Author Interview #6: Shirley-Anne McMillan

This week’s featured author is Shirley-Anne McMillian, a local young adult author. Find out more at her website.

13996289_10154253291760781_383901883916767959_o-1Shirley-Anne McMillan lives in South Down with her family where she works as a writer, and schools worker. In 2014, she won the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices competition with an extract from A Good Hiding which was published by Atom in August 2016. Set in Belfast, A Good Hiding is Shirley-Anne’s first traditionally published Young Adult novel.

1) How long have you been writing for, and why did you start?

I remember asking my dad when I was wee how to write my name. I think I’ve enjoyed it since then. I wrote stories but mainly poetry when I was a teenager. Then song lyrics. Then I went to university and wrote more poetry, and I tried and failed to write a novel. It was around that time, aged about 18, that I decided I wanted to be serious about writing as a career (although I didn’t tell anyone that for a really long time). So I was sending away work and getting rejection letters for around 20 years before I had my work accepted by a publisher. But in the meantime I wrote lots of things and I always really loved it.

2) Out of everything you have written, what is your favourite piece and why?

That’s a really hard question to answer because I usually find that I’m enjoying the thing I’m working on best. Writing a novel is like having a really great secret and you can’t tell anyone until it’s completely finished. So I think I’m going to say that my favourite piece is the one I’ve just started and I literally just started it today!

3) Which author is your biggest inspiration?

I’m not sure I can narrow it down but Melvin Burgess, Nick Hornby and David Almond have all written books which I tend to return to and which I wish I had written myself.

4) You took part in the most recent Belfast Book Festival, how was that experience?

It was lovely. I was on a panel with Sarah Mussi and Andrew Moore and they were both really kind and interesting. It’s great that the Belfast Book Festival features Young Adult writers and I hope I can do more events like this. It’s also really cool to be at an event with a green room and free snacks. I think I will always be excited by free snacks.

5) What are your plans for the future? Are any more books in the pipeline?agoodhiding_draft-3-1
Atom bought two novels from me: A Good Hiding and another one. I’ve just finished the first draft of the other one and so I plan to spend the next few months working with the editors at Atom on it. It should then come out in the summer of 2017. It’s another Young Adult novel about a girl called Tilly who is well behaved in school and who plans to go to university, but she’s also really bored, and she has a secret hobby; at night she sneaks out of the house and goes free climbing. She climbs up cranes and tall buildings without ropes or harnesses. One night she’s out climbing and she meets a boy called Brew who lives in a derelict building. He introduces her to his gang of anarchist activists and they get up to all sorts of shenanigans in Belfast and the surrounding area.


One thought on “Author Interview #6: Shirley-Anne McMillan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *