I’m currently reading Lost Without You by acclaimed author Rachael Johns and as I have come to expect from this author, it is a good read.
I’m a fan of Rachael’s novel The Greatest Gift published in November 2017; it was one of those books that I opened and didn’t close until I read to the end. I had the great pleasure of speaking to Rachael and found her an intelligent and warm person with great empathy for her fellow human beings and a quirky sense of humour.
Rachael has taken time out of her busy schedule, again, to tell us a little about herself.
Who is Rachael Johns?
I’m an English teacher by trade but now work full time as a novelist – writing books about relationships and contemporary issues. When I’m not writing, I’m wrangling three sons and trying to squeeze as much reading in as possible. I harbour ambitions to learn quilting, cook more cakes and learn to fly hot air balloons, but right now writing and kids keep me pretty busy!
What was your favourite book as a child and why?
My favourite series was The Baby-sitters Club by Ann M Martin. The five friends (Kirsty, Mary-Ann, Claudia, Stacey and Dawn) seemed so relatable yet so cool and my friends and I had ambitions to be them. The books celebrate friends (and crushes on boys) but looking back I see they also celebrated female independence and initiative and I think subconsciously that’s probably what I loved about them.
What book made the most lasting impression on you?
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Not much of a reader in high school, for some reason this was one of the books my English teacher managed to get me to read from start to finish. I think it was the character of Miss Havisham that really intrigued me but all these years later I can still remember the storyline and all the other characters as well, which is more than I can say for many books. I actually wrote a tribute to Miss Havisham in my very first rural romance.
Is there a book you think “I wish I had written that”?
So many, but if I have to pick only one it would be The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. I’ve been a huge fan of Liane’s books since her first, but I loved the clever premise of The Husband’s Secret, and let’s face it, what writer wouldn’t want to be Liane!!
What are you currently reading?
I’m about to start Dear Mrs Bird by AJ Pearce – it was recommended by another author and so I chose it for my book club pick.
What are you writing at present?
I’m near the very end of what I hope will be my next book. It hasn’t got an official title yet but it’s about three generations of women who have different views of what it means to be a woman, views which of course are challenged due to conflict that arises throughout the book.
Are you a planner or do your books form organically?
I’m definitely more of an organic writer – I begin with a premise or an issue I’d like to explore and then I start creating characters that can bring these things to life. I think a lot about characters – who they are and why, what has happened in their past to make them who they are today – before I start, but I often don’t know exactly what is going to happen in the book until I start writing.
What was your first job?
First job was a check-out chick at Kmart (before it was cool) but my first post-uni job was writing messages for Messages on Hold! We had to be creative and funny, so it was actually quite fun.
When I’m not writing I’m…?
Cooking; cleaning; taxi-ing my sons to school, soccer, film-making classes and drama; reading or binge-watching shows from the 90s or noughties because I didn’t watch any TV then as I was working towards publication every spare moment.
What is the most outrageous/bravest/silliest thing you have done in your life?
Possibly travelling around Europe by myself when I was 18 and didn’t know any of the languages. Or maybe it was going up in a hot air balloon?! Both were extremely fun and I have ambitions to do them again one day.
What brings you joy?
Getting messages or emails from readers who have read my book and not only loved it but been touched by one of the storylines.
Is there a book you keep re-reading; something that never gets old for you or where you still find nuances?
There are too many books in my to-be-read pile to reread old ones, however, there are a number of books I dream of re-reading one day – Great Expectations, Bridget Jones’ Diary and I Have A Bed Made Of Buttermilk Pancakesto name a few.
Is there a character you really identify with, either in one your books, or indeed another author’s work?
I think I identify with at least something in each of my characters – although they are all fictional you always borrow emotions from yourself and people you know; the rest you make up. In my recent book, I most identify with Josie, who grew up not knowing who her biological parents were. Although I knew my mother, I didn’t meet my father until I was seventeen years old and I was always curious about him and that side of my family.
Are you looking forward to ageing? Why/Why not?
Yes, immensely. The older I get the less I care about what others think about me and I also believe each year is something to be celebrated, not swept under the carpet. So many people don’t reach old age, so if I do, I’ll be grateful for it.
Many thanks to Rachael Johns for these insights into the woman and the author. Best wishes for success with Lost Without You