Milly Johnson is a Yorkshire born and bred romantic comedy novelist, scriptwriter, poet, newspaper columnist, professional joke writer and after dinner speaker, the latter is where Yorkshire Businesswoman editor Gill Laidler first came across Milly.
“Milly was speaking at the Yorkshire Society Awards in March, just before lockdown started,” said Gill “and I thought she was one of the best after dinner speakers I had heard, interesting, professional and funny. I decided I wanted to meet her. Luckily, I managed to track her down.”
Born and brought up in Yorkshire, where all her books have a strong connection, Milly has lived in Barnsley much of her life apart from her years at university in Exeter and 13 years living in Haworth where she was hoping some Bronte magic might rub off on her!
“I’ve always loved reading books, since I was a small child and wanted to make people feel the way I did when I read a good book,” she said. “I had plenty of ideas for books over the years and often wrote three chapters and sent with a covering letter to agents. These were different to the books I write now which are about life experiences, but it was good practice at the time. I really didn’t think ordinary people like me, northern and working class could get this sort of career.
“For many years I tried the ‘proper job route’ but was never content. I began training as an accountant in a building society, a job I hated and tried a succession of other jobs, but nothing was right for me,” she continued. “I was good at writing both comedy and poetry and sent a number of these to greeting card producers and managed to land a job with Purple Ronnie writing poems. This led to me setting up a small business called Black Sheep when I became a professional joke writer.
“It was however when I hit the age milestone of 40 I decided to put everything into making my dream a reality. I got my break by falling pregnant at the same time as two of my friends and after we gave birth I had the idea of writing a book based on our journeys. I sent it off to an agent that I had been chasing for more than 15 years and never looked back since!
Since then, Milly has successfully gone on to write eighteen full novels as well as a paperback novella, (book of short stories) a book of poetry and four ebook novella length specials, becoming a household name.
Sadly, at the time of our interview, it was the beginning of lockdown and lots of events have been cancelled. “Many events around my new book launch were cancelled so I have spent some time to regroup and rethink,” she added. “I am doing lots of Facebook Live events, with readings, book chats and virtual celebrations and my appetite for stories and connections will be stronger than ever. These take place weekly between 7.30 and 8.30pm. I love entertaining my readers so I will be working on doing just that.
“I also have a joke book that I need to finish, along with a poetry collection, then I will be starting on novel number nineteen!”
Milly lives near the centre of Barnsley, not far from her parents, with her partner of eight years, two grown up sons and a menagerie of animals. A disappointed Milly tells us she won’t be able to go on her cruise this year, her favourite way to holiday, “Ah those beautful Italian ports!”