Where did the idea for the book come from?
HINTON: We were on a fundraising tour for Love Your Sister, where Sam unicycled across Australia. I decided to get out of my comfort zone and introduced myself to everyone, and I started hearing amazing stories that I would share with Sam and the road crew at night. They were as inspired as I was by them, so it grew from there.
Sam, what inspired you to get involved with your sister’s work?
Seeing Hilde come back every day and type away all night, I was very jealous. I wanted to be a part of it, so I hijacked her project.
How was it working so closely together on a book?
HINTON: It was a privilege to work so closely with Sam. He’s my best friend.
There was no sibling rivalry then?
JOHNSON: There were definitely some robust conversations that we had to have to get the best work out of each other.
How did you choose the stories that were published?
JOHNSON: Every story is about someone who showed grace and dignity in the eye of the storm, and who chose to ease the path of others. They also don’t have tabs on themselves. We were looking for the people who don’t like to talk or be praised for their acts – the unsung heroes in society.
Why did you think it was important to recognise the stories of people we’ve never heard of?
HINTON: Through this book, I learned that everyone has a story and has overcome adversity. It was about finding those who harnessed it, flipped it on its head and used their experience to benefit their community. Heroes aren’t just first responders, they are the everyday people who live amongst us and commit small acts of kindness to make lives easier. They are the neighbour who drops off a plant every anniversary for 22 years after your daughter has passed away to make sure you don’t feel alone.
What do you hope people will feel when they read these stories?
JOHNSON: I think this book will make people examine the way they get through life and hopefully inspire them to do good things for others.
Do you have a favourite story?
HINTON: It’s hard to pick a favourite as they’re all so diverse. Sam and I are highly invested in every single one.
How is fundraising going for Love Your Sister?
JOHNSON: It’s going amazing. We’ve surpassed $13 million now and still going strong despite the pandemic. We couldn’t be happier.
You said you wouldn’t return to acting until you raised $10 million. Any chance we might see you pop back up on our screens soon?
JOHNSON: I’m back. I’m filming an eight-part drama called Eden for Stan [about a chain of events triggered by the disappearance of a young woman on the NSW North Coast] as we speak. After six years, it’s strange and wonderful to be back in front of the camera.
What’s coming up next for both of you?
JOHNSON: Around Mother’s Day 2021 expect to see a collection of letters from notable Australians to their mums from the Love Your Sister foundation.
HINTON: I’m chipping away at my next novel. I’m about halfway through.
Sam, what advice would you give your younger self?
JOHNSON: I’d tell myself to hang on in there as it’s going to get better. And sure enough, it did.