“One of my earliest memories is of being bribed to take my medicine by being given a picture book. It was Walt Disney’s ‘Bambi’ and even now I can remember the illustrations.
“Another memory is of being a grubby kid asking to join the library. I was told to bring proof of my address and to wash my hands. I ran all the way home, pulled a chair up to the sink, scrubbed my hands, combed my hair and ran back with a letter. Since then I have always been passionate about reading.
“Years later, after prompting from my husband, I went to university (I didn’t think university was for the likes of me) and eventually qualified as a librarian, then later as a creative writing tutor. It was when reading a book to the wee ones in a story time session that I thought, I can write that! It was a Eureka moment and I haven’t stopped writing since.
“It was in the 1990s that I first starting writing for the ‘Friend’. There is an emotional truth to their stories and one of my stories of which I was particularly proud was, ‘Doing Right By Maggie Dhu’. It was based on my grandfather’s experiences he was a shepherd. He always said to never make a pet out of a working dog. But when he died, my mother and her sisters tried to do just that. The dog went berserk and the story goes that the whole family felt the presence of my grandfather. It stopped when they sold the dog to another shepherd.
“Inspiration for my stories comes from many sources, a snippet of conversation, something I’ve read, friends, family and my own life. Once I get an idea I can walk for miles working the story out. I write direct onto the computer but with scribbled notes everywhere. If asked to revise a story I will. The ‘Friend’ is very good at giving advice and suggesting what will make a story work for their readers.
“I’ve written hundreds of stories for various magazines, several serials and, under my own name, Jill Bennett, Scots poetry for children. I go out to schools and do performances and workshops. I’m passionate about celebrating our young ones’ cultural heritage and promoting their self-esteem. To see the youngsters express themselves through the written word and in their own language is a joy. See www.scots4coolkids.co.uk
“Writing is my life, but when not at the computer I love working in the garden and walking in the countryside.”
Mhairi Grant’s latest story for the “Friend” “A Penny For The Guy” appeared in our issue dated November 7.