Fabulous Fiction with Stella Quinn and June 2021 guest Rachael Johns
Welcome to Fabulous Fiction, a blog by Stella Quinn which celebrates books so good, you just want to hug them when you’re done reading.
Rachael Johns’ novels are warm and wise and filled with people you can recognise. I was hooked after reading Jilted, stayed up into the wee hours to finish Man Drought, and now it’s time to jump genres (and countries) in the wonderful How to Mend a Broken Heart.
What is the world saying?
“a page-turning combination of heart, wit and wisdom” [bettereading.com.au]
“I was captured from the first page and didn’t want to put the book down” [JanniT, via booktopia.com.au]
STELLA: Tell us a little about your book, Rachael
How to Mend a Broken Heart is a novel about three women who have suffered different forms of betrayal and their journey to recovery (or not). In additional to the mother-daughter storyline, it also involves a modern day Miss Havisham character, a bit of romance, music, art, taxidermy, intrigue and a possible ghost! Oh and did I mention its set in fabulous New Orleans.
STELLA: Okay, now let’s get to know the author behind the book!
Once upon a time Rachael Johns was briefly an English teacher, now she’s a mum, a chronic arachnophobic and a novelist. She rarely sleeps and never irons. A lover of romance and women’s fiction, Rachael loves nothing more than sitting in bed with her laptop and electric blanket and imagining her own stories.
Rachael has finaled in a number of competitions, including the Australian Romance Readers Awards. Jilted (her first rural romance) won Favourite Australian Contemporary Romance in 2012 and she was voted in #13 of Booktopia’s Favourite Australian Author poll in 2018. The Patterson Girls won the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY Award and also the 2015 Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction.
Rachael lives in the Swan Valley with her hyperactive husband, three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training, a ginger cat, a cantankerous bird and a very badly behaved dog.
Rachael loves to hear from readers and can be contacted via her website – www.rachaeljohns.com She is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Fabulous Fiction Q & A
STELLA: Fabulous fiction stays with us long after we have finished reading. Rachael, why will readers find How to Mend a Broken Heart a book they’ll want to hold close (a hugworthy book, we call this on the Fabulous Fiction blog)?
RACHAEL: This is my first book in which the setting – New Orleans – is truly one of the characters and so I think (particularly at the moment) that readers will want to climb inside the pages of the book because it is almost as good as going on an actual overseas holiday. The two love interests are also to-die-for, not only all-round good guys, but warm, funny and sexy in their own unique ways. Theo is a jazz pianist/bar owner and Jack is a ghost hunter! But mostly I think readers will find this book hugworthy because I DO and when an author is passionate about their book and found joy in writing it, then it’s much more likely a reader will feel the same!
STELLA: I heard you talk about your own “ghost” experience in one of your live events. I don’t think I would have be talking about such an event so calmly. My friend Carys thinks she was (ahem) grappled by a ghost at an old house in New Zealand ... the rest of us (I was hiking with a group) refused to go upstairs alone from that night on.
STELLA: Do you have a favourite genre to read? To write?
RACHAEL: I read widely – almost everything except horror, fantasy and sci-fi – but I write in two genres (rural romance and contemporary women’s fiction). The truth is when I’m writing a rural romance I often wish I was writing a women’s fiction as I forget that both bring their own challenges and I somehow think if I were doing the other it would be easier ;)
STELLA: When YOU read, what are the “must haves” in a book for you to love it ? (For me it’s character: there has to be someone that I love)
RACHAEL: The characters must feel like REAL, three-dimensional people to me and they must be interesting. Nothing turns me off more than BORING characters!
STELLA: Has a reader let you know the special something in any of your books that has touched them? (I have a major tissue-sniffle session whenever a book has an old, grey-whiskered dog in it)
RACHAEL: Pretty much every reader who has contacted me about The Greatest Gift got angry at me because it made them cry!
STELLA: What are your dealbreakers? The things that make you throw a book across a room? (For me it’s sadistic pleasure, or when my hero is done away with – think Buffy running a sword through Baby Booth. No way was I returning to that show.)
RACHAEL: Deal breakers is when I’m TOLD about the chemistry, attraction and connection between characters but I don’t actually FEEL or believe it. I want to understand WHY these two are more perfect for each other than anyone else!
STELLA: How likely is it that you would be crushed if a meteor landed in your backyard and your TBR pile fell on you while you were sleeping? What are some of the books in there at the moment?
RACHAEL: SNORT – I’m a lost cause when it comes to my TBR pile. I will NEVER conquer it, simply because I continue to add to it at a rate far faster than I actually read. I’ve got lots of recent releases and also books I’ve been meaning to get to for years. Currently I have lots of Elin Hilderbrands in my sights because I discovered her a couple of years ago and am still making my way through her backlist. Total fangirl!!
STELLA: How busy does writing life make you? Are you snowed under? Do you have to put limits on your reading and writing and social media so you don’t get burnout?
RACHAEL: I SHOULD put limits on social media and I am being more prescriptive about when I allow myself online, but I don’t put limits on my reading. If anything I’d like to read more and I find all the ways I can to read as much as possible – I read every night, make sure I steal snatches of time on the weekend and I also listen to audio books so I can devour books while cleaning, driving and running.
STELLA: Have you ever caught the bingewatching bug and lost your reading or writing mojo? What was the binge show?
RACHAEL: I actually watch VERY little TV and although I don’t love every book I read I can’t say I’ve ever been in a long reading slump. Often feel like I need to find my writing mojo, but that’s why I read, because reading reminds me why I love writing.
Now for the nitty-gritty:
Favourite Australian holiday destination? Tambourine Mountain but I haven’t been to Tasmania and I’d really like to go there too.
What’s your preferred drop? Diet Coke ;)
[Stella butting in: I had a feeling we’d be besties if we didn’t live on opposite sides of the country #dietcoketragic]
Guilty pleasure? Too much brie cheese!!
Pet peeve: My sons leaving their wet towels on the floor!
Favourite fictional couple and why? Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy.
If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be? Brie Cheese and Diet Coke (although I’d argue Diet Coke is essential).
Writers you wish you could invite over for coffee? Elin Hilderbrand and Marian Keyes.
Best thing about being a writer? Getting messages from readers letting you know your books have touched them in some way.
Worst thing about being a writer? The self-doubt and anxiety!
You’re about to be stuck on the space station and you can take a crime novel OR a romance novel – what would you pick? I’d take a romantic suspense by Nora Roberts because they are a little bit crime AND a little bit romance.
TV/film crush: Not huge on celebrities but I’d probably go Scott Eastwood.
The silliest thing I ever won was…A quick draw Australia contest.
Top three things favourite places to read? Bed, bed and bed!
What themes do you love to see shining through in a book? Identity and friendship.
Pineapple on pizza, yes or no? HELL YEAH!
Chocolate should be kept in the fridge, yes or no? Nope
Holiday: beach or bush? Bush.
Proudest writer moment? Winning the ABIA for General Fiction for The Patterson Girls.
Three fun facts about you:
I didn’t meet my dad till I was seventeen
I wrote a non-fiction book about breastfeeding
I almost failed my honour degree in writing!
Keep in touch with Rachael Johns
Rachael’s newsletter subscription can be found at her website www.rachaeljohns.com
Rachael’s book’s buy links can be found at https://amzn.to/3eXOjb2
[Stella’s just butting in here again to say if you haven’t found Rachael John’s Book Club on Facebook yet ... as Molly Meldrum would say, do yourself a favour. Loads of book chit-chat from readers, hilarious stories that start with “went to Big W to buy pegs” and end with “look at these shiny new novels that accidentally fell into my trolley”.]
About your blogger, Stella Quinn
When Stella Quinn isn’t sitting in the sun scribbling in a notebook, she can be found walking her dog, roaming her neighbourhood in search of the perfect latte, or thrashing her children at scrabble. She grew up in England, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Australia, and spent five (long!) years at boarding school in country Queensland.
Stella writes contemporary romance novels that are warm-hearted and filled with characters you want to be best friends with. She loves rural small-town settings, island settings, and everyday heroes. Imagine if Sea Change and Virgin River had a series of fictitious bookbabies ... they’re the books Stella writes.
She has two rural romances being published by Harlequin, and The Vet from Snowy River is out now. https://bit.ly/3xasivP
Her series include The Island Escape Series and she is an author for Sweet Promise Press’s Gold Coast Retrievers Series.
Stella Quinn’s awards in the fabulous world of romance include winning the Valerie Parv Award in 2018, winning the Sapphire Award in 2019 and 2020, winning the Emerald Award in 2017 and coming second in the Sapphire in 2018. Stella was shortlisted in the Australian Society of Authors/HQ Fiction Commercial Fiction Award in 2020, and in the 2020 Ruby Award for best contemporary romance. With her writing group (who published a Christmas anthology of novellas) she was shortlisted by ARRA for best small-town contemporary romance in 2019.
Follow Stella Quinn online: