Friday 12 February 2016

My Life in Books ~ talking to author Milly Johnson

My Life in Books is an occasional feature on Random Things Through My Letterbox.
I've invited authors to share with us a list of the books that are special to them, and have made a lasting impression on their life.

Milly Johnson

My fourth guest on the My Life In Books feature is Milly Johnson. I'm really pleased to welcome Milly here today, I've been a fan of her writing for a long time now.

Milly is the author of fifteen novels, her first The Yorkshire Pudding Club was published in 2007, and her most recent, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Cafe came out last year. Her sixteenth novel will be published in June this year. 

So many books have had an influence on me, but these immediately came to mind:

The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton    the first time I ever completely lost myself in a book was when I read this. My Nannan bought me an Amelia Jane book by Enid Blyton and I was hooked ...... but the Enchanted Wood took me to a wonderful place in my head. My books always have a little magic element somewhere, because I think this wood infected with the concept of magic and I've never healed. And never want to.  I loved how the wood was painted and I can still picture today how I thought it looked then. When I write today, I always disappear into a world of my own creating. Setting is very important to me.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte   My favourite book of all time. I read it when all my sexual hormones were budding and the first man they reached out to was Rochester. This book has everything to me - a small, imperfect, feisty heroine who I totally identified with. A powerhouse of a hero who made my nerve endings sing. Beautiful love rival who doesn't get the man, but you think she might, conflict, a little bit of magic and that glorious gorgeous Thornfield. I think all of my books have a little bit of Jane Eyre in them. I never tire of it. I moved to live in Haworth on the strength of reading this book.  

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding  Here was a book that I read whilst shouting 'yes, yes that's me, that's what I do' at every page. I wanted to write a book like that, that women could identify with. It was fresh and funny and I cried and laughed at it and I wished I'd written it. I met Helen Fielding a couple of years ago and it was a massive highlight of my year/decade/life. I was a blubbering superman. When anyone writes and tells me that they read my books and say 'yes, that's me, that's what I do', I think I owe it to Bridget - and Helen - for influencing me. 

 Persuasion by Jane Austen   I hated Jane Austen at school. I thought she was old and boring and rubbish until a blessed teacher of mine ripped the scales from my eyes and showed me how much she was (direct quote) 'taking the piss'. I 'got' her irony and her tongue in cheek humour then. And this book is full of people you just want to slap. But also there is the most gorgeous love story about a woman who missed her chance for happiness, regretted it, feels that was her one and only crack of the whip .... but gets her day in the sun. My books are full of these Renaissance moments - they give readers hope that life can change. Even set-in-a-rut ones. I feel Anne Elliott blossoming in the pages and I'm rooting for her all the damn way. Captain Wentworth is a nip behind Rochester in the romantic hero category, but it really is only a nip!

The Treatment by Mo Hayder  I have a very dark side. That's why my books often have dark themes. They'd be a lot darker too if my Editor didn't keep reining me in. I want to split myself in half and write a crime novel. This book was the perfect dark story to me. Masterful but never gratuitous, with a hero I cared about. I might write what is categorised as 'Romantic Comedy' but I write about life and all its horrors. I like books with light and shade. Life is made up of tears and laughter after all. The Treatment was a masterclass in writing terror. 

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. As well as being an author she is also a copy-writer for the greetings card industry, a joke-writer, a columnist, after-dinner speaker, poet, BBC newspaper reviewer and a sometimes BBC radio presenter.

She writes about love, life, friendships and that little bit of magic that sometimes crops up in real life. She likes owls and meringues and hates marizpan. She is very short.

You can find out lots of interesting information about Milly and her life at her website 
She has a book page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @millyjohnson



  1. The Enchanted Wood! I love that it was my favourite Enid Blyton when I was a child. I remember reading Bridget Jones's Diary when it first came out in about 1995 when there was all the hoo-ha about it; I was 34 and thought it was an insult to women, especially as it was being marketed as being so true to life, and 'what it's really like, isn't it, girls?'. Since then, I have softened and see that it's just a bit of fun :)

  2. Thanks for visiting Terry.