Townsville author Rachel Armstrong wrote her first book at 13 years old.
It was 2005 and Rachel was inspired after reading Ella Enchanted.
Rachel recalls saying to herself “I’m gonna write a book! And so, I did!”
She has been writing books ever since.
Fast forward to May 2022 and Rachel is the latest local author to release a self-published novel. Her newest book, Home Among the Palm Trees, is the first in a series of six stories set in Shadow Creek.
Creating fictional worlds from real-life cues
Rachel’s first inklings of the Shadow Creek series came from her beloved border collie Dillon and their afternoons spent at a local dog park.
It was here that the stories of Ana and her border collie Louis, and Liam and his border collie Steph, began to take shape in Rachel’s mind.
Rachel had originally set the story in Townsville and added elements of her own life to her characters.
“Liam was an exercise physiologist because it was what I was studying at the time,” she said.
As Rachel’s drafts wore on, she decided to move her story to a more rural setting and through extensive research created the perfect small town, Elizadale.
Rachel is proud that her fictional world she has created.
“Some readers have confessed to Googling the region where Elizadale sits between Mareeba and Lakeland, Queensland, in the hope that such a place exists,” she said.
Imbuing values through fiction
Home Among the Palm Trees is, what Rachel calls, a “vegan rural romance”.
Rachel brings her passion for health and plant-based diets into her story through Ana. Elizadale is surrounded by banana, coffee, avocado, lychee, and guava plantations.
“In my books, they don’t farm animals,” Rachel said. “If they farm anything, it is going to be plants – fruits and vegetables.”
Home Among the Palm Trees also puts the spotlight on the issue of domestic violence and its impacts.
“When you pick a topic like that you have got to put a lot of thought into how handle it,” said Rachel.
“You need to think about the readers who have experienced this.”
Preparing for the next instalment
Rachel’s second book in the Shadow Creek series is due for release in February 2023 and she is currently editing book three.
She will also attend a Romance Writers of Australia event in Perth this August.
Home Among the Palm Trees is available in eBook and paperback format.