About Sally

I have always tinkered busily with words.

The result seems to be stories about worlds like our own in some ways, many silly songs, and quite a lot of good tries.

My aim as a children’s writer is to wise up children rather than dumbing down books. In other words, I don’t aim my writing at a specific age group, but at people.

Sometimes, however, those that know tell me that a project underway cannot be described as writing for children – for instance, author Joan Vinge passed this comment about Diggers. As a result, alongside current projects for young readers, I am writing for an older audience in my first novel, Spiral of Thorns. In all my stories I try to capture my sense of wonder at the world and often use writing to mull over things that I see day to day. I consider writing to be a long conversation between my heart and the universe.

The Cottage

Sally McLennan lives at NoneSuch Cottage in Christchurch, New Zealand.

‘None-such’ means a person or a thing without equal, a paragon of its kind. The Cottage was built in the early years of last century and part of the woodwork in it came from a chapel dating back to the 1850s. It has lots of hand worked wood in the arts and crafts style, stained glass windows, and red brick paths winding through a garden full of foxgloves and roses. It was built by a gentleman artist to be a home for himself, and his two daughters, after his wife died. Sally’s writing room was once his painting studio.

Sally lives at the Cottage with Dougal, Noo, and Haku.

Ancient History

My bloodroots are Manx, Bohemian, Danish and Irish.

The McLennan family has been associated with fairy folklore for centuries on the Isle of Mann, and traces it roots there back beyond the Viking Red Erik, a famed explorer and sheep stealer!

A Settler's Hut
My family has now been in New Zealand for five generations on both sides. Bohemian ancestors made the last miles of their journey to Puhoi in Maori canoes and sank to their knees and wept when they arrived. There, for many hard years in the middle of the 1800s, they made tea out of biddy biddies and lived in rough shanties like these.

I taught myself to read out of a book about dinosaurs when I was four. Then, I read avidly in primary school not knowing that the books the teacher used to teach us were written by my mother’s cousin, Carol Blackburn, a prolific writer for children who was published internationally. Another children’s author in my family is Mere Whaanga-Schollum.

A dear family friend was known as “The Chewing Gum Lady.” Her real name was Joyce Carey and we called her this because she always brought us chewing gum when she visited. In 1979, she gave my brother and sister and I each a signed copy of her book “Children from Gemstone Mountain.” I spent a long time bending her ear about wanting to be a writer too. She must have inspired me. I won my first award for writing when I was eight years old. It was for a poem featuring dragons.