This month we have Rachael Johns with us to chat about her latest book, “Outback Secrets”.
Before you hear what our members thought of the book, take some time to get to know the author right here:
Tell us about Outback Secrets…
Outback Secrets is the fifth in my Bunyip Bay series, which was only ever meant to be a trilogy, so it is completely standalone. It’s the story of Liam, the publican, who is a bit of a loner, but much relied upon by his patrons and other members of the community, and Henrietta Forward, who no longer lives in town but is home early for Christmas after an incident at work. Henri is an ag pilot, a career which worries her mother immensely.
Her mum would much rather see her settled back in Bunyip Bay with a safer job and believes the solution is finding her a man for her to fall in love with. This was such a fun book to write because both Liam and Henri are stuck in their ways and not at all on the hunt for love, so when Liam agrees to help Henri keep her mum off her back, they’re both surprised when sparks fly and, even worse, feelings develop.
But as the title suggests, both are keeping secrets that they need to share and work through before they can find fulfilment, alone or with each other.
What is your writing process like?
Although I adore writing (most of the time), it’s my job and so I treat it that way. When I’m writing a first draft, I aim to write 2000 words a day and I sit at my computer until I get there.
Sometimes I reach this goal well before midday and can relax or catch up on other things in the afternoon; other days I’m still not at my word count by the time I have to stop and go and pick up my kids. I try not to beat myself up about this because somehow if I show up five days a week, eventually it all seems to come together.
Saying that, if I’m stuck, I will sometimes allow myself to step away for a while – to go for a run or take a shower or just read – because making progress with a novel is not all about getting words on the page. Thinking time is just as important.
Are you more of a plotter or a pantser?
I believe no one is completely a plotter or a pantser but that we’re all somewhere along the spectrum. I’m definitely closer to the pantser end. I have never written an outline in my life (I’ve tried but get about halfway and I either give up because I have no idea what’s going to happen next or I get bored and just start writing).
Sometimes I have more of an idea of where my plot is going – like I know the midpoint or how it’s going to end – but other times I have very little idea apart from the basics of who my characters are when I begin.
This is both exhilarating and terrifying. I like that I write a book a lot like how a reader consumes it – and if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, hopefully there will be surprises along the way for them as well – however this can also wreak havoc with my anxiety because I’m always worried that writing into the dark will mean I’ll end up with 400 pages of words that don’t really make any sense.
For me, writing a novel involves a lot of trust that my subconscious has more idea of what needs to happen than I do. Saying that, it also means that sometimes I have a WHOLE load of rewriting to do when I’ve finished a draft, but so far, everything has been fixable.
What does being an author mean to you?
My absolute favourite thing to do is read books and I get so much joy, relaxation and escapism from the novels I read, so I feel VERY lucky to be able to do the same for other readers.
Sometimes it’s easy to think I don’t do anything important (especially compared to some of my amazing friends) but then I get a message from a reader telling me that one of my stories have helped them through a tough time, made them feel seen or simply made them laugh, and I remember that books are important and so is my job.
What advice would you give to help others create a plotline?
Um… as above, I don’t really plot, so I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this question. What I would advise is to get to know your characters as best as you can before you start, give them a strong conflict or moral dilemma, and then just follow them as they work through it.
Also make sure you’re reading as much as you’re writing – I learn SO much from reading other author’s novels.
What is your writing software of choice?
I just used Microsoft Word. I type from my head onto the page in chronological order.
Who is your favourite author?
This is such a hard question as I love SO many, but I’m currently obsessed with Elin Hilderbrand’s novels. I’m devouring her backlist and dreaming of being her when I grow up.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished THE PAPER PALACE by Miranda Cowley Heller, which was AMAZING and am about to start Stella Quinn’s THE VET FROM SNOWY RIVER.
Where can our readers follow you?
Almost everywhere – my website, I’m on Instagram, Facebook and I’ve recently taking the insane leap onto TikTok I also have a very active book club on Facebook and we’re always happy to welcome new members.
What is next for Rachael Johns?
I’m currently writing the first draft of THE WORK WIVES, which I hope will be my 2022 novel. It’s about two women who are complete opposites but bond at work and form a strong connection.
All is going swimmingly until a new guy turns up in the office who they both have history with – one good and one very, very bad.
I am a mother of four beautiful children. I can’t leave a book unfinished which equals a lot of late nights! When I’m not reading you can find me in the garden, or helping out at Beauty and Lace.