Janis Mackay

Janis Mackay (b. 1959), Edinburgh, Scotland

I am a writer, storyteller and creative writing tutor. At present I have three novels for children in print – all published by Floris books.

The first one, Magnus Fin and the Ocean Quest, won the Kelpies prize in 2009 – an award for writing a prize winning novel for children aged 7 – 12, set in Scotland.

The second one is titled Magnus Fin and the Moonlight Mission.

And the last in this trilogy, Magnus Fin and the Selkie Secret, is about underwater hero Magnus Fin who learns he is half human/half seal.

I wrote these novels while living in the far north of Scotland, by the North Sea. My inspiration came from the beach, the seals, the ocean, and also from Scottish mythology. As a storyteller I enjoy drawing from traditional myths and using them as a basis for a contemporary story. The story of the selkie is a popular legend in Scotland. The selkie is a seal that can take off their seal skin, change into a man, woman, boy or girl then put on their seal skin again and slip as a seal into the sea. Except some selkies lose their skins!

While in Suomenlinna I hope to research and begin a new novel where I weave together Scottish and Finnish characters and cultures. One possible idea is to take the Samai ringed seal – their threats and mystery, and have a Scottish selkie travel to the northlands – bringing together salt water and sweet water – fusing mythologies.

I will also be meeting with people in Helsinki who are involved with children’s books. On Monday, May 14 at 6 pm I will give a storytelling performance at Luckan (Simonkatu 8), in Helsinki, as part of the International Storytelling Café, together with storyteller Judith Black from USA. I am very happy to meet with people, to share my work and to learn of their work. On Thursday, May 17 at 6 pm I will give a storytelling performance at Story Club in Lenininpuisto. I will do a reading also at Arkadia bookshop on Saturday May 26 at 1 pm. I have visited many schools in Scotland as an author and am happy to visit The English School in Finland on May 16.

Realised in context of The Scottish Book Trust Finnish Residency for Children’s Writers funded by Creative Scotland as part of the Creative Futures residency programme.