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Beat the bestsellers

The techniques and tricks of milly johnson

Tony Rossiter shows how she makes her readers both smile and hold back tears at the same time

If you like easy-to-read, feel-good romantic comedy, Milly Johnson fits the bill. She’s written eleven novels, one or two a year since 2007, and several have made the Sunday Times top ten bestseller chart. She won the 2014 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Comedy Award and the 2015 Yorkshire Society’s Award for Arts and Culture. ‘Don’t faff about if you want to be a serious writer,’ she says. ‘You have to work like a bull at it otherwise it’ll always be an unpaid hobby!’

How she began

She has written stories since she was a small child and remembers stapling pages together to bind them into a book. An avid reader from a very young age, she enjoyed Enid Blyton, the Brontës, Jane Austen and Catherine Cookson. After school in Barnsley, she studied drama and education at Exeter University. Then, writing in her spare time (mainly poems and short stories), she took many different jobs to pay her bills: primary school teacher, trainee accountant, waitress, barmaid, sales assistant, telesales, office manager, writing copy for greetings cards.

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BUMPER ISSUE: Plan your writing year with our definitive guide to festivals, workshops, courses and events for writers in 2016 101 ways to inspire new ideas How to: Market your ebook Write the perfect submission letter Sell your article ideas 'Leave it out!": Create cliché-free crime dialogue Get active! Make the most of your writing retreat AND Get Booked at your local library Star interview with crime writer Louise Welsh, on tackling dark topics with a light touch

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