top of page

Tamar Valley Storytellers: Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Updated: Feb 22

Johanna has always worked with words — professionally as a media officer and journalist, and writing creatively and blogging for fun at

Published works include the crowd-funded book Business & Baby on Board, fiction published online by Transportation Press and Forty South Magazine and memoir pieces in Love Alters: A Love for All Seasons and Unfinished Chapters.

Johanna recently completed a PhD at University of Tasmania, investigating how journalists use social media texts when reporting on crises and exploring themes of speed, ethics and veracity in news reporting.

1. What are you working on?

I'm in the final stages of editing a short story, written slowly over the course of 2021 as part of a self-paced short story writing course through the Australian Writers' Centre. As someone who is more familiar with writing news and feature articles or speeches, fiction is new to me so I'm taking my time to get it right. Now I've finished my PhD I'm giving myself some space to decide which big writing project to tackle next. I've got a few ideas for novels and some creative non-fiction works swimming around in my head.

2. How does the Tamar Valley influence your writing?

I frequently find the Tamar Valley and its surrounds cropping up in my fiction writing as a character, because I often come up with ideas for stories while walking my dog Bastille. There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the river or that gorgeous light reflecting off an autumnal vineyard in the afternoon golden hour for setting my creativity in motion. However, when I worked as a journalist I covered stories with this beautiful valley at their heart. The Tamar Valley was the inspiration for, or location of, businesses and events I wrote about and presented the backdrop to important issues impacting the region and its residents.

3. What themes are you exploring?

The short story I'm working on now deals with love, betrayal and independence. The other ideas I mentioned span themes of resilience, fear, crime, love and death.

4. Describe for us where you write.

Most of my writing happens in two places: at the messy dining room table or while sitting on the lounge with a view of the garden while life goes on around me. But I do have plans for a writing studio/granny flat in my backyard someday...

5. Finish this sentence, "I want my writing to..."

I want my writing to stay with my reader long after they've finished the story.

6. What's your favourite read so far this year?

My friend Jodi Gibson recently launched her rom com The Five Year Plan, which was delightfully fun to read but also made me think of how much I miss travelling and exploring other cultures. Jodi's characters felt like people I knew well, struggling with issues I found familiar. Plus it had the added appeal of being set in Italian cafes and restaurants! Another favourite was Phosphorescence by Julia Baird, which I found both inspiring and instructive to read in the early stages of my recovery from a horrific ankle injury. Like Julia, I find a calmness and healing quality around water, so I appreciated how she used it while undergoing and recovering from cancer treatment.


bottom of page