What can I say about best-selling, award-winning Australian author Rachael Johns? Every other romance author in Australia should hate her out of sheer envy at her success – except that she’s so fabulous we can’t do without her! Hugely talented, excessively charming, incredibly generous, and it seems that she can write anything and make it wonderful. But today, I’m thrilled that Rachael has opted to share a very particular novel with us, The Art of Keeping Secrets, just released in North America.
Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. 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 lives in the Perth Hills with her hyperactive husband, three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training, a ginger cat, a cantankerous bird and a very badly behaved dog.
They started out as the "misfit moms"—the trio of less-than-conventional parents at their sons' tony private school. They've shared everything. Or so they thought. Now, on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City, they'll sightsee, they'll shop, they'll catch a few Broadway shows. They'll tell all…
After seventeen years as a single parent, Neve will reveal a past sin that could destroy her relationship with her son. Emma will uncover the roots of her exhaustion and divulge the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And Flick—who knows a little about crafting a flawless exterior—will share the shocking truth that lies beneath the veneer of her perfect marriage.
When the tight hold they've each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if the truth will forever alter the course of their friendship and their lives.
Read a little, buy the book...
As their waiter retreated, Emma took a sip of her sparkling water and Flick’s phone beeped. She glanced down at where it sat beside them on the table, then sucked in a breath. Her cheeks flared red.
‘What it is?’ Emma asked.
‘Nothing. Just an old friend I met last night requesting friendship on Facebook.’
‘Jeremy?’ Neve exclaimed. ‘You’re not going to accept, are you?’
Emma had no idea who they were talking about.
Flick shrugged. ‘Why wouldn’t I? It was nice to see him again.’
‘Nice? The way you two were acting it looked a lot more than nice.’
‘Could someone fill me in?’ Emma asked, wondering what exactly she’d missed by going to bed early.
‘Flick met an old boyfriend in the bar last night and things got pretty damn cozy.’
‘What?’ Flick spluttered, her eyes wide. ‘For one, he was never my boyfriend and for two, things weren’t cozy. We were just catching up.’
Neve raised her eyebrows. ‘And would your catching up have been any different if your husband had been there?’
But Neve had to be overreacting – she’d had an emotional night and drank a fair bit – no way Flick would ever do anything to jeopardize her relationship with Seb. Emma scrutinized her friend’s face as they waited for her answer.
‘That’s none of your business,’ Flick said finally.
Worry lodged itself in Emma’s throat. Where was Flick’s defense that of course she’d act the same if Seb had been there?
‘I beg to differ.’ Neve leaned forward, encroaching across the table into Flick’s personal space. ‘You’re a good friend, Flick, but so is Seb. He dotes on you and the kids, he’s a great father and the best darn husband I’ve ever known. Not many men would stay up so they could pick up their wife from a drunken night out with her friends you know. I don’t like to think of you…’
Flick slammed her hand against the table top, rattling the silver cutlery. ‘Can you just stop going on and on about how bloody wonderful Seb is? Sometimes I think the two of you are more in love with him than I am, but things on the inside aren’t always as they look on the outside. And you don’t have the patent on secrets, Neve.’
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Avril: Tell us a bit about how you career has progressed from first book to now…
Avril: Tell us a bit about how you career has progressed from first book to now…
Rachael: It was a LONG process from first deciding to be a writer to finally getting that magical offer of publication. I started writing after accidentally dumping (yes, you read that right) my first love in the last year of high school – I was absolutely broken by the break up and thought my life was over. For some reason (and I’d never been a writer or a big reader before this), I turned to writing. I wrote the story of me and that guy, but instead of breaking up with him I gave him a horrific disease and killed him off. It was really good therapy but I also caught the writing bug. Almost a decade later (after a writing degree at uni, and many, many years of rejections), I fell in love with category romance and decided to try my hand at that. I got super close but didn’t quite make it, until after another five years, I sold one of my “Mills & Boon rejects” to Carina Press. Around this time, I also decided to try a different form of writing – single title rural romance (which in Australia is a popular genre of romance books set in small country towns). While this book was on submission (after so many rejections), writing was starting to become a chore rather than the joy it always was, so I decided to give myself one last ditch attempt and write something I wanted to read rather than what I thought someone might want to publish. I wrote about a small town, a runaway bride and the revival of a theatrical society and finally sold this book to Harlequin Australia. Since then I’ve written 21 books (eight rural romances, three women’s fiction and a number of digital novellas) and I’m still learning and growing with each new book. I hope I can keep doing this for many more years to come.
Avril: Romance – women’s fiction. You write both, but what’s the crossover for readers?
Rachael: To me the difference between my romance books and my women’s fiction books is that the romances are primarily about the relationship journey of a couple, whereas the women’s fiction books are also about relationships but more so the relationships between family and/or friends. I find that my romance readers also enjoy my women’s fiction, but perhaps not all my women’s fiction readers try my romance. I actually think if they gave them a shot, they’d probably enjoy them as I think my voice is the same across both genres and both forms of stories offer the same emotional kind of read.
Avril: What would you say are the key elements of a good story?
Rachael: Personally I love books that are about quirky characters with interesting traits and unique careers, but I also want these characters to be relatable. Even in romance and women’s fiction books, I like a bit of suspense and by that I don’t mean a murder or a crime, but I like to be kept guessing when I read to a certain extent. Nothing is worse for me than a truly predictable plot and as a writer it’s a constant challenge for me to achieve a compelling, page-turning one instead!
Avril: What are you favorite types of settings and why?
Rachael: I do love a good small town novel as these communities are very appealing to me on a number of levels – I like the fact that in a small town everyone knows everything about everyone else, or so they think. This can be great fodder for drama and conflict. But I also like reading about places I’ve been and loved or places I’d like to visit. I’m obsessed with New Orleans and will read anything set there I can get my hands on. I would like to go back there one day and set a book there myself.
Avril: What’s in your TBR pile?
Rachael: What’s NOT in my TBR pile is probably a more accurate question. Seriously, I buy WAY more books than I will ever be able to read (as I’m sure many of your blog readers can relate to. Hey, there are worse addictions!). Currently I’m really looking forward to Jane Green’s The Sunshine Sisters and Michael Robotham’s The Secret She Keeps. I do love a good crime or psychological thriller; I think because this isn’t the genre I write in, I find it easier to read without trying to analyze what the author is doing!
Avril: What’s your pet hate as a reader?
Rachael: Hmm… that’s a tricky question. Probably characters who do things that don’t feel believable or react out of character to situations the author puts them in.
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The Art of Keeping Secrets.