Today is release day for Talk of the Town (Harlequin MIRA), the new novel from multi-faceted and highly talented Perth-based author Rachael Johns — and I’m thrilled that she’s the latest guest on my bookish blog.
Rachael is an incredibly hard-working (and delightful!) author, whose books are immensely popular and beautifully written. She tackles some controversial contemporary subjects with empathy, intelligence and good humour, and creates characters we’d love to sit down with for a cosy chat, or go out on the town with. She’s an English teacher by trade, loving wife and the mother of three boys, and according to her website she loves being able to go to work in her pyjamas — and she hates ironing!
Her 2016 novel The Patterson Girls was named General Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards, and she has been a finalist in a number of other industry awards that measure the quality and popularity of published works. Like the characters in her stories, she is warm, friendly, witty and generous. And, as you’ll see from her answers to my questions, she also possesses a self-deprecating humour that is utterly charming.
Q. Rachael, how would you describe the work that you do and how you do it?
A. I write relationship stories that explore issues important to contemporary women and I have no idea how I do it. I’m not a plotter and my process for each book is to pray for an idea and then dive straight in and hope for the best.
Q. What projects are you currently working on, or do you have in the pipeline?
A. I’m currently writing the third in my Harlequin Special Edition series – The McKinnels of Jewell Rock. This series is set in a whiskey distillery in Oregon, US, and the third book is currently untitled. After that I’ll be starting my 2018 Women’s Fiction title and currently I have a few seeds of ideas for this book but haven’t decided which one is enough for an actual book yet.
Q. Where are the main bookcases in your home or office? Do you also keep books in other places at home (or elsewhere)?
A. We have books ALL over our house – on the kitchen bench (books that arrive almost daily and are yet to be read or housed), in my office (my own books, my favourite books and books I’m hoping to read for research), the kids’ rooms and our main living area have massive wall of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that are in dire need of a tidy-up. (The floor to ceiling photo only shows HALF of the wall)
Q. How are your books organised/arranged?
A. Organised? Don’t make me laugh! I’m not organised in any other aspect of my life so why would my shelves be any different. I like the idea of organisation though – if I was a different person, I’d possibly alphabetise my collection!
Q. What sorts of books predominate?
A. We have quite a diverse collection – a lot of classics (some beautiful Folio editions owned by my mum), picture books that linger from when the kids were little but I can’t bear to part with, fantasy/sci-fi books owned by my husband, middle grade and YA books that are added to at a rapid rate (I have three boys) and, of course, my books, which include romance, women’s fiction and crime books!
Q. Describe your favourite reading place.
A. Outside on my back balcony, which overlooks the pool. I like nothing more than sitting there on the sun lounger with a good book and a glass of wine in hand.
Q. What book/s are you reading right now? Why did you choose that book/those books and what do you think of it/them so far?
A. I’ve just finished This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel. I chose this because it is about a family who have a transgender child and as my book The Art of Keeping Secrets deals with a transgender husband, I was interested to see how someone else wrote about this issue. Now I’m about to read Secrets of a Billionaire’s Mistress, by my friend Sharon Kendrick. It’s her 101st book for Harlequin Mills & Boon – WHAT an achievement!!
Q. What are your favourite books and/or who are your favourite authors?
A. My fave book of all time has to be Bridget Jones’s Diary (Helen Fielding) – it kick-started my love affair with reading after I barely read anything in my teens. My fave authors include Lisa Jewell, Marian Keyes and Liane Moriarty.
Q. In the event of an emergency, if you could save just three books from your collection, which books would they be – and why would you choose them?
A. Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (although I still know it off by heart), because it was a book I enjoyed with all three of my boys when they were little. I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancackes, by Jaclyn Moriarty, because it was one of my fave books I’ve ever read and I really want to reread it one of these days to remember why, but I think it’s hard to come by now. And Bridget Jones’s Diary.
Q. If you could sit down for afternoon tea with your three favourite characters or authors, who would they be, what would you serve them, and what would like to talk to them about?
A. Lisa Jewell, Marian Keyes and Liane Moriarty and I’d take them out to San Churros for chocolate as I’m a hopeless cook these days. I’d want to pick their brains about where they get their ideas from.
Thanks so much for having me on your fabulous blog series – I’m nosy by nature so love checking out other people’s shelves!!
You can learn more about Rachael on her website.
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