About Sally

A picture of Sally McLennan with an undercut

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.

If writing for children my aim 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.

However, though this remains true, I’m mostly writing for an older audience now. The Rift Tide Series is in the world from 30th July 2020 when Somewhere Else is released. It’s sequel, Sunrise, is well under way. A very adult novel called Spiral of Thorns is also in production. 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, a world of friends, and the universe.

The Church

Sally McLennan lives in an only slightly derelict 100 year old church in the Wairarapa, New Zealand.

The Church was built in the early years of last century and features lots of native New Zealand timber: its bones are matai, rimu, and totara. It was once in Paremata, on the other side of the country, and was called St Philip’s Anglican Church. Sadly, the land the church was on became worth a great deal and the church congregation faded. Since a long journey on the back of a big truck, it has a new life as the farmhouse at the centre of a Clydesdale horse breeding farm.

Sally lives at the Cottage with five cats, all naughty, and an even naughtier dog called Chumley Bumble. Clydesdale Stallion Max and his harem wander outside with 2 goats and 12 sheep.

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.