We caught up with Rachael Johns to learn about her writing routines, favourite rom-coms and new book The Other Bridget.
Where did the inspiration for The Other Bridget come from?
As with all books, it came from a few different places.
I have always wanted to write about a librarian because they get to work with books all day, which is my idea of a dream job.
I am also obsessed with Bridget Jones. I've loved the series from the first book. I've read all the different books and seen all the movies. I just love Bridget, so that was part of it.
Initially, the book was inspired by an email exchange with a friend I do writing sprints with. She had been on and off the phone to the hospital because she got a text message saying that her son had an appointment at the hospital, but she didn't know anything about it.
It turned out that it was someone with her son's exact name and birth date. She said it was ‘the other [insert son’s name]’, and I thought it sounded like a good title.
The idea for the title came into my head: The Other Bridget Jones, which has now transformed into The Other Bridget.
From there, I thought about the love triangle in Bridget Jones, so I knew there had to be a love triangle and a quirky cast of secondary characters in my story.
What are writing sprints?
Writing sprints are basically how I get my words down during the day. I have a friend I write with, and we encourage each other. It's a bit of a competition!
Social media, email and everything else are huge distractions, so we tell each other that we won't do anything but write for the next half an hour. No emails. No Facebook. No patting the dog or looking in the fridge. Just writing.
At the end of the half-hour, we report back to each other saying how much we've written, so it encourages us both to write more words throughout the day.
Like Bridget, you were inspired to try new things after a break-up when you were seventeen. You broke up with your first boyfriend and turned to writing to mend your broken heart. Can you tell us a bit about how that went down and how it has led to your career now?
It went down accidentally! I accidentally broke up with the love of my life.
I had been obsessed with him all through high school, and we started going out in year twelve because he asked me to the ball. I think he only did that because he knew I would definitely say yes.
We started going out, and it was wonderful. Then one day, he said something towards me that I didn't really like, and I said, ‘You know, I don't think this is working out’ hoping he'd say, ‘No, Rachael, I'm so sorry, you’re the love of my life. Don't leave me!’ But instead, he said, ‘Yeah. I think you're right.’
I was totally heartbroken.
I hadn't been a massive reader in high school, so it was very surprising that over the summer holidays when I was heartbroken, I just started writing the story of me and him. It was shockingly bad, but in the process, I caught the bug; I loved it.
If you had to change your name to the name of a rom-com heroine, what name would you choose?
I have an answer to that, because a few years ago I was considering an alter ego. My grandma was called Daisy, and I like that name. And then one of my grandad's family names was Campbell. So I think I'd go with Daisy Campbell.
The first time Bridget meets her new neighbour, she makes a bad impression. To apologise, she bakes him her mum's famous banana bread. If you were trying to say sorry for something, what would your go-to bake be?
Did you have any special writing routine while working on this book, apart from the writing sprint?
I drink Diet Coke when I'm writing, so that gets me in the zone. I also had a couple of photos from the original Bridget Jones up on my board. I love it; it’s like a real-life Pinterest.
Do you have a favourite romance novel? If so, what is it?
Well, it's Bridget Jones's Diary. Aside from that, there have been so many great romance novels published in recent years, but I think my favourite would be Beach Read by Emily Henry.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
My biggest piece of advice is boring, but it's just to read and write.
I was always told: ‘You should write what you know’, but even now, I don't really know that much about anything. Instead, I think you should write what you love or what you want to know.
Write in the genre you are most passionate about and that you love the most because that will come across on the page. Write characters you enjoy, things you want to research and are passionate about.
Just have fun with your writing, and hopefully, it'll be the most authentic thing you can do.
What is your favourite romance trope?
I love ‘second chance romance’, but I also really love ‘grumpy sunshine’ because I love a grumpy person.
In real life, they’re annoying. But in fiction grumpy people make me laugh. Plus, you know they’ll be redeemed and happy by the end.
If there's one thing you want your readers to take away from this book, what would that be?
I hope that anyone who reads this book (or any other commercial romance) realises that just because it is light and entertaining, that doesn't mean it can't have serious issues and importance at its heart.
I hope reading The Other Bridget will show people how books can be healing and help you through tough times.
Was writing about the power of books purposeful, or did it happen subconsciously?
It was a conscious thing. When I started, I knew I wanted to explore the healing power of books. They’re not miracle cures, but the right book can help people in terms of mental health or physical health. A book is not going to fix your life, but it can (alongside other medicines or therapy) make life more enjoyable.
Interested? Start reading The Other Bridget here!
Your chance to win an exclusive The Other Bridget Book Pack.
A feelgood romantic comedy by Australia's bestselling romance writer.
From authors including Rachael Johns, Amor Towles, Leigh Bardugo and so many others!
Learn about Alex Michaelides’s new book, the real-life people who inspired his characters and how growing up in Cyprus contributed to the setting.
We caught up with the co-authors of Elevate to learn more about their work, their goals for 2024, and their best advice for getting out of a slump.
Debut author Jessica Seaborn shares a few things that helped her get her debut novel, Perfect-ish, published.
‘Dolly has done it again.’
Check out our top-selling fiction books this year.
These are the Penguin Random House books that over 48,000 book clubs voted as the best group reads this October.
Lessons in Chemistry is getting TV treatment with a new Apple TV+ series based on the book. Learn more about it here.
A guide to author Anne Enright and her books.
Feeling sad that the Women’s World Cup is over? Find out why reading Love Match will fill the void.