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Guest blogger: Rachael Johns

14 August 2016

Rachael JohnsWhere in the world is that?

About a month ago, just prior to the Romance Writers of America conference, I visited Bend (in Oregon, USA) with my partner in crime, author Emily Madden. When we mentioned where we were going to people, almost everyone said the same two things: ‘Where?’ and, when we answered this question, ‘Why are you going there?’

In case you’re wondering as well, Bend, is a gorgeous little mountain town in Central Oregon, USA.

We decided to spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful region because it is the setting for my new series with Harlequin Special Edition, The Mckinnels of Jewell Rock. When I was approached to submit a proposal for Special Edition, I was told it would be better if I set the first few books in the USA. I had an idea for a series revolving around a large family who own a whiskey distillery but, having not spent much time in America, I had no idea where to set it.

I asked my US friends Megan Crane and Maisey Yates for suggestions and they immediately suggested the town of Bend, which is home to a number of boutique breweries, wineries and distilleries, making it perfect for my idea. In all my books, I make up fictional towns that are usually based on real places I have visited, but I wrote the first two McKinnel books without stepping foot in Oregon.

Sign Town

I created the town of Jewell Rock, Oregon, and made it a little smaller than Bend, which I described as being its closest town. I walked the streets of Bend on Google Earth, I did my research about the town and its inhabitants on the internet, and what I found had me itching to visit the place in person. When I asked Emily if she was up for a (fairly major) detour on route to RWA in San Diego, she jumped at the chance.

ScootersWe only had one full day in Bend but that was long enough for both of us to fall in love with the region. There is just something magical about this town.

We stayed in a place called the Old Mill District, which was seeping with history about Bend’s early logging days. We did a tour around the town on Segway (and didn’t kill ourselves), which touched on all that Bend would have to offer if we were able to stay longer. Bend, situated on the Deschutes River, is known for its many festivals, its great coffee (not that I drink the stuff) and its love for dogs. In fact, apparently Bend has one of the highest per capita dog populations anywhere in the world with 49 per cent of Central Oregon residents owning a dog.

DogsAlthough I was clueless to this fact until we visited, it seemed fitting considering my first book in the McKinnels of Jewell Rock is called A Dog and a Diamond (It’s Not You, It’s Her in Australia/NZ). I’m so glad I set The McKinnels of Jewell Rock in Central Oregon and I’m itching to write more books in which I can add some of the detail we experienced while we were there.

I’m curious … where is somewhere you’ve read about in a book and would now like to visit. One lucky commenter will win a copy of A Dog and a Diamond (open internationally). The giveaway will close on 28 August. (Update: the giveaway is now closed. The winner was Lyn W.)

You can find Rachael here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodreadsInstagram

ADogandaDiamondA Dog and a Diamond

How to break up with someone else’s fiancé by Chelsea Porter, aka The Breakup Girl

Tell him it’s not him, it’s her. Try to ignore how gorgeous Callum McKinnel is. You are breaking up with him, after all. Fall just a little bit when he rescues your dog. Try to resist when he asks you to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner in Jewell Rock. Succumb anyway. Succumb to a lot more than that. Remind yourself that you are The Breakup Girl. You don’t do commitment.

Wonder what would happen if The Breakup Girl stopped following her own advice…

You can find out more about A Dog and a Diamond here, or buy it from: Amazon | Amazon AU | Booktopia

  1. Yvonne permalink
    16 August 2016 11:07 pm

    When I travel interstate I try to do side trips to small towns that are off the highway as I love to see what is down that lane or road. I love finding out the history, admiring lovely buildings and where possible enjoy local produce. I am always about the journey. So when I read about places that I have not been or have been enticed by an authors brilliant descriptions, I mentally add that place to my bucket list of places that deserve to be explored ie Bend is now there. Also for USA are New Orleans and Savannah and I would love anywhere in the “deep south”. Nora Roberts “The Perfect Hope” has me wishing to go to Innsboro and staying in that featured bed and breakfast Inn and to explore those nearby haunting battlefields. Trust me, I have looked up how to get there by public transport, in the event I ever get back to America. Reading Christine Feehan has developed a wish to see the Carpathian mountains and explore the small villages located there. So many places highlighted by authors, that I cannot mention them all, but I wish I could see them. Well I am in my mind. Rachael, your books bring our small rural towns and their communities to life and are always great to read and I will look forward to your upcoming overseas settings.

  2. Linda Christie permalink
    15 August 2016 7:41 pm

    Hi Rachael, I too have several places that I would love to visit or imagine I could! Independence Falls (Oregon, USA) is the town in the series of the same name by Sara Jane Stone reminds me of Bunyip Bay without the ocean (or Frankie’s cooking) the town is similar to my home town in Canada, Vultures Canyon in Beth Kery’s One Night of Passion Series, reminds me of Australia’s Byron Bay/Nimbin or a place near where I grew up called Cherryville (I was not allowed to go there – until I did!) Jumbuck Springs in Amy Andrews Outback Heat series is another. Would love to visit Charleston, SC & Sullivan’s Island to experience that southern charm that Dorothea Benton Frank writes about. And purely from a fantasy point of view – Virginia, USA from Claudia Connor’s just to perv on (all) the McKinney brothers! Just because I’m chained to the porch does not mean I can’t bark at the cars! If you know what I mean.

  3. lynette williams permalink
    15 August 2016 10:49 am

    the “village I would like to visit/live is “Coorah creek” a series by Janet Gover it is a bit like Epping was many years ago when I was growing up –congratulation on another release –Lyn W

  4. Kerry McKenzie permalink
    14 August 2016 8:51 pm

    I remember reading The a Bay, by Di Morrissey and it inspired me to go to Byron Bay for the first time and I fell in love with the place. I would love to visit Swallow Falls, the fictional town in Jennie Jones’s series. Though, I wish Bunyip Bay was real so I could try Frankie’s cakes 😉

    • 14 August 2016 11:26 pm

      Wouldn’t it be nice if we could visit our fave fictional towns!? xx

  5. 14 August 2016 6:15 pm

    Hi Rachael

    There are many towns I would like to visit Bend being one of them after reading your great new book, Townsville Qld after reading one of Barbara Hannay’s and Gretna Green in Scotland after reading many historical’s 🙂

    Have Fun

  6. Melissa Woods permalink
    14 August 2016 5:33 pm

    Definitely it would be Bunyip Bay, which sounds like a truly magical family friendly town. But then again, any of the towns mentioned in any rural outback romance fiction book gets me every time. I just want to go there.

    • 14 August 2016 11:27 pm

      Did you know Bunyip Bay is based on the real WA town of Dongala? 🙂 x

  7. 14 August 2016 3:25 pm

    Love small towns

  8. 14 August 2016 10:48 am

    Hi Rach. I’m so thrilled for you, all that travel and research and success. Congratulations. I’m delighted to share my book of travel inspiration – yet to be realised mind you. At the age of 10, just before WW2, Gerald Durrell and his crazy family went to live on the Greek Isle of Corfu. They spent five years there and had wonderful and curious relationships with the locals. Gerald, born to be a Naturalist, would spend his days avoiding the family, going off on nature and wildlife adventures, setting off in a little row boat to drop into villages along the shores and head up into the hills. He had the most wonderful encounters with local olive and grape growers and fishing families, all adoring his visits, plying him with all kinds of food and treats. So, My Family and Other Animals captured my heart and mind from about the same age Gerald was while in Greece and Corfu – aged 10. It fostered my love of books, animals, other cultures and places far far away…. Jay xxx

    • 14 August 2016 3:17 pm

      Aw sounds like a very special book. And thanks for your lovely congrats. xx

  9. Veronica permalink
    14 August 2016 10:40 am

    I read about the tiny town of Blinman in Fleur McDonald’s Indigo Storm and fell in love with it. Would love to visit there when they have their big cook out.

    • 14 August 2016 3:18 pm

      I’ll come with you 🙂 Sounds like a lot of fun! x

      • Veronica permalink
        14 August 2016 10:23 pm

        Oh yes, and Fleur too because she knows everyone there on a first name level 😉

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