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News > Alumni News > Allanian Author publishes debut book with Penguin Random House Australia

Allanian Author publishes debut book with Penguin Random House Australia

Fiona Lloyd, who attended the Schools from 1983 to 1990, has recently achieved her dream of becoming a published author. Being Jimmy Baxter, was published by Penguin Random House Australia in July.
4 Jul 2023
Alumni News

“My time at Dame Allan’s was a happy one. Prior to being accepted, I’d been to four primary schools, the last of which was full of pupils who weren’t interested in learning, and made life hard for those who wanted to. I escaped into books and dreamt of writing my own.

Dame Allan’s afforded me the chance to be involved in drama; an important confidence-building tool that I wish all children had the opportunity to experience. After joining the choir, performing at Speech Days and taking part in our annual music/drama competition, I graduated to a lead role in Sue Welbrock’s production of The Crucible (1989), which we also happened to be studying.

One person in particular has stayed on my mind over the years; English teacher, Mr. Paul Lewton. At the time, I didn’t appreciate how his dedication and enthusiasm would benefit me later in life. His 1989 report reads, ‘Fiona’s work for the essay project on ‘The Crucible’ was less than successful. She is certainly a willing pupil and I am sure this will pay dividends!’

Despite my difficulties, he still believed I had potential, and was always a fan of my creative writing.

I went on to play Lady Macbeth in Eric Smith’s boys’ school production, and was offered a place at Winchester studying drama, but for various reasons, I didn’t accept my place. That’s certainly one of my larger regrets, perhaps an unfulfilled challenge – but never say never!

With the acting dream over, I lost my way. I drifted into hospitality, tourism, retail - with no direction other than ‘done that, what’s next?’ I felt embarrassed at school reunions hearing my friends achievements in law, business, medicine. I forgot my other ambition of becoming an author. I lost belief in my ability to achieve.

It was only years later that I began to make peace with feeling as if I’d failed. I realised that encountering a wide range of people, living in other countries, working it out as I went along, including dealing with anxieties and at times, depression, were all valuable and valid experiences.  Writing is about creating rich, real characters, evoking a sense of place, stepping into others shoes. It’s about infusing your own feelings and experiences; the good and the bad. What a wealth of experience I had to draw on!

In years since I’ve privately thanked Paul. In the end, his ‘revise, revise, revise,’ became the exact advice I needed. He believed in my capabilities when I didn’t. He always pushed me for my best outcome. I wish he was here to see that his encouragement and high standards did pay dividends in the end.

There’s an incredible pressure to choose a set pathway in years that can be vulnerable and confronting for some. I’d love students to know that it’s never too late to figure it out. Explore, see what’s possible, fail and get back up again. I’ve waited at tables, learnt Greek, run guided tours in Europe, cleaned hotel rooms, worked in television, owned businesses, and finally - I’ve published a book. I was a shy, nervous student when I arrived at Dame Allan’s, but the education and values I left with have played an enormous part in where I am today. 

My debut novel, Being Jimmy Baxter, was released on July 4th 2023 with Penguin Random House, Australia. Set in the 1990’s, for ages 10-14, it is a gently funny, yet powerful coming-of-age story about surviving the odds, unlikely friendships and the magical music of Elvis.

Themes include: depression, grief, bullying, racism, loneliness, the power of friendship, resilience, hope, perseverance, gratitude, being true to who you are, and coming-of-age.”

Being Jimmy Baxter will be available to purchase online.


Facebook/Instagram: @fionalloydauthor


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