‘Meet the Author’ with Mila Johansen | TheUnion.com

‘Meet the Author’ with Mila Johansen

The Union staff

Public speaker director, teacher, playwright and author Mila Johansen has released a new book called, “From Cowgirl to Congress.” We snagged a few minutes of time with Johansen and asked her a few questions about her latest book and her life.

About Mila

Mila Johansen is a public speaker director, teacher, playwright and writer. She is the author of twenty-two plays and musicals that circle the globe along with two books. Mila teaches social media, screenwriting, creative writing, herbology, and public speaking at a local school for adults. Mila has just finished a book, “From Cowgirl to Congress,” about her famous suffragette grandmother, Jessie Haver Butler, for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in August 2020. Mila lives on her organic ranch in Northern California with her husband, four dogs and a cat.

What brought you to this area?

“From ‘Cowgirl to Congress’ is every woman’s story.”— Mila JohansenAuthor

We came to visit my husband’s aunt Doris Foley. We swam in the Yuba River and we were hooked. Rich and I have been living here for the past 39 years.


How did you get into writing?

I’ve wanted to write since I was eight years old. I started writing in earnest in my early twenties and never stopped. It is what I have to do every day. I love putting pen to paper and/or fingers on keyboard and creating inspiring stories. I have a few novels finished and some almost ready along with several children’s books.

What is your favorite book or who is your favorite author?

I grew up reading all 28 OZ books and loved the imagination of Frank Baum. My favorite writers now are Philippa Gregory (“The White Princess”) and Diana Gabaldon (“Outlander”).

 What is your book about? 

My book, “From Cowgirl to Congress,” is about my famous suffragette grandmother, Jessie Haver Butler, who helped raise me. It’s for the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in August 2020. Jessie was on the front lines of the suffrage movement in Washington D.C. with Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul as the first woman lobbyist. Before that, in 1912, she helped organize the Pulitzer School of Journalism at Columbia University. Then she helped set the first minimum wage for women from $4 a week to $8. She later spoke several times along side Bernard Shaw, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem and Marlo Thomas.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was given my grandmother’s archives a few decades ago and I started going through them and found her fly on the wall memoir. I felt inspired to be close to her again and started going through it, cutting it, editing it adding in foot notes. It wasn’t until I was a few months in that I recognized that the 100th anniversary was coming up and then I knew it was serendipity.

What do you find most challenging about writing a book?

The final stages are the most work. Finding the right editor, a professional book designer and then getting it published.

What is your key takeaway or message you hope readers find in your book?

From “Cowgirl to Congress” is every woman’s story. It is an eyewitness account of women winning the right to vote and the struggle they went through. It’s also a story for men because much of the book is about Jessie’s encounters with men. Also, Jessie escaped from a life full of tragedies and dangers on a Colorado cattle ranch to attend Smith. Against all odds, she became a professional, successful woman — a wife, a mother, a writer and a famous public speaker. She kept her career going strong until age 94.


Where can people find your book?

It’s available on Amazon as a paperback or an eBook and for sale or can be ordered from any bookstore.


Please describe what you’d consider your own perfect day.

Going for a long walk with my dogs then sitting down to write and ending with a swim in the Yuba River.

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