To celebrate the release of Australian rural romance author Rachael Johns’ third full length novel Outback Dreams I had the chance to ask her a few questions, plus she elaborated on what it’s like to switch from writing stand alone novels to writing a series.
Q1. Hey Rach and welcome to my blog. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. To start – what was the road to publication like for you? How did you come to be published?
It was LONG. I’m a slow learner. At 17 (after breaking up with my first love and writing as a form of therapy) I decided I wanted to be an author. At 32 my first book finally hit the shelves. During this time I did a writing degree at uni, although I’m not sure this did much good at all, aside from the fact I read an article about Mills & Boon while there. Years later I remembered that article and decided to try my hand at writing romance. It was still another six years before I got published, but in that time I found Romance Writers of Australia and finally started really learning about what makes a good book and honing my craft. It was eventually a rejected Mills & Boon attempt that was picked up by Carina Press. As a newly published author I got to go to a dinner with Harlequin Australia authors and here I met my now publisher. My friend actually pitched my book to her!
Q2. Share a little about your writing routine: are you an extensive plotter or do you wing it? Do you have a favourite place to write (ie office or café) and is there anything you consider necessary to the writing process (besides Diet Coke!)?
I sometimes WISH I plotted more. When I get stuck I dream that if I had a detailed outline it wouldn’t happen, but the truth is, I write fairly organically. I start with a premise or a character and I spent a lot of time staring into space imagining what might happen next. I have a tiny corner in our house for an office but my fave place to write is in bed with my electric blanket on in the winter. I like to move around the house and write in different spots the rest of the time. And yes, Diet Coke is a must!
Q3. What draws you to the romance genre?
The aw-moments!! I’m such a romantic at heart and love seeing people who are so obviously in love and destined to be together. The Happy Ever Afters of romance books are another bonus. I like to feel fulfilled and uplifted at the end of a book.
Q4. Your books are mostly set in small, rural towns with a focus on community. Where do you get your ideas and inspirations for your settings?
This is always such a hard question, but thinking about it, I realise a lot does come from my own surroundings. In JILTED, the town I lived in were reviving the theatrical society, so I wrote about it. In our little town in Goomalling, there’s a gorgeous old pub that’s pretty much falling apart and nobody ever goes there. This makes me sad, so in MAN DROUGHT I wrote about a similar place that the heroine renovates back to its former glory.
Q5. Outback Dreams is your first book that will be linked to others in a trilogy. How, at all, did your writing process differ to writing a novel that stands alone?
As you said, it’s my first attempt at a series, so in many ways it’s been a learning experience. If I embark on a series again, I’ll take better notes and have more of an idea from the start, which characters I’m going to write about in future books. In terms of the process differing, it wasn’t that much of a change from previous books, except that I was thinking about the next book or two when I was writing. I had to make sure characters remained consistent throughout and that didn’t always work because I didn’t plan it all from the start. For example, Ryan (Faith’s brother in OUTBACK DREAMS) was going to be the hero in OUTBACK BLAZE but half way through writing OUTBACK DREAMS, I changed my mind, so then I had to work out what the hell to do with him. You’ll have to wait till May next year to find out what I decided
Q6. What do you like to do to relax when you’re away from the keyboard?
Relax? What’s that? Seriously at the moment I don’t get much relaxing time. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve gone from being a hobbyist writer to writing pretty much full time, but I still have three young kids, a hubby, a house and a business to look after, so free time is rare. My fave thing to do in theory is read or bake sweet things!
Q7. Share five of your favourite authors and/or books.
Five of my fave authors in no particular reason are: Marian Keyes, Helen Fielding, Lisa Jewell, Dorothy Koomson and Kristan Higgins.
Q8. And lastly… I know you’re pretty hard at work on the third book in your trilogy, Outback Ghost. What’s next for you beyond that?
I’m very excited to have a novella (THE KISSING SEASON) out in December and I’ve also just signed on to write another book related to JILTED (my first rural romance). Lauren’s (the nurse) story titled THE ROAD TO HOPE will be out in 2015.
In the Q&A I asked Rachael what changed between writing a stand-alone book and one that counts as part of a series. Here’s a guest post Rachael did on that very topic to elaborate a little on her answer.
Hi Bree and Bree’s readers – thanks so much for inviting me back on your lovely blog. I was last here when my first rural romance JILTED released. It’s hard to believe that was only just over a year ago. Being a writer is a continual learning process. I really appreciate reviewers like Bree who take the time to read and report on my books and also readers who contact me after reading my book. I’m lucky that most of my feedback has been positive and of the glowing variety, but I do try to consider this feedback when writing and planning future books.
Many readers emailed me or commented on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RachaelJohnsRomance?fref=ts) after reading JILTED and MAN DROUGHT asking with hope if I was planning to write a sequel to either of these books as they wanted to know more about Flynn & Ellie (JILTED) and Imogen & Gibson (MAN DROUGHT). At that stage I had to say that I felt these stories were complete (although I’ve since signed on to write a JILTED sequel – watch this space) but it got me thinking about the fact readers love returning to the world of a book time and time again. Many US romance novelists are doing well with their series books, in which the hero and heroine change but the characters and the setting remain the same.
It is for this reason I decided to give my readers what I thought they wanted and write a linked series of books. I’m pleased to announce the result of this decision is OUTBACK DREAMS, OUTBACK BLAZE and OUTBACK GHOST, which centre around the small town of Bunyip Bay (Western Australia) and its people.
OUTBACK DREAMS has just released and is the story of Faith and Monty – they’ve been best friends for years but have only just realized their attraction to each other. Monty thinks he’s in love with someone else (Ruby) and Faith just wants to find someone to fall in love with and settle down, but they are both looking in the wrong direction. When fate puts them together alone in a tent one night after a few too many drinks, the chemistry they never recognized before explodes. And they are forced to face the feelings they never knew they had for each other. All seems good until Monty drops a bombshell on Faith and she realizes the person she thought she knew best in the world, she doesn’t really know at all.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading it, but today I thought I’d give you a glimpse into the future and the next two books – exclusive to Bree’s blog.
The initial idea for OUTBACK BLAZE has been with me for a few years, ever since the supermarket my husband was managing burnt to the ground one night. This is Ruby (who we meet in OUTBACK DREAMS) and Drew’s story. Ruby’s parents business burns down and suspicion is rife around town about who is responsible. Ruby is recovering from a horrific break-up and can’t believe her bad luck. Drew is a cop all the way from the UK with a big secret to hide and the desire to get out of town as soon as possible, but he’s keen to solve the crime before he goes. This is my first story with an element of suspense and I hope you’ll enjoy it, but it’s also chock full of hot romance too!
OUTBACK GHOST is the third book and I’m currently in the first draft stage of writing it. The seeds of this book start in OUTBACK DREAMS when Monty is renovating an old cottage on his friend Adam’s farm. Adam’s sister went missing twenty years ago when she was seven and he was ten and his family, particularly his mother, has never truly got over this event. The lovely Stella, a single mum of Heidi who has Down syndrome and comes to stay at the cottage. Heidi has always had imaginary friends but when she starts talking to someone with the same name as Adam’s sister, Stella starts to freak out. This story is a sweet romance, in which two gorgeous people get together and a twenty-year mystery I can’t wait to share Bunyip Bay with my readers and I hope you’ll all shoot me a line or stop by on Facebook or Twitter to let me know what you think!
Website – http://www.rachaeljohns.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns
Intrigued by the Bunyip Bay series? I have just the thing to get you started! Thanks to Harlequin AU and Morey Media, I am offering one reader the chance to win a copy of Outback Dreams. Simply fill in the form to enter – Australian residents only please.