Nine Naughty Questions
1. I wonder, is a Romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.
I was made from heartache mixed with a liberal dose of teenage dramatics. I’d never been a huge reader in school (aside from the entire Babysitters series) but I was a mad romantic, crushing on the same guy for almost five years. We ended up “together” for five months and when we broke up at the end of year twelve I was devastated. I thought my life was over and for some reason turned to writing as a form of therapy. I wrote 80000 terrible words about me and that guy but by the end of it, I’d caught the bug. It took me fifteen years after this before I finally got published. During those fifteen years I also did a writing degree, became a teacher, got married, had three kids and moved to the bush.
2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why Romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?
I think romance readers rock and I love that they are as invested in the characters as me as a writer. I think the reason they’re invested and devoted is because romance characters usually experience universal emotions – love, grief, anger, loss, etc – that make them easy to relate to and barrack for. Romance, although it can take readers on a rollercoaster of highs and lows, guarantees a happy ending and in today’s often sad world, I think this feel-good escape is wonderful. Obviously all my books have a little part of me in, but I don’t feel exposed.
3. Please tell us about your latest novel…
The Road to Hope is linked to my first book Jilted and is about nurse Lauren Simpson and Doctor Tom Lewis. Lauren featured in Jilted and I myself had nicknamed her The Nasty Nurse, never intending to use her as the heroine in a future book. However I had such great feedback from readers wanting to go back to Hope Junction that I decided to write another book set in that town. The Road to Hope is a story about overcoming life’s hurtles and making the best of what is thrown at you. It’s about giving yourself and others a second chance. It’s mostly set in a rural hospital and nursing home and so there are a whole host of elderly eccentric characters which were hugely fun to write about. And for those readers who loved Jilted, you’ll be pleased to hear The Road to Hope opens at Flynn and Ellie’s wedding.
4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?
Hmm… I’d like to tell you that it is but the truth is that aside from a few times a year when I hang out with writer friends at conferences and wine and dine, my life is pretty much the same as any other working mum. I get up, organise everyone for school, drop them off, come home do laundry, emails, etc and then sit at my laptop and pray for words. I’m interrupted by school carnivals, sick kids, dogs that need walking… I think you get the picture. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have a job I can do from home and, in winter, from my bed with my electric blanket on. What’s better than that?
5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?
It’s very sad but I can’t think of many truly romantic moments – maybe I’m hard to please or maybe the lack of them is why I turned to writing romance. One pretty special day for me was when my husband proposed. He’d asked me (hypothetically) what I would like in an ideal proposal and I told him chocolate, champagne, fairy lights, rain and all my pets (at the time I had two guinea pigs, two budgies and a cat). Three months later it was raining and he whisked me out onto his patio. He had fairy lights strung across the awnings, chocolate, wine and all pets out there as well. He got down on bended knee and asked me to be his wife. After he went to all the trouble of getting the animals organised, of course I said yes. It may not have been everyone’s idea of romance, but I think that’s what makes a good romance novel – the romantic moments are tailored very specifically to the hero and heroine of that book. What works for one couple, would seem wrong for another.
6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?
In my books I don’t close the door but neither do I explicitly describe the sex scenes. The heat levels also vary from book to book depending on the characters. To me the emotion is the key to writing a truly fulfilling sex scene – I want to be inside the characters’ heads as much as their bodies when they are making love, to see/know how their feelings and opinions are changing and growing about their lover and also about themselves. Sex in a book shouldn’t be gratuitous, it should change things and be absolutely essential to the plot, otherwise I don’t want to read (or write) about it.
7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?
1. Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding – This was the book that brought me back to reading in my early twenties and one of the few novels I’ve re-read.
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – classic romance. I simply love Austen’s heroes, especially in this book.
3. Faking It by Jennifer Crusie – a book that had me laughing pretty much on every page. The sex scene stood out as being fresh and funny, not clichéd at all.
4. Northern Lights by Nora Roberts – my first ever Nora Roberts book and one of the books that got me hooked on romance.
5. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – the only book I read in high school and a story that stayed with me.
8. Erotic Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?
I think it’s always been hot, just before a certain book came out a few years ago and took the world by storm no one that read erotic romance admitted to it.
9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?
Read and write – it’s really as simple as that. I don’t understand when I hear writers say they are not readers. To me, these passions go hand in hand and you can learn a lot from reading other people’s work. Oh and when you are ready, submit your work to publishers. It took me a long while to realise that one of the reasons I wasn’t getting published was because I wasn’t putting my work out there.
Thanks for joining us Rachael!
by Rachael Johns
Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.
Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.
When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?
A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.