Milly Johnson is one of my favourite Chick-Lit authors of all time. I absolutely love her, not just her books but her incredible personality. Milly really cares about her readers so when I sat down to talk to Milly, I just couldn’t wait to talk about her two new books…
Q. Where did the inspiration for your two new books come from?
A. The inspiration for Here Come The Boys came from me failing to get back on a cruise ship when I was on holiday in 2012. Myself and my two sons had a 3 day frantic and exhausting trip across Europe to catch up with it when it docked again at a small Croatian island. We had no passports with us and no change of clothes – it was a nightmare. Obviously nothing is wasted when you are a writer, so I wound a fictional story around the facts of what happened to us. It wasn’t something I’d want to repeat again – but boy was it an adventure!
Teashop On The Corner came from my two big loves of teashops and stationery, which I combined for the backdrop of the story. Molly and Harvey in the book were named after my partner’s mum and dad because his dad wanted to see a romantic hero called Harvey. Sadly Molly, who was a great reader and was so looking forward to this book, died in March – just two days before I scooped the Romantic Comedy of the year award. The other characters just drifted into my brain. I wanted to write about a very motley crew and I think I pulled that off – a young rough lad, a retired Sikh doctor, an Irish builder with a potato farm of chips on his shoulder etc!
Q. How have Book Bloggers changed your career?
A. Book bloggers have been a great asset (bar one who was on a power trip and seemed to hate me more than she hated my book!). I wouldn’t say they have changed my career, but they’ve certainly pushed a lot more readers my way (thank you) and it’s always extra nice to have your books appreciated by people who are passionate about reading your genre. I’ve met up with a few of them and it’s been lovely to put names to faces. I’m always happy when they enjoy a new book of mine – it’s a big relief to have their stamp of approval – especially the ones whose opinions you particularly value.
Q. How do you deal with negativity in regards to your books?
A. How do I deal with negativity? I hate it, but alas it is par for the course. Stick your head above the parapet and someone will take aim! It’s as if someone doesn’t like your child when they say they don’t like your book – it hurts. All authors feel that a bad review weighs so much more than a good review – it’s in our nature to feel aggrieved when someone slates our creations because we write to please. I used to reply to critics because it was too tempting not to – especially if they ‘hadn’t got’ part of the plot and I wanted to enlighten them or if someone had said something which I thought was particularly damaging – I was once accused of ‘Sexualising violence’ and I felt I couldn’t stand by and take that, especially as it was rot. But I don’t anymore. Some trolls just want to goad you – and it’s not worth getting into an argument. I’m always astounded that some people don’t think authors read their own reviews and see the comments they write. If I hadn’t read my reviews of Here Come The Boys, I wouldn’t have realised that people wanted more of one of the characters, which I intend to address. We authors know that we can’t please everyone, everytime so all we ask for is reviewers to be fair and not encourage the whole world to boycott you because they haven’t enjoyed your latest. One man’s rubbish skip is another man’s treasure box, after all.
Q. Who is your favourite author of all time?
A. Oh that is a real toss up. My favourite single book is Jane Eyre but I didn’t like Charlotte’s other books so I’d have to say it was a toss up between Jane Austen and Helen Fielding – who is probably Jane reincarnate anyway. I recently met her (Helen not Jane) and she was fabulous to talk to – so chatty, down-to-earth and friendly. I shrieked like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert when I was introduced to her (cringe).
Q. If you could collaboarte with any other author, who would it be and why?
A. Would you believe – Mo Hayder, who writes the dark and creepy books I’m champing at the bit to have a go at. I’d love to see how her mind ticks.