Rosie learned to run sentences together in Northern Ireland where she was born. After a law degree at Cambridge, she trained as a solicitor with maps of the Sandringham estate holding up her wonky desk. While her three children were little, she wrote freelance for the Evening Standard in Max Hastings’ days, the Independent on Sunday, Sunday Tribune and various magazines.
The idea was that journalism would limber Rosie up for fictional writing and it did teach her to make words clear, short and to the point. Rosie spent years studying writing wherever she could and learned about growing fictional characters, crafting plot and how rejections toughen you up. One day a contract for her first novel arrived. It was so unexpected, she was sure it was meant for somebody else but it was hers. Rosie has since been published in Dublin, London and Belfast.
Coinciding with one of those patches where life gets in the way of plans, poetry has come to the fore with three books published by Dennis Greig of Lapwing Publications since 2010 in Rosie’s native Belfast. Lapwing has published a fourth, Six-Count Jive, in March 2019.
Rosie’s short poems nearly missed Dennis’s attention. He had the grandkids round to play, gave them sheaves of paper and crayons to play with, turned one of the masterpieces over as he was clearing up and saw Rosie’s submission of a few poems. He decided on the spot to publish them, as Sweet Seventeens.
Rosie’s poems have appeared or featured in Ink Sweat & Tears, Hedgerow magazine, London Grip, Culture NI, FourxFour and The Honest Ulsterman, in Live Canon’s anthologies 154: In Response to Shakespeare’s Sonnets (2016) and More New Poems for Christmas (2018) and on the ‘Poems and Pictures’ blog of the Mary Evans Picture Library website. She has read her poetry at Hungerford Literary Festival, Watford’s Big Word festival, Winchester’s Loose Muse, the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, the Troubadour, Torriano, In-Words in Greenwich, the Norwich Bicycle Shop and Whitstable’s Harbour Books. (She welcomes invitations to read wherever you are.) Between 2014 and 2018 Rosie was poet in residence for the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust. In September 2018 she also completed a four-year term as Chair of the Association Committee at Churchill College, Cambridge, where she set up and has led the Churchill Writers group since 2011.
She is working on a non-fiction book to explore and share understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
WHICH ROSIE JOHNSTON?
You will find several Rosie Johnstons on Google, busy all over the world. There’s an Australian celebrity make-up artist (Rosie Jane Johnston), a fine artist also in Australia (Rosie Wingrove Johnston), a Rosie Johnston who produces and directs opera (for Opera Unlimited) and another who works for Radio Prague.
There’s even an English one who did time in jail for murder and wrote a memoir about it. If you’ve read The Most Intimate Place, you could be forgiven for deducing from its prison detail that the Rosie of this website and she are the same person but they are not. The research for The Most Intimate Place came from ten years as a prison visitor. This Rosie wishes all other Rosie Johnstons every success and happiness.