Over the next few weeks I’ll be talking to a number of writers about their creative process. Today on the blog I talk to Australian fiction writer Rachael Johns.
Rachael is a Rural Romance writer who has had great success with her debut novel Jilted and has just released Man Drought (love the cover Rachael).
Welcome to Flying Pony Rachael, and thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom.
1.What activities (other than writing) get your creative juices flowing?All the things I don’t want to do – washing up, hanging out the washing, vacuuming. If I’m stuck, housework or chores is a sure fire way to get my brain wishing it was writing. There’s also going for walks/runs and having a shower. I guess as a writer, you think about your story pretty much all the time – often the best snippets of inspiration come when you’re away from the computer!
2. What sort of writing routine do you have – disciplined or undisciplined, regular or erratic, focused or easily distracted?
I try to be disciplined because I get limited windows of opportunity for writing. With three young kids, one not at full-time school yet, I try to schedule two full writing days and write as much as I can on those days. In addition to this, I write quite a few nights a week and try to squeeze time on the weekend when the kids are watching a movie or something. I’m VERY easily distracted by the internet though
3. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if so what do you do about it?
Yes. I’m not sure if it’s writer’s block or just self-doubt but about midway through each book I’m writing, I usually get stuck. I have an idea where the story is going but have never been able to skip ahead and write scenes out of order. Most of the time I just write-through and hope the writing isn’t as bad as I think. I also find reading back over my manuscript helps or sitting down to read someone else’s book.
4. Which aspects of the writing life do you most love?
The bits that aren’t hard work – lol! Like seeing a cover for the first time, spotting my own book in an actual shop and of course attending Romance Writers of Australia conferences in glamorous hotels with my gorgeous writing friends. Unfortunately, these things happen at most once or twice a year, so luckily I also love the buzz of sitting down in front of my computer and creating two people on a rocky road to Happily Ever After. Starting a new story is the best feeling ever. I love beginnings the best!
5. Which aspects do least love (or detest!)?
I least love revisions and writing the end of a story. I always worry that I haven’t taken all the aspects of the book to their full potential and that I could have done more to make it a better book.
6. What books and writers have most influenced your own writing?
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding got me back into reading in my early teens and that led me to writing. When I started writing Mills & Boon, the first book I read was Barbara Hannay’s Having The Boss’s Babies and I still adore her stories.
7. Can you describe for us your writing process, from getting the original idea to completed manuscript?
My process is very airy-fairy and I continually make resolutions that I will grow a better process for the next book. I usually start with the seed of a premise – for instance in my new book MAN DROUGHT I knew I wanted to write about someone reviving a country pub but it wasn’t until I read an article about towns with hardly any female population that the idea really started to grow. From here, I thought about the type of characters I needed. My heroine came first in this book and looking back, I think that is often the case. I work out who my hero and heroine are, give them goals, motivations and conflicts and then I basically just sit down and start typing. I’m not a big plotter and never write an outline (unless my editor wants it first) but I do have an idea of the major scenes in the story and how it will end before I sit down to write.
8. Describe your path to publication.
I had been writing for fifteen years when I finally got a book contract from Carina Press. In that time I’d done a degree in writing at university, clocked up a number of rejections and discovered Romance Writer’s of Australia. I discovered RWA when I decided to try my hand at writing for Mills & Boon. It wasn’t until I took this step that my writing really took over but it was another five years before publication. In this time, I worked really hard pursuing publication – finalled in a number of writing contests and came runner-up in a world-wide Mills & Boon writing contest. After working with an editor for over a year, I got told to sub via the slush pile again. This was disheartening and I was ready to give up Mills & Boon, but at that stage Harlequin had just launched their digital only imprint Carina Press (www.carinapress.com), so I sent my last rejected story. THEY bought it!! I couldn’t believe it. Through this I got to go to the Harlequin authors dinner at an RWA conference and there I met the editor who eventually bought my book. I’m glad it took this long to get published, because the stories I wrote when I first started out are cringeworthy and also along this journey, I’ve met some amazing people. I think the long wait, also made the joy of finally making it even sweeter!
9. What advice would you give to writers who are working towards publication?
Just do it! Seems simple but it’s true. Read, write, submit. You can’t be a writer if you don’t read widely. You can’t finish a book if you don’t write. And you can’t submit if you don’t finish a book. You’ll never get published if you don’t put your work out there. And join an organisation like Romance Writers of Australia (www.romanceaustralia.com) – even if you don’t strictly write romance I would recommend this one for the support, conferences and opportunities that come through being a member.
To Contact Rachael:
Blog – www.rachaeljohns.wordpress.com
Website – www.rachaeljohns.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RachaelJohns
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachael-Johns/260103224001776
Man Drought – January 1st 2013, Harlequin Australia (currently only available in Aus/NZ territories)
Imogen Bates moved to the small rural town of Gibson’s Find to start a new life for herself after the death of her husband. Tired of being haunted by the painful memories of her old life, Imogen set her last remaining hopes on the little town and, in particular, pouring her heart and savings into restoring The Majestic Hotel to its former glory. But while the female-starved town might be glad to see a young woman move in, not everyone is happy about Imogen’s arrival.
Sheep and crop farmer Gibson Black once dreamed of having the kind of family his grandfather reminisces about, but he’s learnt not to dream anymore. Living in the mostly male town suits Gibson down to the ground…and he won’t have anyone — least of all a hot redhead from the city — change a thing.
Imogen has never been one to back down from a challenge, especially when it concerns her last chance at happiness. She’s determined to rebuild the pub and create a future for the little town. But can she create a future for Gibson and herself, too?
To buy links:
Harlequin Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781460892978