About Sandy McKay
Sandy McKay is a writer of fiction and non-fiction for all ages.
Sandy was born and raised in Dunedin, New Zealand. As a child she always knew she wanted to write but didn’t know quite how or where to start. After leaving school at the beginning of the seventh form she decided to try her hand at waitressing, fruit picking and various office jobs. Then, at the age of 22 she enrolled at University of Otago and completed a BA (majoring in Political Studies) in 1984.
After completing her degree Sandy opened a fruit shop, which she ran until her first child was born, in 1987. It was then she began teaching herself how to write.
In the beginning she wrote long hand at the kitchen table. Most of her first stories were rejected but she was determined to get something published. After many false starts she began writing features for More, Next, Reader’s Digest and the NZ Woman’s Weekly. She also wrote a regular humorous column in Kiwi Parent magazine for 14 years.
After the birth of her daughter Meg, Sandy decided to write a junior novel. Recycled was published in 2001 and won Best in Junior Fiction at the 2002 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, in addition to being listed as a 2002 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.
While her children were small Sandy took advantage of a less structured life and made writing part of her daily routine. The strategy paid off.
Sandy was Writer in Residence at Dunedin College of Education in 2002.
Then Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was published by Longacre in 2004.
When Hannah’s family wins the lottery, life seems like it’s going to be great. But then her best friend won’t talk to her and a newspaper story about the win means the family is suddenly getting a lot of negative attention — someone wants them to hand over their money and Hannah has an idea of who it might be.
In 2005, Sandy’s book Barry and Bitsa was published as part of Puffin Books’ Kiwi Bites series. It was followed by I’m Telling on You in 2006, and Me and Jason Ballinger in 2007, which also appear in Kiwi Bites.
Losing It is a hard-hitting book for teenage readers, which looks at the contrasting lives of Jo, a girl confined by anorexia to hospital, and her best friend Issy, who is dealing with the everyday hassles of school and family. The work was listed as a 2008 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.
One Stroppy Jockey is the biography of jockey Christine Lawn. It follows the story of her fall from a race horse at Wingatui and her subsequent life in a wheelchair.
Sandy likes to write about everyday experiences. She combines a passionate belief in teaching literacy with her skills as a writer.
A writer needs to have the passion for story and the persistence to see it through.
My job is to write stories that are relevant and believable.
Writing is all about making connections between writers and readers. Writers need to be observant and they need to be interested in other people. For me story always starts with character.
It takes great skill to write simply and that’s what I try to do.
- Recycled – Winner of Junior Fiction Category, NZ Post Children’s Book awards, 2002
- My Dad, the All Black; Recycled; Losing it – Notable Book List
- Losing it – shortlisted for Esther Glen medal
- Writer-in-residence, Dunedin College of Education, 2002
- Adult Literacy Tutor at Literacy Aotearoa
- One-on-one tutoring
- Classes in – Writing Family Stories; Speaking Confidently; Men’s Literacy
- Available for Writer’s in Schools visits
- BA (Political Studies)
- NCALE (National Certificate in Adult Literacy Education)