Michelle is the author of two novels for young adults – Flying through Clouds and Racing the Moon – and was awarded the SCBWI Spark Award (Older Readers) 2017. Four of Michelle’s plays have been performed in Short Play festivals in Sydney, Newcastle and Armidale. She has also co-written many songs with her husband, Luke Johnson, and co-produced Luke’s new album, Goodbye Frankie.

Where it all began

Michelle grew up in Sydney and, from a young age, loved books, drama, movies and writing. In primary school, she adapted Oliver Twist for the school stage, and had the enthusiasm but not the ability to direct it as well.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Information Studies, Michelle worked for many years as a librarian in public and academic libraries. After deciding she wanted to teach, she completed a Graduate Diploma of Education, majoring in English.

In 1988, she made a tree change to the Southern Highlands with her husband, Luke, young daughter, Rebecca, and son, Ben, born six months later. They lived on an idyllic acreage and, inspired by the laid-back rural lifestyle, Michelle and Luke wrote many songs together. Michelle wrote the lyrics and left the music, singing and guitar-playing to Luke.

They moved to Norfolk Island in 2001, where in between voluntary work as a researcher at the local museum and casual teaching at the school, Michelle wrote a screenplay as well as the first draft of Racing the Moon. The screenplay was the result of an online screenwriting course with the Australian Film Television and Radio School.

After returning with her family to the Southern Highlands and full-time work in 2005, Michelle was keen to continue writing and pursue her love of theatre. She studied short courses in playwriting at the NSW Writers’ Centre, Griffin Theatre and NIDA. Four of her plays were performed in short play festivals between 2009 and 2012.

In 2012, she discovered the first draft of Racing the Moon in the back of a drawer, and started work on it again. After attending a Getting Published workshop at the Faber Academy in Sydney, a publisher from Allen & Unwin contacted her with the exciting news that they were interested in publishing her novel. By the time Racing the Moon was published in 2014, she had also written the first draft of Flying through Clouds. Three years later in April 2017, after working with professional editors and a talented young cover and layout artist, she independently published Flying through Clouds, and in 2018 was awarded the SCBWI Spark Award (Older Readers). 

Having worked on the script of Karma for over five years, it was very exciting to have excerpts of the play performed as part of the Storytellers Festival at Kings Cross Theatre in Aug / Sept 2019. 

Michelle and Luke have written many songs together, which have been performed by Luke over the years. Luke’s new album, Goodbye Frankie, was released in February 2021.

Read more about Michelle’s writing and Luke’s new album on the blog.

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