About the author:
Rachael Johns, an English teacher by trade and a mum 24/7, is the bestselling ABIA-winning author of The Patterson Girls and a number of other romance and women’s fiction books including The Art of Keeping Secrets, The Greatest Gift and Lost Without You. She is currently Australia’s leading writer of contemporary relationship stories around women’s issues, a genre she has coined ‘life-lit’. Rachael lives in the Perth hills with her hyperactive husband, three mostly gorgeous heroes-in-training and a very badly behaved dog. She rarely sleeps and never irons.
Your latest book, Just One Wish, is an engrossing and wise novel about ambition, choices and what it means to be a woman. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
Just One Wish is a novel about three generations of women, the complex relationships they have with each other and how these relationships have shaped who they are and their views on feminism. The protagonist, Ged, has grown up feeling torn between the very conflicting views and values of her mother (a self-declared happy housewife) and her grandmother (a scientist and famous feminist) and she thinks she knows both of them extremely well. When things happen to challenge her beliefs and her opinions about the women closest to her, she starts to wonder if she really knows either of them at all, which also makes her question who she is and the woman she wants to be. In addition to the complex relationship between the three women, there are also other relationships in there, which were a lot of fun to write about. There’s a love triangle, a little bit of old boyfriend stalking on cruise-ships, an Elvis obsession and also something to do with Mars. Can’t say much more because…spoilers!
What inspired this novel?
As with most of my books, there were a number of small seeds of inspiration, things I was interested in and thought I’d like to write about, but it took a few years for me to work out how these little seeds could fit together. My inspiration process is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The seeds for this one included a cruise I went on with author friend Fiona Palmer, reading an article about people Facebook-stalking old boyfriends, listening to author Lauren Groff talk about her views on marriage and also reading an article about New Domesticity. I also wanted to write about the complex but special relationships between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters. In the last few years there’s been a lot in the media about feminism and I wanted to explore what it means to be a woman in today’s world and all the above little seeds of inspiration helped me do this.
What do you hope the reader will take away from reading Just One Wish?
Primarily I hope they’ll have fun reading it and be able to identify with different parts of each woman. To me the book was a little bit of an exploration of what feminism means to me in today’s era and, as with all my books, I hope that readers might think about some of the issues in the book and it may challenge them to think about their own values and beliefs. The writing and researching of many of my books have shaped and moulded who I am over the years and I believe reading does the same.
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
Popular culture, podcasts, people-watching and my fascination with all sorts of relationships are probably my biggest influences. Most of my books have a central theme of identity and how family relationships shape this, even though I never set out to write about this specifically.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m lucky that now I write full-time and all my children are at school, so I work mostly school hours, Monday to Friday. These days I get home from school drop-off and head straight into my office. I spend half an hour to an hour in what I call my ‘faffing period’ – checking emails, answering messages, doing social media, etc – and then I spend another half an hour or so ‘getting in the zone’. This involves reading over the last chapter I wrote, doing minor editing and also writing notes about what I want to achieve in the chapter/scene I plan to write that day. After that I write in half an hour chunks (or sprints) which I do with a writing friend in Adelaide, author Beck Nicholas. We report back in with each other after each sprint to say how many words we’ve written. I find this is a really good way to achieve a high word count each day. Of course, things don’t always go to plan – kids get sick, there are appointments I have to go to, the book isn’t playing nice – and so sometimes I have to work on the weekend as well to try to meet my weekly word goal.
I’m currently writing what I hope will be next year’s ‘life-lit’ novel – titled Flying The Nest. I’m having so much fun with this story, which is set in two locations and is about nest parenting, a long-distance relationship and most importantly, a woman’s constant battle between doing what’s right for herself and keeping everyone else in her life safe and happy.