GUEST BLOG – Bestselling author Rachael Johns on her real life Outback Blaze

I’m so excited to be releasing the second book in my Bunyip Bay series, Outback Blaze. As the title suggests, the book involves a fire and although the fire and the story that accompanies it are fictional, this book was in part inspired by a real-life event.

In 2009, my husband and I lived in Kojonup (a small but vibrant community in South Western Australia). My husband was the manager of the supermarket part of the Kojonup Co-op – a business owned and operated by the people of the town for over fifty years. The building was a historic icon in town and the business it housed was the hub of the community.

I still remember the night of the fire like it was yesterday. I was in bed early (I had a newborn) and was typing on my laptop when I smelt smoke. I thought it was my laptop and asked hubby if he could smell it. He looked at me like I was insane but within a few minutes the smell intensified.

We rushed into our boys’ bedroom where we had a pedestal fan going to check on that, but all was good, so that’s when we stepped outside. As we smelt the intense aroma of smoke in the air, hubby’s phone rang with the news that the shop was on fire. He rushed down the road and I rushed next door (how convenient) to my mum’s house to ask her to watch the kids so I could follow him.

Pic 2By the time I arrived, the shop was well and truly up in smoke, the local volunteer firefighters were in attendance and half the town had congregated to watch the disaster unfold. I remember looking around at everyone dressed in their pajamas and slippers and thinking two things:

1)     How absolutely devastating this was for the town and all the people that might no longer have jobs.

2)     That one day I was definitely putting this drama into a book!

While my husband, his boss and the other Co-op employees were thinking about their future and how to rebuild the shop and the business, I was thinking about what it would mean for the town if it was discovered an arsonist had started the fire.

Pic 3How would locals feel knowing one of their own had done this and was living within their midst? Would they be worried about it happening again? Would they start looking at everyone with suspicion?

Thankfully the fire at the Kojonup Co-op was a tragic accident but the fire in Outback Blaze is not! This is the first time I’ve written an element of suspense in one of my rural romances and I had a lot of fun doing so.

I hope you enjoy reading Outback Blaze and I’d love to hear your thoughts once you have.

Photos courtesy of my hubby and my friend Jacqui from Kojonup.

Grab a copy of Rachael Johns’ Outback Blaze here

Outback Blaze

by Rachael Johns

Ruby wasn’t looking for love, Drew wasn’t looking to stay… until they found each other. Can their fling survive the darkness of Ruby’s past and Drew’s desire to move on?

Ruby Jones was always an optimist, but the trauma of her past had made her wary. So when she flees to the small rural community of Bunyip Bay to start afresh, she has her sights firmly set on establishing her horse-riding business and rebuilding her life. The last thing Ruby wants is a romance. In fact, after all she has been through, she can’t imagine she will ever believe in love again.

Police officer Drew Noble has no intention of staying in Bunyip Bay — he is just an outsider seeking temporary refuge. But as the charm of the town sways him, Drew finds himself increasingly drawn to the community and its inhabitants, as well as another newcomer, the lovely Ruby Jones.

When Drew investigates a suspicious fire at Ruby’s parents’ business, he finds himself feeling strangely protective of the girl with the flowers in her hair. As the details of Ruby’s past emerge and she comes once more under threat, Drew realises he will do all in his power to save her.

Soon these outsiders discover they have both lost their hearts — not only to the town but to each other.

Grab a copy of Rachael Johns’ Outback Blaze here

Win a High Tea Experience with bestselling author Rachael Johns

Thanks to Harlequin Books Australia, every Booktopia customer who orders a copy of Rachael Johns’ new novel Outback Blaze before May 1st will go in the draw to win 1 of 10 High Tea experiences at The Tea Cosy, The Rocks, Sydney on 10th May 2014 (flights not included).

Oh, did we mention that Rachael Johns herself will be at the High Tea too!

For those unable to get to Sydney there are also 5 Harlequin book packs to be won! For more details click here.

Grab a copy of Rachael Johns’ Outback Blaze here

Outback Blaze

by Rachael Johns

Ruby wasn’t looking for love, Drew wasn’t looking to stay… until they found each other. Can their fling survive the darkness of Ruby’s past and Drew’s desire to move on?

Ruby Jones was always an optimist, but the trauma of her past had made her wary. So when she flees to the small rural community of Bunyip Bay to start afresh, she has her sights firmly set on establishing her horse-riding business and rebuilding her life. The last thing Ruby wants is a romance. In fact, after all she has been through, she can’t imagine she will ever believe in love again.

Police officer Drew Noble has no intention of staying in Bunyip Bay — he is just an outsider seeking temporary refuge. But as the charm of the town sways him, Drew finds himself increasingly drawn to the community and its inhabitants, as well as another newcomer, the lovely Ruby Jones.

When Drew investigates a suspicious fire at Ruby’s parents’ business, he finds himself feeling strangely protective of the girl with the flowers in her hair. As the details of Ruby’s past emerge and she comes once more under threat, Drew realises he will do all in his power to save her.

Soon these outsiders discover they have both lost their hearts — not only to the town but to each other.

Grab a copy of Rachael Johns’ Outback Blaze here

Harlequin joins our Booktoberfest celebration – you could win one of six Rural Romance Prize Packs valued at $120!

How would you like to give everyone you love a book for Christmas… without you having to pay a cent?

To help us celebrate Booktoberfest our friends at Harlequin are giving you the chance to win to one of six Rural Romance Prize Packs valued at $120!

Just buy any book in their Booktoberfest showcase and go in the draw to win!

Click here to enter the Harlequin showcase

Harlequin Booktoberfest Highlight

Outback Dreams

by Rachael Johns

Faith and Monty are both looking for love…but they’re looking in the wrong direction. Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. And she wants to find a man…

For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. But there’s still something missing…

So when Faith embarks on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both. Until a drunken night out ends with them sleeping together. Suddenly, the best friends are faced with a new load of challenges…

Monty and Faith are both ready to find a life partner and settle down, but have they both been looking in all the wrong places?

Click here to buy Outback Dreams from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

2013 Romance Writers of Australia Conference: Top 10 moments

Recently our Romance Specialist Haylee Nash flew the flag for Booktopia at the 2013 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Fremantle. These are her stories.

dancing up a stormFor those of you who have never been to a Romance Writers of Australia (RWA) Conference, or indeed any kind of romance conference, let me paint you a picture. Imagine a modestly sized room, filled with women. Hundreds of women. Each of these women are writers, romance writers, who spend their day behind a computer (if they’re lucky enough to be able to live from their writing) and in the rest of society are often derided for writing “those books”. So it’s fair to say that these women don’t often get the pleasure of speaking about romance, certainly not with fellow enthusiasts. Now to this joyous scene add oodles of champagne, a nautical theme and a conference venue that  is far enough away from most attendees to require staying at the hotel, sans husbands, significant others, kids, pets or any other responsibilities. Into this melee I walked, and, rather than wincing at the noise and leavig, I grabbed a champagne and, with stupidly big grin on my face, entered the fray. Continue reading

The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings – a guest review by bestselling author Rachael Johns

Bestselling author and voracious consumer of romance Rachael Johns gives an insider’s perspective on The Secret Lives of Emma: Beginnings by Natasha Walker

Before I start, I must admit, I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or any of the supposed spin-offs and had absolutely no inclination to do so. I read 100 pages of Grey because I thought I should – it sold bucket loads and as an author it would have been good research to work out why – but I honestly couldn’t go any further. Erotic romance has just never been my thing.  So, I’d never had any inclination to pick up The Secret Lives of Emma series either. There were just too many other books on my TBR pile. I like a hot sex scene as much as the next person in a romance, but I’m more there for the romance than the sex. Continue reading

Australia’s Favourite Novelist: The Countdown Continues

What a journey it’s been. From the hundreds of nominations, to the tens of thousands of votes, and here we are at the last day of the countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

For those who are coming to the party a little late, here’s the story so far:

 

So sit back and enjoy as the countdown towards Australia’s Favourite Novelist continues….


10. Rachael Johns

An English teacher by trade, a supermarket owner by day, a mum 24/7, and a writer by night. That’s some of the ingredients that make up one of the most successful Romance Writers in Australia, Rachael Johns. Rachael’s army of followers spread the good word relentlessly to take her into the top 10 of Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

In a relatively short space of time, Rachael has shown herself a force to be reckoned with, helping to bolster a new movement in Australian Romance writing. At 17 she began writing, enlightened by the thought that she could create whatever ending she liked, and almost a decade later, after many, many attempts at writing different types of novels, she joined the Romance Writers of Australia association.

Our Pick

It was there that Rachael learnt there was more to writing a book than just typing out random thoughts. She learnt about the craft, conflict, consistent characters, etc, and also discovered that she loved contemporary romance.

She lives in rural Western Australia with her husband and their three children.

Congratulations Rachael on coming 10th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Rachael Johns’ author page


9. Craig Silvey

From the moment Craig Silvey’s first book Rhubarb hit the shelves in 2004, it became clear Australia had unearthed another incredibly exciting talent. In 2005 Silvey was named as one of The Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists. Rhubarb was selected as the inaugural book for the ‘One Book’ series of events at the 2005 Perth International Arts Festival, and was included in the Australian national ‘Books Alive’ campaign.

And then came Jasper.

Jasper Jones has become one of Australia’s Favourite Novels. Recently voted 6th in the Tuesday Book Club’s list of Aussie Books to Read Before You Die, it opened the whole world to Silvey and his wonderful writing and thoughts on Australian society, both past and present.

Our Pick

Silvey says of his literary influences that “I’ve always been attracted to Southern Gothic fiction. There’s something very warm and generous about those regional American writers like Twain and Lee and Capote, and it seemed to be a literary ilk that would lend itself well to the Australian condition.”

Congratulations Craig on coming 9th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Craig Silvey’s author page


8. Markus Zusak

Markus Zusak grew up hearing stories about Nazi Germany, about the bombing of Munich and about Jews being marched through his mother’s small, German town. He always knew it was a story he wanted to tell.

“We have these images of the straight-marching lines of boys and the ‘Heil Hitlers’ and this idea that everyone in Germany was in it together. But there still were rebellious children and people who didn’t follow the rules and people who hid Jews and other people in their houses. So there’s another side to Nazi Germany,” said Zusak in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Our Pick

At just 37, Zusak has already asserted himself as one of today’s most innovative and poetic novelists. Upon the publication of The Book Thief he was dubbed a ‘literary phenomenon’ by Australian and U.S. critics. Zusak is also the award-winning author of four previous books for young adults: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, Getting the Girl, and I Am the Messenger, recipient of a 2006 Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature. He lives in Sydney.

Congratulations Markus on coming 8th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Markus Zusak’s author page


7. Bryce Courtenay

From the unlikeliest of beginnings, Bryce Courtenay’s sweeping epics found a place in the hearts of Australians everywhere.

Courtenay began writing novels at a relatively late stage in his life after over three decades in the advertising industry.

His first and arguably most well known book, The Power Of One, was first published in 1989 and was adapted soon after into an award-winning film.

His consistency of style and warmth of voice has kept readers enthralled since those early days, and he established himself as one of Australia’s most popular novelists.

Our Pick

It was with immense sadness that word came through earlier this year of his passing. He was a truly wonderful man and there is no better way to honour him than to remember the legacy he left on his beloved adopted homeland.

Congratulations Bryce on coming 7th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013. You will be missed.

Click here to go to Bryce Courtenay’s author page


6. Isobelle Carmody

Isobelle Carmody is Australia’s most highly acclaimed author of fantasy titles for older readers.

She began her first book, Obernewtyn, when she was fourteen and since then she has written some of our greatest works of fantasy. She is perhaps best known for her Obernewtyn Chronicles and for her novel The Gathering (joint winner of the 1993 Children’s Literature Peace Prize and the 1994 CBC Book of the Year Award).

Our Pick

Another of her novels, Greylands, was joint winner of the 1997 Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction – Young Adult Division, and was named a White Raven at the 1998 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. She has also written many short stories for both children and adults.

Isobelle divides her time between Prague in the Czech Republic and her home on the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Congratulations Isobelle on coming 6th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Isobelle Carmody’s author page


5. Ruth Park

Another in a long line of writers born elsewhere yet able to capture Australian life so beautifully, Ruth Park’s writing has had a lasting effect on both adults and children for over 60 years.

Born in Auckland to a Scottish father and a Swedish mother, Park moved to Australia in 1942 where she had lined up a job with another newspaper.

Her first novel was The Harp in the South, a graphic story of Irish slum life in Sydney, which has been translated into 37 languages. Even though it was acclaimed by literary critics, the book proved controversial with sections of the public due to its candour. It remains her most popular novel and has never been out of print.

Our Pick

Between 1946 and 2004, she received numerous awards for her contributions to literature in both Australia and internationally including the Miles Franklin Award for Swords and Crowns and Rings in 1977. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1987.

Congratulations Ruth on coming 5th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Ruth Park’s author page


4. John Marsden

A trained educator with a natural gift for storytelling, John Marsden is arguably Australia’s foremost writer of Young Adult fiction.

Whilst working at the prestigious Geelong Grammar School, Marsden made the decision to write for teenagers, following his dissatisfaction with his students’ apathy towards reading and the observation that teenagers simply weren’t reading any more. Marsden then wrote So Much To Tell You in only three weeks, and the book was published in 1987. The book sold record numbers and won numerous awards including “Book of the Year” as awarded by the Children’s Book Council of Australia.

In 1993 Marsden published Tomorrow, When the War Began the first book in the Tomorrow Series and his most acclaimed and best-selling work to date. Recently it was selected in the American Library Association list of 100 Best Books for Teens since 1966.

Our Pick

Marsden has won every major writing award in Australia for young people’s fiction, including what Marsden describes as one of the highlights of his career, the 2006 Lloyd O’Neil Award for contributions to Australian publishing. This award means that Marsden is one of only five authors to be honoured for lifelong services to the Australian book industry. John Marsden was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2008, the world’s largest children’s and youth literature award, and the second largest literature prize in the world.

Congratulations John on coming 4th in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to John Marsden’s author page


3. Monica McInerney

One of the stars of Australian fiction, Monica McInerney is the author of the internationally bestselling novels, A Taste for It, Upside Down Inside Out, Spin the Bottle, The Alphabet Sisters, Family Baggage, Those Faraday Girls and At Home with the Templetons. Those Faraday Girls was the winner of the General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards.

Her collection of short fiction, All Together Now, was shortlisted for the same award in 2009. At Home with the Templetons was shortlisted in the Popular Fiction category of the 2010 Irish Book Awards and in the Romantic Elements category of the 2011 Australian Romantic Book of the Year Awards.

Our Pick

In 2006 she was the ambassador for the Australian Government initiative Books Alive, with her novella Odd One Out.

Monica grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley of South Australia and has been living between Australia and Ireland for twenty years. She and her Irish husband currently live in Dublin.

Congratulations Monica on coming 3rd in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Monica McInerney’s author page


2. Tim Winton

One of the novelists of his generation, Tim Winton’s literary reputation was established early when his first novel, An Open Swimmer, won the 1981 Australian Vogel Award; his second novel Shallows, won the Miles Franklin Award in 1984; and his third book, Scission, a collection of short stories, won the West Australian Council Literary Award in 1985.

Winton’s fifth novel, Cloudstreet, the story of two working-class families rebuilding their lives, was a huge literary and commercial success. It has been a best seller since its publication in 1991 and was recently voted the most popular Australian novel by the Australian Society of Authors. Awards include National Book Council Banjo Award for Fiction, 1991; West Australian Fiction Award 1991; Deo Gloria Award (UK), 1991 and the 1992 Miles Franklin Award.

Our Pick

In 2001 his novel, Dirt Music, was published to considerable critical acclaim and impressive reviews. The book was shortlisted for the 2002 Mann Booker Prize and won the 2002 Miles Franklin Award, the West Australian Fiction Award and the Christina Stead Award for Fiction. Film rights have been optioned to Phil Noyce’s film company, Rumbalara Films, and Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz are signed to star in the film.

Winton’s last novel, Breath, was awarded the 2009 Miles Franklin Prize for Literature.

Congratulations Tim on coming 2nd in the vote for Australia’s Favourite Novelist for 2013.

Click here to go to Tim Winton’s author page


Early Favourite Tim Winton finds himself at number 2 in the voting!

Quite the upset, but who pipped him at the post? Come back at 2pm to see who was voted Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

While you wait, Booktopia has a huge weekend for you. Not only do we have one of our famous Flash Sales, with books discounted by up to 90%, but we also have free shipping on all orders placed before midnight on Monday night.

All you need to do is use the free shipping code HOLIDAY at the checkout to get free shipping on as many books, as many orders as you like. It’s that easy.

We’ll see you back at 2pm to unveil the people’s champion, Australia’s Favourite Novelist.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,078 other followers

%d bloggers like this: