Singer of Def FX. Writer of several bestselling books. Self-Proclaimed Witch. Commerical Humanitarian Aid Pilot. Fiona Horne’s life is one thrilled with amazing adventures, and she certainly does not hold back with her new autobiographical novel, The Naked Witch.
The opportunity to tell her story came up out of the blue, and she recounted much of the process of writing it when she sat down to talk about the book.
“I was focused on my new career as a commercial pilot, delivering aid and going into places where aid was needed, so the opening of the book I’m in Africa writing it,” explained Fiona.
“I was there because I was doing a bush flying course, with an organisation called Bush Air, who to fly aircraft out to places that are really inhospitable to aircraft, you lad on a dirt patch and try to avoid the elephant.
“An old publisher I worked with got in touch with me and said, I still have a copy of your first book on my shelf. I reckon you’ve got another one in you. So when I was in Africa, between breaks in the course I started writing. Africa reminded me a lot of Australia; the colours, the red earth, the smells, the bush, the air, the light. It was a neutral space but it also evoked a lot of memories, and that’s how I got started.”
Over the course of five months, Horne wrote over many amazing locations, including Africa, Peuto Rico, the Caribbean and Dubai.
“That feeling of being in a neutral place gives you a blank space to review your life, and when you put yourself into a situation or a memory, it still lives inside you,” said Fiona.
“I cried when I wrote the book; I laughed, I wrote with excitement. It was quite an experience.”
Most readers will remember Fiona for her seven-year stint with the popular touring group Def FX, who become renowned for their live shows in the 1990s. For Fiona though, she looked upon these times with initial mixed feelings.
“I remember doing a tour of America in ‘93, we started in a shaddy van, but we upgraded to a caravan. We did long, long drives between cities, and I was the only girl in the van,” she reminisces.
“There was six guys, the band members, the lighting guy, the tour manager, the manager. You kinda stick out. You don’t have anyone to sit and chat with. Boys all kind of bond and you’re left on the outer.
“I was the only girl, and I was young and confronting a lot of things in my own sexuality, I felt very confronted with the blokeness of it all… When you are younger you tend to take a lot of stuff personally, and I did feel isolated and not understood, and in the end very unhappy. Even though I had a very lingering sense to it all I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I could have, feeling like a sore thumb sticking out.”
The book does touch on many of Fiona’s moments of isolation. However, it also touches on the excitement of it all, with a personal highlight being Fiona’s recounts of meeting Gwen Stefani, when Def FX toured with No Doubt in Japan, (with Blink 182 playing as the warm up band).
Fiona however, made it clear that the relations with the band members now are stronger than ever. Their attempts at a reunion tour next year had been stifled by the pulling out of promoters, but there are still plans for a Def FX reunion at some point soon.
“It’s very different now, the reunion tour,” Fiona clarifies.
"In light of the promoter cancelling, we’re hoping to do a farewell tour next year. But now, it’s very different, the guys have families and kids, it’s totally different. Back when we were doing Def FX, we were touring 300 days out of the year. It was a brutal schedule, but we were a popular touring group and we always would get full houses, and it was what it was.
“What we didn’t have in commercial chart success, we had in amazing live show attendance. We were always touring. It’s very different right now, but of course we want to get back on the road and do it.”
There is a real sense, speaking to Fiona, that she has reached a stage of happiness and comfortableness. Part of finding herself came from the experiences of moving to Los Angeles. While she has met many in the Hollywood circle, it was her detailing of her intense meetings with Tom Jones, as well as Gene Simmons and Marylin Manson, that inspired to make the move at the time.
“I left a pretty sweet deal in Australia, and I left it all to start from scratch in Los Angeles. Tom [Jones], I interviewed on a TV show, there’s a section in the book where, a couple of weeks after that interview I was invited to one of his concerts, which tipped the scales of getting to know each other for a couple weeks.
“We stayed friends and toured on-and-off over the years, but never in the way those two weeks together were, that was an extraordinarily heavy time.
“[With Manson,] it was like, I interviewed him on Triple M, hung out with him, went to a concert, went to the movies, and we got along really well just as friends, nothing else. We had a few things in common, he liked snakes, I had a pet snake. But meeting him: Marylin Manson was so huge at that time. They were at the absolute peak of their amazing career of extraordinary ground breaking music.
“Their visuals, art and theatre they brought to the rock stage; Manson was glorious, macabre and powerful. But he was such a sweet, normal guy; and it occurs to me as I’m sitting there, in the movies, and then were going and playing videogames at Crown Casino, I thought: he is so normal! And yet, he is this massive star! He and I getting along, I thought if he can do it, I can too. He told me about how he came from bumfuck nowhere and became a Rockstar, and I thought, maybe I can too.
“It’s just part of the journey, that’s why I share it.”
However, for all these experiences, it was becoming a commercial pilot that Horne considers her crowning achievement. This had come after hitting rock bottom in 2012, after years of struggling with alcoholism.
“When I got my commercial pilot license, it was definitely, without a doubt, the hardest thing that I have ever done,” exclaimed Fiona.
“Using your brain, I came from a creative background where you use your brain in certain ways, but working in aviation, you’re flying planes, it made me use my brain in a way that I hadn’t even really used.
“It was so difficult, but I had needed something really big to fill in the hole in my life. I had lost everything, my health, my love, my home, everything was gone. Flying was something that was all consuming enough that I could disappear into it, away from the sorrow and the mess that life had become, and rebuild.
“I always had loved aviation, I always loved planes and flights. I always used to get on planes and wish I was going left towards the cockpit, not right towards the passenger seats.
“Now I turn left. It’s an achievement that I know I truly earned. There were no favours, no lucky break, no being in the right place at the right time, just sheer brain-breaking work and practise and refining of a skill. It’s now a daily experience, I’m glad that I’ve got this far, and I just want to keep being useful and providing a good service.”
It’s this sense of not giving up that permeates from the book. For Fiona, writing it was not just a cathartic experience, but a revelation on her own life.
“I’m grateful for all the good times, but also all the bad times. It got me to where I am now,” says Fiona.
“As I say in the book, I know I am the best version of myself that I could possibly be, if there’s a message in the book it is to encourage people to not give up: I failed, I got so many things wrong and I screwed up so much stuff.
“But there was one thing I got really, really good at in life and that was not giving up. If someone is reading the book and they get that from it, that I have the same insecurities and issues as many other people, and if the book helps you, then that’s what I hope people get out of reading the novel. I hope they get a message encouraging them to be the best version of themselves they can be.
“I’ve been out there in a big way, in the entertainment industry, which is really put on a pedestal in our society as being something everyone wants. What I’ve learnt, the things that fill your heart and allow you to enjoy life are very simple.
“Friendship, timeout in nature, living a simple life, I get to do more fun things now then I ever have before! Everything becomes more meaningful.
“I try to make a positive difference in the little world around me, and if this book can make a positive difference, then that’s a beautiful thing, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
The Naked Witch is out now. Check out my review of it here.