Mother-of-two Shirley-Anne McMillan, a former pupil of Fort Hill Integrated College and Wallace High School, has been writing for as long as she can remember.
Her latest novel The Unknowns, was released just a few months ago and has already caught the eye of the literary world. The Irish Times described it as “thought-provoking”.
The Unknowns, published by Atom and priced £6.99, is set in Belfast, and is about a young girl called Tilly who gets involved in a gang that is largely misunderstood. The gang takes her into a world of parties and abandoned houses, missions that involve break-ins and helping strangers in need. Her father, a journalist, sets out to find out everything about the gang.
Shirley-Anne, who was brought up in Lisburn, now lives in Dundrum with her husband and their two children, Alex (13) and Eoin (4). She is a teacher at Shimna Integrated College.
The Queen’s University English graduate took up writing seriously about five years ago when she was completing her Masters in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her previous works include the self-published Widows’ Row - a ghost story set in Newcastle - and the Atom-published A Good Hiding - a story about a Belfast girl who gets pregnant and runs away from her disapproving father.
“I don’t find it hard to come up with ideas,” she said. “If I come up with one I save it. I go and think about it for a while.
“Once you have an idea you need to process it and plan ahead and see where it takes you. If you don’t plan you suddenly feel that the story runs out and falls apart.
“It takes six months to a year for me to write a novel. I could do it a bit quicker but I have a four-year-old and commitments,” she added.
Shirley-Anne will be signing copies of her latest novel at Waterstones, Lisburn on March 22 from 7pm.
For more information log on to shirleyannemcmillan.com