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Guest blogger: Rachael Johns

5 March 2017

rachael-johnsWhen I was in high school my friends and I used to devour Dolly magazine—much to the disgust of our parents. And I remember one of our favourite columns was ‘Dear Dolly’ (I hope my memory is correct on that title), where readers could write in with their boy, puberty, parents and other dilemmas. Let’s face it, in our teens, our problems mostly revolved around boys or the boys we wished would notice us. Anyway, the idea of writing to someone all-knowing who would give us some advice about how to win that guy we lusted after was very appealing. And month after month we’d read the replies to letters that we could all relate to.

dollyWhen I was brainstorming my latest book—Pregnant by Mr Wrong—I already had the characters (I set them up in the first book) and their ‘issue’, but I didn’t know how the plot would unfold. I sat on the exercise bike at the gym trying to come up with a way my hero would find out the heroine was pregnant and how he would react. And then suddenly those old Dolly letters popped into my head.

What if the heroine wrote to an agony aunt about her dilemma ? She was pregnant with a guy she had a one-night stand with, a guy she thought unreliable and totally unsuited to any form of commitment, never mind parenthood.

And what if that agony aunt just happened to be the guy who was the father of her unborn child?

I loved this twist on the old secret baby trope—in this book it’s the hero who ‘secretly’ knows about the baby—but I must admit it took a little to convince my agent and editor that I could make an agony aunt hero work. I’d like to think Quinn McKinnel is the ideal hero—he comes across as a playboy due to being wounded by an incident in his teens, but deep down he’s a really good, kind, solid guy and all it takes is him finding Miss Right to bring out his true colours.

So now I want to know … have you ever written to an agony aunt? If so, was their advice useful? From the comments, I’ll pick one reader to win a copy of Pregnant by Mr Wrong. (The giveaway is now closed. Rachael has selected Jet as the winner.)

Please note, Pregnant by Mr Wrong is available in Australia in a print duo with the first book and is titled, The McKinnels of Jewell Rock.

Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. She rarely sleeps and never irons. A lover of romance and women’s fiction, Rachael loves nothing more than sitting in bed with her laptop and electric blanket and imagining her own stories.

Rachael has finaled in a number of competitions, including the Australian Romance Readers Awards. Jilted (her first rural romance) won Favourite Australian Contemporary Romance in 2012 and she was voted in the Top Ten of Booktopia’s Favourite Australian Author poll in 2013. The Patterson Girls won the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY Award and also the 2015 Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction.

Rachael lives in the Perth Hills with her hyperactive husband, three mostly gorgeous heroes-in-training, two fat cats, a cantankerous bird and a very badly behaved dog.

Rachael loves to hear from readers. You can find here here: Website | Facebook | Twitter

mr-wrongPregnant by Mr Wrong

Second book in The McKinnels of Jewell Rock series – Bailey Sawyer and Quinn McKinnel’s story!

Dear Aunt Bossy,

It’s no secret that my world turned upside down when I learned an impulsive night of passion left me pregnant. And the dad? He’s the devil-may-care brother of my former fiancé. He’s a heartbreaker of a man who swept me off my feet—again—before he learned I was in the family way. But our romantic reunion might not have been as unplanned as I thought.

Aunt Bossy, I don’t want a man who’s with me just because he feels it’s his duty. I want him to be as smitten with me as he is with the idea of becoming a father. As head over heels with me as I am with him…

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18 Comments
  1. 6 March 2017 5:48 pm

    What a fantastic idea for a story! I loved reading Dolly, Girlfriend & Cosmo. Especially the sealed sections!
    Can’t wait to read this! Will definitely be putting it on the top of my TBR pile!

    • 6 March 2017 5:50 pm

      I never did write into any of the magazines but I was always hoping that the question I wanted answered would be asked!

  2. leo1962 permalink
    5 March 2017 6:10 pm

    Ah yes, I remember Dolly.

    What a great premise for a story! Can’t wait to read it.

    I reckon there probably are agony uncles masquerading as agony aunts given the male domination of newspapers and most magazines but I love the idea and can’t wait to see how everyone reacts.

  3. Melissa Woods permalink
    5 March 2017 4:38 pm

    I do remember reading Dolly magazine and the letters asking for answers. I never had the confidence to write in though. My mum and dad never approved of my reading Dolly, but realised I’d only read at friends anyway. I do wish I kept the ones I did get.

    • 5 March 2017 10:25 pm

      My mum didn’t approve either, but lucky my best friend’s mum let her buy it 🙂 x

  4. Wendy Geihlich permalink
    5 March 2017 3:38 pm

    I was a subscriber to Dolly, I got it for my birthday every year and kept every copy until I moved out of home and mum made me get rid of them!! 😃
    I didn’t write to the agony aunts but I did read Dear Dolly every month in the hope the questions I WANTED to ask were answered!!
    I did however collect a huge number of pen pals from the other teen mag of choice from the time – Smash Hits!!

    • 5 March 2017 10:26 pm

      Ooh Smash Hits – I’d almost forgotten about Smash Hits. Are you still in contact with any of those pen pals? x

      • Wendy permalink
        5 March 2017 10:54 pm

        No unfortunately not, but I’ve passed on the love of letter writing to my 7 year old son who loves sending letters and we drawings to his grandparents in the country!!

  5. Lynette williams permalink
    5 March 2017 2:43 pm

    My girls use to read dolly but not me and no never written to an aunt agony I have this book on my Kindle and now that melbourne is over I will have more time for reading

    • 5 March 2017 10:26 pm

      Wasn’t Melbourne awesome?! Hope you enjoy your reading time! x

  6. Cassie permalink
    5 March 2017 2:17 pm

    Loved Dolly as a teen growing up, never submitted anything though.
    I need to add this book to my ‘to do’ booking reading list

    • 5 March 2017 10:27 pm

      I wonder who DID submit as most of the comments here say they read but didn’t submit? lol I bet the editors and writers made those letters up! x

  7. 5 March 2017 12:34 pm

    I loved this book Rachael …. I am a bit old to have read Dolly but I am sure there were similar magazines around when I was young but can’t remember them lol…. I am reading Sarah Morgan’s latest book, New York, Actually, and she has an agony aunt in hers who wants to remain anonymous

    • 5 March 2017 12:45 pm

      Oh seriously… I might have to hunt that book down. Is her agony aunt a male or female? x

      • 5 March 2017 1:32 pm

        Female, there are only a couple of people who know who Aggie is ….

  8. 5 March 2017 12:29 pm

    Hi Rachael

    I am really looking forward to this book and no I have not ever written to an agony aunt but I did read them a lot LOL Dolly started in the 70’s and I never missed one actually when my Mum sold her house back in 2000 and we were packing up I found all of my Dolly magazines they bought back memories but sadly I recycled them all 🙂

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 5 March 2017 12:47 pm

      Oh yay – another Dolly fan!!! Hope you enjoy Quinn and Bailey! x

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