Meet the author Sheena Wilkinson

Meet the author – Sheena Wilkinson

Grapefruit Moon by Shirley-Anne McMillan

I met up with local author Sheena Wilkinson in Magherafelt Library recently. Her award-winning children’s books range from pony stories to historical fiction with a popular trilogy based round Irish history from theauthor Sheena Wilkinson beginning of the 20th Century (‘Name Upon Name’, ‘Star by Star’, and ‘Hope Against Hope’)
Full disclaimer -this isn’t the first time I have met Sheena – she kindly came along to my Reading Group last year to talk about her first adult novel ‘Mrs Hart’s Marriage Bureau’. Her previous books are for a younger age group and I was keen to hear about her next projects.

Sheena Wilkinson titles available on the Libraries NI catalogue

In our last meeting I had become aware of her passion for looking back in time at female friendships, feminism and equal opportunities for women - themes which came across strongly in ‘Mrs Hart…’ I was fascinated to discover that her first publication had been her PHD thesis published in 2007. It is titled ‘Friends in the Fourth: girls school and college friendships in twentieth century British fiction’, and features critiques of a lot of my old favourite reads as a child – Mallory Towers, St Clare’s and The Chalet School as well as others new to me. It is no surprise then to find out that she has been approached by a publisher and commissioned to write her own Girls School story. Based in a 1920’s South Belfast fictional Girls School it sounds fascinating and hopefully will be the start of a series of stories. Also in the pipeline is a follow up to Mrs Hart which I know my Reading Group will be glad to hear about, as well as plans for a Memoir.

Her own background of growing up in East Belfast within a mixed marriage in the 70’s has coloured her own outlook on life and may also explain her desire to write about our own country’s history in fictional terms. Her subsequent move away from the city to Castlewellan to be closer to her beloved horses, her life as a teacher before going fulltime as a writer, and her marriage late in life to a widower, not to mention becoming step-mum to a teenage boy, I’m sure will make a fascinating read.

Flying Tips for Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrainI was interested too to talk to Sheena about the resurgence of N.Irish writers for teenage and YA age groups. She is really encouraged to have others putting their heads (and books) above the parapets tackling the hard subjects which young people nowadays want to read about. Identity, bullying, relationships, as well as understanding our shared history are all topics covered by new authors such as Sue Divin, Shirley-Anne McMillan, Jenny Ireland and Kelly McCaughrain and well worth recommending to any YA readers you know.

Titles on the Libraries NI catalogue:
Shirley-Anne McMillan
Jenny Ireland
Sue Divin
Kelly McCaughrain

Grapefruit Moon by Shirley-Ann McMillan

Listen to my interview with Sheena Wilkinson below.

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