Lynette Noni: Fantastic Stories of Danger that Delight!

Every once in a while I read a book and think, “Wow!.. just… wow” and immediately have to find out more about the author. That is how I discovered Lynette Noni. Her Prison Healer series and other books hit both myself and the world by storm, and once I met her, I realized why so many say so much good about her. First, she is just so much fun to talk to!!  Warm, friendly, and completely down-to-earth, this Aussie not only has the accent but the kindness that makes everyone around her comfortable.  Within minutes of the introduction, we were laughing and chatting like old friends. Yet, within that sweet personality lies an incredible gift of storytelling that is both deep and insightful, leaving readers aching for more every time!

InD: It’s wonderful to be able to talk to you! Conversations between Australia and the U.S. are always challenging. Where did you grow up?
I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Australia. The nearest “town” had a pub and a railway for silos and wheat, but little else. There were only a handful of people who lived there, and it was about a 10-minute drive from our farm. My school was 20-30 minutes away, and the closest city was Dubbo—which is where I was born— was about a 2.5-hour drive away, so we were pretty isolated.
InD: How did you get your food out there?
The school had a convenience store nearby and we didn’t need to buy milk, eggs, or other readily available farm foods, but every two weeks my parents would drive into the city to shop. I have early memories of loving grocery days because we would all drive into Dubbo together and come out with big trolleys full of food. It was the only time my dad would buy ice cream tins. That was a treat for us because we always ran out of nice stuff by the end of two weeks.
InD: What was that like growing up in the middle of nowhere?
When I look back, I think there was a different vibe around country folk than there is about city folk. We moved to the coast when I was seven, which is where I still live. Here it’s a casual, chilled way of life, but there's a lot more happening than on the farm. I do really value the time I lived in the country, though, because it was slower and I learned how to just be a kid.
I have an older brother, so we had each other, and while there were other farms nearby, they were still far enough away that it wasn’t like we could just walk next door to see our friends. Unless our families were close, we mostly only saw the other farm kids socially when we all got together at Christmas. We would have big Christmas parties and Santa would arrive on the fire truck. It was very community spirited and a really beautiful way to grow up. Obviously, life got faster once we left the farm, but I’m really grateful for that time I had. It grounded me at an early age.
InD: What made your family leave the farm and move away?
My mum was a teacher and my dad was a farmer. He got chronic fatigue syndrome that was really quite debilitating, and he hurt his back. There was also a lot of drought and physical factors and environmental factors, along with a number of other things, that made them decide it just wasn’t working, even though my dad had been a farmer his entire life. So it was not a snap decision by any means. Once a year, we would go to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland for a holiday, and my parents loved going there. It had an old, relaxed kind of feeling. That’s where they decided to move us.
InD: I have never heard that term, "Sunshine Coast".
Have you heard of the "Gold Coast"? That’s where they make a lot of the movies here in Australia; it’s about 2 hours south of me. Brisbane city is in between both the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, which means the Sunny Coast is an hour north of the city, and has a population of around 300,000.
InD: That is really interesting! Not being from Australia, there are obviously areas I am not familiar with. We tend to know the outback and Sydney, but all the other areas, maybe not so much. What is the weather like there?
It’s gorgeous. The springtime here is glorious temperature-wise. We do have cool winters and we freeze our backsides off if it gets into single digits Celsius (around 40°F) but we’re sort of in the tropics, so we’re used to warm, hot summer days, easily above 30°C (over 100°). It’s a nice place to live. We don't get snow where I live and it’s rare to get snow anywhere near me, which is the only thing that makes me sad, since I love snow!
InD: I read somewhere you said you were big reader and I would imagine so living on a farm, but where did you get the books?
My mum encouraged me to read because she was a teacher. She always brought books home and I would also get books from the school library. I didn't really have a favorite genre. I would also make up stories with my brother because we spent so much time together. We would get our teddy bears and go off on adventures together and tell these huge stories and entertain each other.
InD: Did your mom teach in the school that was half an hour away, or was she a teacher by trade who lived on a farm?
She did some teaching in that school but it was rare, mostly relief work. She had more permanent work in a different school that was in another town.
InD: Did you take a bus school or did your dad drive you?
We took a small white bus that would make the circuit. It would take forever to get to school! We only lived 20-ish minutes from school, but when the bus picked us up, we would go further away to get the other farm kids. It wasn’t like you were going around the block to pick up students, but going around the country.
InD: Was it traumatic for you, at all, when you moved away?
I was an easy-going, happy-go-lucky child, but I remember being worried about leaving the farm and moving to another state. I actually had to skip an entire schooling grade if I wanted to stay with my age group, so I jumped straight over grade 2. That meant I started in grade 3 when we moved to Queensland, but it ended up being fine since I didn’t really miss much, and if there were any problems, I had a teacher-mum who could help me.
I transitioned well enough because I make friends pretty easily. But I also remember being sad about leaving my friends on the farm, which is the only huge emotion I can think of now. I had two really close friends out there and it was hard saying goodbye to them and others because we were such a tight-knit community. But my dad still had family there, so we used to go back and visit. I would see my friends then and catch up, but that was only until about the age of 10, after which my dad’s family left and we stopped going back. I was settled on the coast by then, though.
InD: Did you live on the Sunshine Coast up until the time you went to college?
Yes, I did.
InD: What was high school like for you?
It was interesting. Up until grade 7, everyone went to the same primary school, then everyone split up and went to different high schools. My closest friends all went to different schools, so that was difficult. I remember struggling for a while to find my place. My high school seemed massive—it had about 1,500 students across five grades. There was a time when I didn't have any friends because I could see they were going down a different, more troubled path than the one I wanted to go down,
so, there were a few months where I was alone, but eventually I found a good group of friends. I believe I was a good student, again I think because I had a mum for teacher. I was also obsessed with horses and I had my own horse from fourteen onwards, so I would be off training and competing, which meant my world was away from school. (Though I was careful to keep my grades up so I could keep working with horses!)
InD: Were there other things you liked, or was that it?
Horses were all-consuming for me, at that age. I would get up at the crack of dawn and train for an hour and then go to school, then train again after school. At night, I would be passing out after doing homework. As soon as I was old enough to be legally allowed to get a job, I did that to help pay for my horse bills. I also had an active social life, first with all my pony club friends, and then with my high school friends. Thinking back now, I was so busy that don't know how I kept my sanity, but it taught me so much about self-discipline that I brought into my adulthood.
InD: What job did you have?
When I was a kid, you had to be 14 and 9 months before you could get a job, so as soon as I hit that age, I was looking for any job to help pay for my horse. I ended up working at a fast-food franchise called Uncle Tony’s Kebabs, making toasted sandwiches and such. I was there a couple of years, and on the side I supplemented that with giving horse riding lessons.

Read the entire interview in the Dec/Jan 2022-23 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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