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Happy New Year everyone!  Welcome to our first newsletter of 2019.
This year in the Secret Life of Authors we’re taking you on a publishing journey. We hope to take you through every stage of a book’s life – from the initial idea right through to the book sitting on a shelf in your local bookstore. This month we’re focusing on the first stage – getting an idea for a story. We hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look into our writing world.
But before we get started we have some announcements!

Lisa, Sally and Rachael xxx

New Release for Sally!

Hi, this is Lisa here! Today is an exciting day for us because we’re celebrating the Australian release of Sally’s spectacular new book, The Mother-In-Law. Congratulations Sally!!! Cue the popping of champagne corks and throwing of streamers. Both Rachael and I have read this book already and we agree that it’s Sally’s best book yet, which is saying something considering her fabulous backlist. I honestly could not put this book down. It had me riveted all the way through and I kept thinking about it long after I’d finished reading. I really can’t wait to chat you all about it once you’ve read it too. You’ll find The Mother-In-Law in bookstores, department stores and online from today. And to catch Sally (and Lisa!) on tour, check out the tour dates here.


A twisty, compelling novel about one woman's complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder...

From the moment Lucy met her husband's mother, Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana was exquisitely polite, but Lucy knew she'd fallen short of what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law. 

That was ten years ago.

Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer.

But the autopsy finds no cancer.

The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation. 

Who could possibly want Diana dead? 

With Lucy's secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.

New Secret Life of Authors Facebook Group

We’ve had so much fun connecting with you all through this newsletter that we’ve decided to broaden our horizons and start a Secret Life of Authors Readers’ Group on Facebook. We know some of you have joined up already, and you hope you are enjoying the group so far. If you haven’t joined us yet and would like to you can find us by clicking here


Congratulations to the winners of our Christmas competition:
Sally’s mug: Dagmar Logan
Rachael’s mug: Carolyn Felton
Lisa’s mug: Christine Hann

All winners have been notified via email.

Competition Time!

This month we’re giving one lucky subscriber a chance to win a ticket to the Australian Romance Readers Association Romantic Rendezvous book signings, happening in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. For more details about the event click here.

To enter our contest, simply email and tell us which city you’d like a ticket to if you win!

Contest closes  February 1st and the winner will be notified by email and announced in our next newsletter.

Sally Hepworth

Rachel Johns

What I've been up to

As it is release day, I am probably driving around town with my publicist. Which means I am likely very happy. This is probably a good time to tell you that my very favourite thing about being an author is hanging out with my publicist. Not only is Lucy the nicest person in the world, it is literally her job to make my life easier. YES! If I’m thirsty, she has water. If I’m hungry, she has a muesli bar in her handbag (remind me to tell you all about the muesli bar incident—a story for next time). If I have a headache, she has Panadol. If I need a pen to sign books, she’s standing there holding one out to me. I am honestly obsessed with her. Whenever I return home from tour I am utterly appalled that I have to start getting my own food and beverages and it takes me months to adjust.  My one wish for the world is that everyone have a Lucy, at least for a week a year like I do.
That is all.

Fave read so far of the year: THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris.

Where Did I Get The Idea For The Mother In Law?

Sally Hepworth

I am constantly being asked where I get my ideas. The short answer is that I usually get my ideas from asking myself: ‘What if?’
What if … a midwife concealed her own pregnancy for six months, and then refused to tell anyone the paternity of her child?
What if … a woman fell in love while she was losing her memory?
What if … a single mother with no family or friends was diagnosed with terminal cancer?
What if … the family next door was hiding something big?
What if … your mother in law, to whom you were never close, was found dead, and the circumstances were suspicious?
(That last what if is the question that spurned my most recent novel (releasing today!) The Mother In Law. )
But before I get to the ‘What if’ part, there is usually a spark that gets me interested in a certain topic.
So what sparked this idea?
Well, let’s just say that it is not a coincidence that my British in-laws were staying with me when I came up with the idea for this book. In fact, they were with us for 6 weeks following the birth of my third child.
But it’s not what you think. It was my father in law, whom I am very fond of, who inspired this book. He’s a talker, you see. God love him, he doesn’t stop talking from the moment he gets up, to the moment he goes to sleep. Doesn’t matter if I’m on the phone, wrangling children, preparing a meal—he’s talking. He doesn’t require much in response from me, just the occasional head nod. Still, after a while, it can get tiring.
One day, for a bit of peace and quiet, I decided to take the baby for a walk. She was a bit unsettled, and I thought it would do us both some good to get out of the house. What do you think happened?
Yep. Peter decided to join us.
He decided it could be a good opportunity for us to work on my next book idea. Us! Given the fact that I had just given birth, I didn’t have an idea for my next book and Peter though this was something we could remedy together. You know that saying that everyone has an idea for a book, but not many have any idea how to write one?
Peter has thousands of ideas for books and no idea how to write one.
I think he was on idea 9672 when I finally had a brilliant idea. I turned to Peter and announced that I was going to write a book about a woman who murders her father-in-law!”
Surprisingly, my father in law was delighted by this idea, and proceeded to talk to me about it for the rest of his stay. He decided that he would need to accompany me on my book tour and that if it ever became a movie, he’d be the one to walk me down the red carpet and it was about this time that I made a slight adjustment to the premise.
A mother-in-law who is murdered.
My father in law is still not speaking to me (which is an utter relief.)

Lisa Ireland

What I’ve been up to: 

Not a lot! I’ve had some time off over the Christmas period – for the first time in years. Usually I would be deep into edits at this time of year, but this year my agent used the Christmas period to read my manuscript, leaving me with a few weeks to myself. I’ve read a few books – The Year of the Farmer, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, The Helpline – had quite a few long lunches and watched waaaay too much TV – Downtown Abbey, The Good Place, Derry Girls, just to name a few! It was lovely, although I have to say by the third week I was itching to get back to work on my current book, which leads me nicely into this month’s topic of discussion:

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Lisa Ireland

This is not an easy question to answer! Ideas can (and do) come from anywhere. Newspaper articles, Facebook posts, snippets of overheard conversations. I never know where my next idea will come from!
My current book (which still doesn’t have a title!) came from two different places. I was writing a different story called Pieces of Me, which was about a mother’s grief. I’d written about forty thousand words but the story didn’t feel right to me. I was struggling to make it work. After talking it over with my agent I decided to shelve that idea and work on something else. The trouble was I didn’t know what it was I wanted to write.
In the back of my mind I had an idea about older couple on the run. Years and years ago I’d read a newspaper article about an elderly couple that kept giving the police the slip. I’d tried to use the idea to write a short story for a course I was doing, but found the concept was too big for the word limit. I was interested in the idea but I didn’t feel like I had a strong enough concept for a whole novel at that point.
It wasn’t until my home was damaged by storm water that the idea really came together. I had to clear out my wardrobe for the damage to be repaired and in the process I found a box filled with letters from the 1960s. My parents had written these letters to each other during the first years of their relationship when they lived hundreds of kilometers apart.
After some internal debate I decided to read them. My parents have been dead for over a decade and Mum often shared old letters with me when she was alive, so I figured they probably wouldn’t mind.
The letters gave an insight into relationships at that time in history, one that I could never have gained from researching the time online or in books.
An idea sprung to mind. I would combine the present day story of the older couple with the historical story of their relationship. I sent the idea to my agent and she loved it.
To be clear this book is not based on my parents’ relationship in any way. The letters gave me the historical context and helped me to create an authentic setting for the novel, that’s all. (If you read the book, you’ll see why I felt the need to include this caveat!)
At the moment, I’m contemplating what to write next. I really have no ideas right now, but I trust that in time the universe will present me with something. Fingers crossed!

Rachael Johns

Lisa Ireland

What I’ve been up to 

I think the question is more what have I NOT been up to! I finished my next book (very rough draft) just before school holidays started and spent the next two weeks doing house and kids stuff as well as reading as much as I could (never enough). I was planning on starting my next rural romance on Boxing Day but instead I got some revisions on my book from my publisher and spent the next three weeks doing them (along with lots of games of Uno and lots of swimming and reading by the pool). Last week I went to Busselton with my family, finished my revisions, sent them to my publisher, hung out with friends, read by the beach, cycled a LOT, visited caves, ate (and drank) too much, did an event with the gorgeous author Lily Malone, and now I’m home again, enjoying the last week of holidays before kids go back to school and I start writing that rural romance! Oh and I’ve also started Couch to 5k (again) and am making a concerted effort to exercise EVERY day in 2019!! I know, EVERYDAY!! So far so good, but it’s not quite a month yet…
Fave read so far of the year: THE LOST MAN by Jane Harper

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

Rachael Johns

Whenever readers or journalists ask this idea, I usually reply, ‘I wish I knew’, but that’s simply because there is not one standard answer per book. I’ve written books inspired by real events (Outback Blaze) or places (Man Drought), by weeds (Patterson’s Curse) and even a furniture catalogue (The Kissing Season) to name but a few. More often than not however, each book comes from a number of little ideas or seeds and I piece them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
That is definitely the case with my 2019 book (One Last Wish), which I’ve just submitted (again, after some revisions) to my publisher (more on that in a later newsletter).
The very first seed for ONE LAST WISH came quite a few years ago when I went on a cruise with Fiona Palmer. I actually suggested this as a research trip to her because it was a comedy cruise and I’ve always loved Stand-Up comedy. This one included a workshop and I thought that could be fun and perhaps give me insight into comedians so I might one day write a character who is one. On the ship, however, I decided an actual cruise would be a fab setting for a book, but I didn’t know how I wanted to utilise it, so I let that simmer in my mind waiting for something else to go with it.
Then two (I think) years ago I was listening to Lauren Groff at Perth Writers Festival, talking about feminism and how it almost meant she didn’t marry her husband. She told us a story about how he was the man of her dreams but she didn’t believe in marriage, so when he asked her to marry him her instinct was to say no because it went against everything she believed in. But, she said, as he was down on one knee, she looked into his eyes and knew if she said no, she would lose him and she couldn’t bear that. She’s obviously very happily married now but I started to think about a character who was in the same position as Lauren but DID say no. Would she always believe she made the right choice or would she one day regret it?
This character became Alice Abbott (an eighty year old feminist and scientist). I wanted to write a story of three generations of women and so I thought about who Alice’s daughter and granddaughter might be.
Funnily enough, at the same Perth Writers Festival I also heard a fabulous woman, Helen Ellis talking about her book American Housewife, which sparked my idea for Alice’s daughter – a woman who rebelled against her mother’s feminist values, married young and became a self-confessed happy housewife.
What kind of woman would her daughter be – having been raised with such opposing women in her life?
The answer is Geraldine Johnson, the protagonist of ONE LAST WISH and I can’t wait to introduce you to her later in the year!
Oh, and to see how the cruise fits in… well, you’ll have to wait until you read the book.
Copyright © 2019 Sally Hepworth, All rights reserved.