In an occasional series, we’ll be catching up with various British authors and finding out about their books and their reading lives. First up, Milly Johnson, whose book My One True North is currently on offer in US ebook stores — a bargain at just $1.99!

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your latest book.

My name is Milly Johnson and I’m a British novelist who has so far written 18 books.  I’m from the north of England and write mainly about the area where I come from – Yorkshire. I didn’t get my first writing deal until I was 40 even though I’d been trying for many years to get published. I was told my writing was ‘of a publishable’ quality, but my stories weren’t. Then I happened to get pregnant at the same time as two of my friends when we were in our late thirties and I started to write a book based on my own pregnancy diaries, about three friends all being pregnant together. And that book gave me my first publishing deal.  You can read more of my story on my website.

My book ‘My One True North’ is the story of two young people who have both lost their partners in similar circumstances and meet at a bereavement counselling group. Friendship turns to more but then what has pushed them together serves to pull them apart. But some people are just meant to be together and will find their way back to each other, just like a compass point always finds north. If you are going to write about a serious subject like bereavement, you have to whip it up with a lot of lightness and it’s a hopeful and uplifting read with a lot of laughter. It is available in the US as an ebook for $1.99 until 4th October. If anyone ever asks me which of my books they should read first, I always say ‘the cheapest’ and this is a real bargain if you want to try me out. 

What’s the last book you fell in love with and haven’t stopped thinking about and recommending?

Easy –  ‘The Ice Cream Girls’ by Dorothy Koomson who is a black British writer and my friend. I thought it was fabulous when I read it. I have bought this book so many times to give away as presents as I think it’s fantastic. It’s about two girls who are joined together by the events of one terrible summer. I couldn’t put it down. Dorothy writes suspense so well and she has just released the sequel to this called ‘All My Lies Are True’ which means I’ll be buying this one for a lot of people who I’ve nudged towards Dorothy’s fabulous novels.

What’s the last book you bought for someone else (and why) (and where, if it’s not Amazon)?

I bought my friend Debbie Johnson’s latest book, ‘Maybe One Day’. Debbie is no blood relation, but I wish she were. She writes so beautifully and takes you through a full spectrum of emotions when reading her novels. It’s the story of a woman who, after her mother’s death, finds out that vital information has been hidden from her for years that would have changed her life. So she and her best friend go on a journey to put things right. If you want an author who really pulls you into the pages of a book and holds you there until the end, do try a Debbie Johnson book.

What’s the last book someone gave you? 

My partner bought me a beautiful old copy of ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen. He’s an antiques dealer and is always finding wonderful book-related gifts. This story is one of my two favourite classics (I would have difficulty choosing between this and Jane Eyre) and I never tire of it. It’s about a woman (Anne) who was ‘persuaded’ to give up her sailor suitor many years before as it would been too lowly a match for her.  She never married because he was her one true love. But their paths cross again when he comes back into her life as a dashing ship’s captain – but he hasn’t forgiven her and it looks as if he is on course to marry another. It’s a perfect love story with a fabulously happy ending.  

What’s on your bedside table to read next?

A.A. Dhand’s ‘One Way Out‘.  He is a British-Asian crime writer and I came across his work for the first time last year when we were both involved in ‘Quick Reads’ – a project dedicated to helping adults improve their literacy. He writes about an area I used to live near in West Yorkshire and I not only find his novels are brilliant in their story-telling, but also the back story of interracial tensions is fascinating. Harry Virdee, his detective in his stories, is a Sikh married to a Muslim which has caused a lot of trouble in their families. I think he’s an amazing writer.

Don’t forget to head to your favourite ebook store by 4th October to pick up Milly Johnson’s book, One True North, for just $1.99!

If you’re an author who’d like to tell us about your Five Books, drop me a line at britlitpodcast@gmail.com with the subject line FIVE BOOKS. Priority will be given to traditionally published authors and those from a BAME background.