Monday, July 29, 2019

Milly Johnson Interview - The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew

Photo Credit: Chris Sedgewick

Milly Johnson is The Sunday Times bestselling author of numerous novels about the universal issues of friendship, family, love, betrayal, good food, and the little bit of that magic in life that sometimes visits the unsuspecting. Milly is a columnist for her local newspaper and is also an experienced broadcaster on radio and TV. She can be booked via the Women Speakers Agency for motivational speaking events. Milly is patron of several charities, including Yorkshire Cat Rescue and The Well at the Core. Her publishers call her The Queen of Feel-Good Fiction, and together they are aiming to spread as much joy as possible with every book published. Find out more at or follow her on Twitter @MillyJohnson.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
I became pregnant at the same time of my two best friends – we all made our pregnancy journeys together. I had been struggling for something to write about that would make a good novel and when we had all given birth and were sitting in my lounge with our newborns, it was like a lightbulb going off in my head. ‘Why aren’t you writing about this,’ said the idea. ‘Pregnancy, women’s friendship, the workplace – life.’ So I started to write a story about three women on the cusp of 40 who become friends and the literary agent I had been chasing for 15 years snapped me up.

Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just been doing a Mrs Mayhew tour around the UK going to towns and cities that I haven’t been to before and meeting all my readers. But then inbetween dates I’m writing book 17 which I am LOVING! Then as soon as the tour is over – I’m off on a cruise so at some point I’ll have to start shopping for holiday clothes as well. And I also have to find some time to eat and sleep. I’m very busy – probably the busiest July in history. The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew has just had a massive reprint in the first week of sales and so it’s selling well – which fills me with happiness. And I’m busy choosing paint colours as my whole house needs brightening up!

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I was incredibly influenced by Charlotte Bronte when I was younger as I loved Jane Eyre so much that I sold my house and moved to Haworth where she lived. I think there is a little bit of Jane and Rochester in every book I’ve ever written. I was also influenced by Mills and Boon books because I was assured that the hero and heroine were going to get together so I could just enjoy the story and let it happen. I don’t mind that people guess my stories result in a happy ending. I wouldn’t want my readers disappointed that the good people don’t triumph in the end. I was also a great fan of Agatha Christie books. I can read them over and over again. Even though I remember ‘whodunnit’, I can still enjoy watching the plot unfold. I like complicated plots, things to guess at along the way and I think a little bit of Agatha has brushed off onto me for that reason. I am also a great fan of Stephen King and it was his books that gave me the idea to cross characters and places from one book to another. That way it gives a real sense of made up places being real.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I always thought that the moment I got my book deal would be the most exciting but I was wrong. It’s knowing that you have a massive readership waiting for your next novel. For the Perfectly Imperfect Woman’s release, we had no bookshop in town as it closed and so we asked if the local supermarket would host the launch. I rolled up wondering if anyone would turn up, I was terrified. I walked into a crowd that you wouldn’t believe. People waited in queues for 2 hours to get their books signed – we sold over 400 in one night. It was amazing – I felt like a rock star.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I’d hope they would think that if they aren’t happy with their lives, they could change them. That life is here and now and for living and they should make their dreams come true – however big or small they are. I want to leave people with hope and filled with the feeling that they can do so much more than they think they can. I am the poster girl for throwing everything I had at my dream (of being an author) and making it come true.

In your new book; THE MAGNIFICENT MRS. MAYHEW, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it
It’s the story of Sophie Mayhew a beautiful woman married to a very charismatic MP, who is thought to be little more than eye candy, of no substance, a mere arm decoration for her husband. But when news of her husband’s mistress hits the newspapers and Sophie is expected to stand by her man and put up with being humiliated, something inside her snaps. She has to escape to a place that no one would ever think she would return to and there she experiences life outside the spotlight. It changes her – but she can’t stay there forever because she has a life back in London and a husband who needs her.

What part of Sophie did you enjoy writing the most?
I enjoyed her rebelling, when she realizes that her conscience will not let her say the words that she is supposed to in order to protect her husband because they are lies. I LOVED writing that part.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d like to introduce Deb from Spring Affair to Davy in the Mother of All Christmases. I think they’d be a match made in heaven. They’re both in need of a good person to love.

What book would you recommend for others to read?
Persuasion by Jane Austen. I think it’s the most romantic story ever.

If you could be born into history as any famous person who would it be and why?
I think it would have to be Cleopatra. I quite fancy being a beautiful and powerful queen. And she had great hair and make up.

What are you most passionate about today?
Turning me into the best version of myself that I can be. I want to be fit and healthy and stick around on this planet for as long as I can.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I worked in Wales as a waitress and bartender in my early 20s. It was a beautiful old mansion converted into a hotel. There was a gold mine behind the building and the most beautiful scenery ever around us. I had such fun there – and picked up so much material for characters and stories.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
I think about myself in a beautiful old house and how I’d decorate it. It’s a great sleep aid.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Go to the Arctic, stare in the sky and stay there until the Northern Lights make an appearance. They’re amazing.

Milly Johnson, the Queen of Feel-Good Fiction and The Sunday Times bestselling author, is back with a "glorious, heartfelt novel" (Rowan Coleman, New York Times bestselling author) about a woman trying to find her own place in the world, who through love, loss, and the kindness of strangers, discovers everything she needs in a village by the sea.

Behind every successful man is a woman.
Behind the fall of every successful man is usually another woman.

Sophie Mayhew seems to have the perfect life. The glamourous wife of a rising political star who is one step away from the highest position in the government, she matches her husband in looks, pedigree, and money. But he has made some stupid mistakes on his way to the top, and some of those mistakes are just now threatening to emerge. Still, this can all be swept under the rug so long as Sophie the Trophy plays her part in front of the cameras. But the words that tumble out of Sophie’s mouth one morning on the doorstep of their country house are not the words the spin doctors drilled into her head.

Bursting out of the restrictive mold that has been tightening around her since birth, Sophie flees to a small village on the coast, a safe haven from her childhood days, where she intends to be alone. But once there, she finds a community that warms her soul and makes her feel as if she is breathing properly for the first time in her life. Sophie knows she won’t be left in peace for long, though, so she must decide: where does her real future lie?

You can purchase The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MILLY JOHNSON for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of The Magnificent Mrs. Mayhew by Milly Johnson.