys reading and walking (which sometimes unexpectedly turns into hiking), and finding the best pizza outside of Naples (still looking). You can follow her recent travels and adventures on

interview picture 2023


1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

It was at the start of the pandemic. By some miracle after being told we had to leave the UK (Wales to be precise) we ended up at a friend’s house in France gratefully sipping my morning coffee with my laptop open to re-start a novel I’d been working on.

Of course, I first had to check in with the kids in Australia and then check the news headlines. A story grabbed my attention. It was about a suicide from thirty years ago that had just been found to be murder. I recalled more of the original story as I read and then started searching and found other terrible unjustifiable deaths and coverups, and I was moved. Something felt like it was breaking. It was my heart. Breaking for the families and the friends of these men. I was in tears. I know my reaction was also because reading this brought up all my fears for my own son. I felt their loss as if it was mine and the injustice and desolation was so visceral.

I just abandoned the novel I’d been working on and sat with these events and thought about what had been happening in the past and what is still happening now, in other places yes, but also in our enlightened equal opportunity modern and inclusive worlds.

The story sort of took hold based on two people in particular. I’ve provided details and links to their stories in my novel, in the notes to readers. Scott Johnson was a gifted mathematician at Sydney University, an American doing his PhD, his body was found at the bottom of a cliff. Dr George Duncan was a professor at the University in Adelaide. Four police officers threw him into the river and he drowned. The man he was with could swim. George couldn’t, and drowned. No-one was ever charged.

At this time bashing gay men was a macho sport. They were targeted and because being gay was illegal and if a victim went to the police they often suffered the same thing over again at the hands of the police. .

All this made me think about what it would be like growing up in this era as a boy, like my boy, and having these things happen to him.

2) How did you plan the plot?

I started with a notebook and mapped out a kind of hero’s journey. I was actually really pleased. I thought. I’ve got this. You know… that satisfied feeling of having the story you want to tell in segments all lined up waiting for you to fill in the details.
Except that’s not what happened.

In the first chapter of the first draft, everything shifted. It wasn’t my story any more. My Main Character started wanting to take the reigns. In the end I had to say OK Robert, you tell me. What is YOUR story? And he told me.

3) When did you choose the title for your book?

The title for novel came about partway through but It’s hard to remember exactly now. I thought of Robert having to come out after being safe in the suburbs with a wife and a family. I thought of him trying to out the corrupt police. I thought of Johnny trying to convince Robert to come out when they were at university together…

The Outing as a title came to me because it had multiple meanings – outing corruption, outing injustice, outing the baddies, outing yourself and for the reader also outing the past, showing us what’s really been happening. Outing the truth.

4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?

Some just happened. Tank for instance immediately sprang to mind. I could picture him as soon as he appeared. Some because they sounded right for the era and the job and they had a good sound to them. Some because of the Australianisms like Blue and Jimbo fit. I’d let them all roll around in my mind and I’d say them out loud. I also looked things up – Boys’ names in the 1970s for instance. It’s so useful to have a resource like Google.

5) Can you give us a hint to any sections that you removed?

Wow yes…. I had to lose about 1/3 of the original manuscript first draft – about 50,000 words. The back story details were probably more there for me because Robert was telling the story and it all helped me understand everyone and why they did and said things … I had to get all of it down.

Quite a few of the support cast had a lot more story in that early couple of drafts than was really needed for this book. I think in a way, it’s a bit like seeing a Netflix series in your head… there’s things happening to other people and you come back into and out of parts of the story. So Netflix people … I have a bunch more scenes for you if you decide your want to adapt this story for screen.

6) What made you choose this genre?

That’s not so easily answered. The short answer is I didn’t. It was the story that was telling itself and it wasn’t particularly fussy about genre. As I mentioned it started out as a hero’s journey kind of story, morphed into coming of age, and crime/suspense and courtroom drama, perhaps a bit thriller, with a gay main character and quite a few of the support cast. There’s the historical factual elements too.

Honestly, I’m still not sure what genre it is. If anyone can pinpoint it for me I’d be grateful. I think not having it immediately identifiable as a genre wasn’t helpful in trying to get agent representation. I don’t know where it would sit in bookstore shelves – hopefully in the front window and front display table with the other bestsellers. Dream come true!

7) How long did it take you to complete your book?

From idea stage to publishing took three years. Just under really. If I’d had editorial input from a publishing house and had to wait for their release schedule it would have been longer.

Several times I thought it was ready and it wasn’t, and I’m glad I held off, rewrote and rewrote again (and again) and finally letting it sit before taking that big next step to publishing. It’s a better book – in my opinion.

8) Can you describe your book in three words?

Tough!! I thought doing a synopsis or a blurb was difficult.

But thinking on it… Love Justice Truth – I have a beautiful quote from Martin Luther King Jr in the dedication page which kind of sums up Robert’s story..

9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

That’s easy… second-guessing yourself. I’m always questioning if this is OK, is this the best way, should I have said this another way, is it clear enough, is it confusing, what can I do to make it better, say it better… and the structure. Robert’s story was clear but presenting in the best way … sometimes that’s hard.

10) Why should our readers pick your book up?

Oh – I want people to want to know what it’s like to live as Robert lived. To understand him by being ‘in his shoes’ – but that doesn’t answer your question.

Your cisgender readers should pick up my book because it’s an emotional moving but also pacy suspenseful and realistic immersion into a life that’s different in a time that’s different, but also still ‘sort-of’ here. And also when they empathise and identify with Robert as a person, judgment and labels and preconceptions seem to disappear.

Your LGBTQIA+ plus reader get the same deal but will also hopefully get a feel for the past. How things evolved. What their predecessors, so to speak, went through and hopefully feel pride in and gratitude for those people like Robert who helped set the foundations for change. And for some of the older ones, I want them to have a feeling of vindication – that there were and are people who care and acknowledge them. They had a lot to deal with and overcome and their story should be told. And of course, history has a way of repeating itself when we forget to remember it.

As you can see I’m passionate about the book.

Boiling it down. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, it’s emotional without indulgent navel-gazing. There’s suspense and drama and conflict and sadness and love and secrets and they should all know Robert and what happened to him.

The Outing by Fabian Foley

The Outing

Author – Fabian Foley
Pages – 351
Release Date – 29th January 2023
ISBN 13 – 978-0645674606
Format – ebook, paperback


If you play by the rules of the game, you’ll be safe…

It’s 1980s Queensland and in the wake of childhood trauma, suburban dad, Robert Carson is doing just that. But history has a habit of repeating itself, and when Johnny comes back into his life, he secretly steps outside the rules. Then Johnny disappears, and Robert’s façade cracks, then crumbles in heart-breaking circumstances. He’s certain the police are involved and covertly sets out to bring them to justice. But justice is a rare and costly commodity in this era and he’s forced to play a game where it seems that even if he wins, he loses.

He can’t change the rules. Can he change the game?

Inspired by real events and drawing on historical facts leading up to the broadcasting of The Moonlight State (1987), which ended an audacious era of political and police corruption, The Outing combines the poignant and emotional elements of Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain and Craig Silvey’s Honeybee with secrets and suspense, culminating in courtroom drama. Robert’s own fight for a seemingly unwinnable freedom will prelude hope justice and freedom for many others.

When nowhere is safe in the world you know, you can hide… or start making a new one.

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Fun Questions

Talking Owl Interview Pic 2023

1) Do you have a writing buddy (i.e. a pet)?

I’d love to say yes. And sometimes I do… but mostly other people’s when I’m housesitting… which we do sometimes along with our traveling. This is Mona and Milo.

Fabian Foley Mona and Milo

2) Do you have any writing quirks?

No… but mostly I write in the afternoons, I need to clear my head from all the must do items that will otherwise pop up. Except if I’m on some arbitrary deadline and then I’ve been known to sit ALL day, which I know isn’t ideal, but I get sort of obsessed. I definitely don’t like music while I’m writing, or someone talking.

3) Where do you write?

Since we spend most of our life in the caravan meandering around Europe I’m either under the awning, in the shade of a hedge or a tree, or cocooned in the heating inside (on those wild, wintery, windy wet days).

Where Fabian Foley Writes

4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?

I’ll be in the conga line with my son at the Wickham Hotel when Tank is doing his drag show and raising a glass of bubbles with tears in my eyes when the news about Johnny is shared…

5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?

Well… after he peers at me with raised eyebrows, goes back to the book and flicks through the Acknowledgments and turns back to the last page and reads it again, he looks back at me and says. “You can’t be serious. This is where it stops? Sit down now.”
So I do.
My mouth is only slightly ajar, and I can’t tell for sure, but I think my eyes are bulging.
“Good,” he says when I’m settled and leaning against the tree trunk opposite his branch, “I’m going to put the kettle on. I’m presuming tea at this time of day?”
I nod.
He nodded too, “And when I get back you’re going to tell me the rest.”

Author links


A big thank you to Fabian Foley for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.

The above links are affiliate links. I receive a very small percentage from each item you purchase via these link, which is at no extra cost to you. If you are thinking about purchasing the book, please think about using one of the links above. Thank you.

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