Shirley-Anne McMillan

Posted by Sue Leonard on Saturday 6th August 2016

Shirley-Anne started writing as a teenager, penning song lyrics and poetry. And when she became a teacher, working in Integrated Schools, she turned her hand to children’s stories and picture books. But her debut is YA fiction.

“I’ve always read teen fiction,” she says, “so it was inevitable that I would end up writing it.”

Since giving up fulltime teaching, Shirley-Anne has worked in schools in extracurricular


“I taught literacy for a while, and I run Gay Student Alliance groups.”

Shirley-Anne also writes and performs with Ikon; a Belfast based Arts group.

Who is Shirley-Anne McMillan

Date of birth: 8th Sept 1975, in Lisburn

Education:  Fort Hill Girl’s School in Lisburn. Queens University, Belfast; English. Manchester Metropolitan University: Creative Writing.

Home:  South Down

Family: Husband Ian, Ana 11 and Eoin 2.

The Day Job: School worker and writer.

Interests:  Music. “I play the guitar and I sing. Living where we do, we love hill-walking.”

Favourite Writers: Melvin Burgess; Douglas Coupland; David Almond; Rainbow Rowell; Paul Magrs.

Second Novel: “I’ve finished the second book for Atom. Set in Belfast, it’s about a middle-class girl who joins a group of anarchists.”

Top Tip: “If you need to grab time in short bursts, keep your document open all the time. Then, whenever you get a minute, it’s there.”

Web:   Twitter: @shirleyannemcm

The Debut: A Good Hiding. Atom: €8.99.  Kindle: €5.33. 

Life is tough for Nollaig. Her mother died and her father has sunk into alcoholism. She’s tough; standing up to school bullies and to her father, but then she becomes pregnant. She’s 15, and fears a forced separation from her baby, so she goes into hiding.

She chooses the crypt of a church, and soon the vicar discovers her. But he has a secret of his own. Nollaig’s best friend, Stephen, helps her out; he knows, only too well, how it feels to be ‘different.’ Will the trio come through their problems and find a resolution?

Set in Belfast, this is a gritty, realistic tale.

“I hope readers will feel this was true to them; that it is real and authentic, and that they see the hope in it.”

The Verdict: Gritty yet heart-warming. Shirley-Anne is an exciting new voice in YA fiction.


Published in the Irish Examiner on August 6th, 2016.

© Sue Leonard. 2016

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