Joanita Wibowo


5 minutes with author Rachael Johns

5 minutes with author Rachael Johns

In 5 minutes with authorOver60 asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next in this series is Rachael Johns, a romance writer and English teacher based in Perth. Her novel The Patterson Girls was named the Favourite Australian Contemporary Romance in the 2015 Australian Romance Readers Awards and General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards. Her latest book Something to Talk About is out now.

Over60 talked with Johns about Marian Keyes, stay at home activities, and her favourite romance tropes.

Over60: What is your best writing tip?

Rachael Johns: To be a writer you must also be a reader and you must read LOTS, inside and outside your genre. Read for pleasure but also with a critical eye, trying to learn from your favourite authors and the bestsellers.

How have you been holding up living with coronavirus restrictions?

As an author, I’m quite used to living a quiet life at home, but having my family around all the time has made being creative a little bit harder. I’m using the downtime when I can’t focus as much on writing to read lots, catch up on TV and have finally taken up knitting – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

 What was the last book that made you laugh?

The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer.

What do you think makes for great romance?

Chemistry, conflict and emotion. I love when there’s a lot of playful banter between the two main characters – when they’re clearly attracted to each other, but they can’t or don’t want to act on these feelings for some reason.

What does your writing routine look like?

I try to keep to school hours, Monday to Friday. First hour or so involves admin stuff – like emails, interviews, chatting with readers on Facebook/Instagram and then I get serious. I aim for about 2,000 words a day, and if I don’t make those words during the week, I try and make them up on the weekend.

Do you deal with writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Usually if I’m stuck mid-book it’s because I’m trying to make the characters do something that isn’t really true to their personality. Once I remember this, I go for a long walk or take a shower and try to brainstorm what else could happen instead that is within their character.

What trope grinds your gears? Alternatively, is there a cliché that you can’t help but love?

I’m not a fan of the really alpha male hero, but aside from that, I’m open to most romantic tropes. My top favourites however are ex-lovers reunited, friends to lovers, and a good love triangle.

Which author, deceased or living, would you most like to have dinner with?

Ooh, tough choice – can I really only pick one?! If so, I choose Marian Keyes – I’d love to pick her writing brain but also just hang out with her because she seems so warm and funny!