A novel career

Local author Julie Johnson has published six contemporary romance novels.


For those of you who think fairy tales don’t come true, take a moment to meet Swampscott High School graduate Julie Johnson. The 2010 graduate has published six contemporary romance novels and is working on her seventh.

Let’s start by looking at her life prior to when she published her first book, impressively while still a student at the University of Delaware. Before she got there, Johnson gradated in the top five percent of her Swampscott High School class with academic honors. She was a member of the National Honor Society, served as treasurer of Student Council and editor of the yearbook and was a varsity athlete. Classmates knew her as Julie Johnson Liscio but she opted to drop her last name and use her middle name (which is also her mother’s maiden name) as her pen name for marketing and branding purposes.

“My readers often refer to my novels as “JJ books” and JJ has become something of a nickname for me amongst friends since I started publishing,” she says.

After being admitted to the University of Delaware with an academic scholarship, she chose a double major in communications and psychology. She wrote her first novel “Like Gravity” as a junior in college and self-published it as an experiment. The coming-ofage story set in college was Johnson’s way of filling a void she saw in the market, which she describes as “romance novels for girls like me.”

“I expected to sell two copies, one to each of my parents,” says Johnson. Within the first two months she sold enough copies to pay off her student loans. “Amazon would call me up and ask me how I was doing this and I told them that I couldn’t talk because I was in between classes.”

After she graduated cum laude, one semester early, she moved back to home to Nahant to pursue a full-time writing career.Along with churning out best-selling novels, Johnson handles all aspects of self-publishing including marketing, design, book signings, pricing and sticking to a schedule of writing 3,000 words each day.

“As a self-published author I get to keep 70 percent of royalties,” says the savvy 25-year-old.

She loves to come back to Swampscott and spend a Saturday afternoon with her mother, enjoying lunch and shopping. She tends to run into many of her former classmates—some of whom have loyally followed her career. “I have the most supportive group of readers,” says Johnson, noting that she often adds inside jokes to her stories for her family and friends. She is very close to her parents, Christine and David Liscio, and her brother, Zack, who lives in San Diego.

After she finishes a book, Johnson takes a couple of months off to travel and refill the creative well. She recently visited Budapest where one of her novels was set and checked it off her bucket list. “My ultimate dream is to live on a sailboat, write books, travel the world and sail off into the sunset,” she muses.

For now, she is enjoying being single and living in Boston but will probably return to the North Shore one day. A true romantic, she leaves her love life in the hands of destiny.

“I wouldn’t be much of a romance writer if I didn’t believe in fate,” Johnson says.