By Kathryn Armstrong Barnsley’s bestselling novelist Milly Johnson writes books that are full of heart, pageturning entertainment and Yorkshire wit. She’s just published her 21st in her 60th year. She shares the Yorkshire places that inspire her.

A place in Yorkshire that makes you smile?

Haworth. I have always loved that quirky little village, especially after Christmas when it was quiet and foggy. I used to skive off work and drive there and wish I lived there. So in my mid-twenties, I upped sticks and moved there, hoping to be bitten by a Bronte muse. Living a village life informed my writing so much and I met so many wonderful people and had very happy times. I was married there and had my children. Whenever I go back, I visualise myself riding a horse on Sunday morning hacks through the heather on the moors and at the time it felt as close to heaven as I was ever going to get.

A place in Yorkshire that you love to eat at?

There is an Indian restaurant on Mill Hill in Leeds near the train station called Tharavadu. The cuisine – Kerala influenced – features very different dishes to the ones you would usually associate with a typical Indian menu and we absolutely love it. My tastebuds exploded with joy the first time I tried a ‘dosa’. My partner is a vegetarian and this place caters beautifully for non meat-eaters. The ambience is wonderful and manages to be both buzzing and intimate at the same time.

A place in Yorkshire that you like to take friends?

I wrote a book featuring falconry a few years ago and contacted the Thirsk Falconry Centre to see if they’d help me with my research. I fell in love with the family – and the birds – and I go up there whenever I can to fly eagles and owls. It’s truly my happy place and I’ve taken friends up there to experience something really special. There is nothing like watching a huge eagle heading towards you and landing with a hump onto your arm – it’s amazing.

An early memory of Yorkshire?

Visiting Robin Hood’s Bay. There is so much hype about the beauty of Cornwall and I’m waiting for people to realise we have as pretty coastal places in Yorkshire, even with our own mermaid myths. I thought Robin Hood’s Bay was the most fascinating place I had ever been when I went as a child and I’ve been back many times since. Sometimes all you need is sea, sand and a dog to put the world to rights. A few of my books feature that area of Yorkshire because living near the sea is something I would love to do one day. Obviously a Yorkshire sea.

Great British Life: Top Withens, Haworth - the landscape loved by the Brontes has always inspired Milly. Top Withens, Haworth - the landscape loved by the Brontes has always inspired Milly. (Image: Getty)

Your cultural go-to in Yorkshire?

We have a fabulous little theatre in Barnsley called ‘The Lamproom’. I go there often to watch everything from the yearly panto (no kids, just pals) to musicals and ‘an audience with’s. One of the best evenings I’ve ever spent at a theatre was there in the company of John Cooper-Clarke. I took my son when he’d broken up with his girlfriend for a cheer up and my god did it do the trick. I even perform there myself on occasions. I’ve seen some fantastic so-called ‘provincial’ performances there that belong on a much bigger stage. It’s a jewel in the crown of our town. We have a lot of talent here.

A place for indulgence in Yorkshire?

I do love going to Bettys in York. My other half knows this and we like to book ahead so we don’t have to queue and a bottomless supply of sandwiches is in with the price. There is just something about the crockery and cutlery at Bettys that makes me feel like a lady when I’m partaking.

I’m never happier than when…

I’m touring around meeting readers, signing books. The people of Yorkshire have given me some amazing quips and ideas for plots when I’ve been conversing with them, unbeknownst to them. I think my fellow countymen are grateful that I’ve painted Yorkshire – and them – affectionately and so they have lifted me up on their shoulders and forged me a career. There is something extra warm and unique about my signings in Yorkshire with readers who claim me as their own.

A Yorkshire view that inspires?

I’m back in Haworth for this one. The ruins of Top Withens sent shivers down my spine when I first saw it and for anyone who is a fan of the Brontes, it is impossible not to believe you are staring at the ruins of Wuthering Heights which inspired such a powerful piece of writing. I think that Bronte muse bit me after all.

Three words that sum up your best Yorkshire life?

People. Inspiration. Home.

Great British Life: The Happiest Ever After by Milly Johnson is out now. Simon & Schuster, £16.99 hardback.The Happiest Ever After by Milly Johnson is out now. Simon & Schuster, £16.99 hardback. (Image: Simon & Schuster)