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Travel to Yorkshire with Milly Johnson

  • Submitted: 3rd October 2023

Travel to Yorkshire with Milly Johnson

Soon to appear at the inaugural Edinburgh Women’s Fiction Festival, Milly Johnson takes us to lovely Yorkshire, the setting in her new book out in February. A bit of time to wait to read it BUT you can travel there now!

The Happiest Ever After Milly Johnson

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

milly johnson

milly johnson ©2022 Roth Read Photography

My home county is very important to me so it features very heavily in my books. Mostly it is around where I live in South Yorkshire, but for a few books I have ventured out to the east coast – as I have done in The Happiest Ever After. I like to create fictional places and intersperse them with real places which is why I have Whitby and Scarborough – which are genuine – and then places like the quaint seaside village of Briswith and Shoresend which is a much smaller coastal town than Whitby and attracts a set of people who don’t like crowds or noise; it has a very quiet grandeur.

Incidentally I’m writing a crime book which is also set in this town. I can see it all in my head and really wish I could go there.

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

Poor Polly isn’t very happy in Penistone but that’s down to the selfish people she lives with and not the town itself, which is lovely. I am very fond of the area in which I live which is much maligned. My home is very close to the centre of Barnsley but only a five minute drive away and you are deep in the countryside and five minutes after that on the rolling hills of the Pennines.

Barnsley – a view of past and present: 

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

Many people are surprised by how pretty it is around here – and the people are wonderful. We are a town that has made a success of regeneration, though people who haven’t been often presume there is still a mine and a muckstack every hundred yards.

Scarborough and the famous Clifton Hotel

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

I’ve always loved the seaside, I have happy memories of Scarborough when I was a young girl and days spent out in Bridlington and my parents met in Filey, and so most of it is in my mind already and wrapped up in affection. I love the smells of the seaside.

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

We recently went to Scarborough and the scents of frying doughnuts in the air vying with burgers and salty air always takes me back to my childhood and happy days out. Although if you make your places fictional, your research doesn’t have to be too perfect. In saying that, I’d like to think even my made up places feel very real to readers, they are certainly flavoured with the best of the real locations.

The Grand hotel Scarborough

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

I wanted to set my book by the sea because there is a sense of freedom about the coast. I’d love to live there – or at least much closer to it. Water is very attractive to me, maybe it’s because I’m a Piscean (if you believe in all that). A lake would do, but there is something special about the seaside. I worked in Leeds for many years and I do love the city dearly but I have mixed memories about it because I had the worst and the best jobs in it. So it felt fitting to set Polly’s workplace there.

Leeds – some very nice architecture in the city

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

At first she doesn’t mind the travelling into the city because her job makes her happy, but if you have a long commute and the job you are journeying to is awful, then it becomes a drudge. So when Polly decides to run away to the sea, I wanted my readers to feel her liberation. I think many of us would like to run off to the coast, especially one which is on the ‘real side’ of idyllic. I didn’t want to make the town of Shoresend too unbelievable.

Robin Hood’s Bay – could this be Shoresend?

BookTrail the locations in The Happiest Ever After

It’s not Cannes – but just a quiet, charming place with lots of interesting places nearby and a quirky history. Local folklore has sighted mermaids on that coast, something that was delightfully handy to read because it fitted in entirely with the fictional history I’d given it of mermaids giving the Brits a helping hand and sinking some of the ships of the Spanish Armada. I do enjoy adding convenient ‘fibs’ to facts and making them as believable as I can.

I am very much looking forward to talking about this book and promoting it and feel that the Edinburgh Women’s Fiction Festival will be an ideal place to start doing that and building up a buzz because my launch date in February will be here before I know it. I’m very proud of this one, I hope it’s a proper cheer up for people and that they can feel as if they are walking around a seaside town as they read even when they’re snuggled in an armchair.

 

 

Thanks Milly! Yorkshire is even better when we can travel with you!

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: Milly Johnson books

Twitter: @millyjohnson   web: millyjohnson.co.uk/

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