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.
By 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.
How 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.
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.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
Follow Andrew: Twitter