by Kelly McInenly
Kelly knew Little Milly Lake as Grandma Mill McInenly. The usually serious Mildred would occasionally surprise her granddaughter with tales of the fun and mischief that she and her five older sisters found growing up in the Maritimes in the early 1900s. The combination of little money or supervision, and a notoriously grumpy father, made for simple stories with just the right blend of silly and sweet.Little Milly and the Great Lakes is Kelly’s first creative writing endeavor… she has been distracted by Little Mateo and Little Lucas.
Get silly with Milly on her other adventures…Bess and the Boil, Marj and the Medal, and Peg and the Party Line.
Smug as pie, Marj skipped off to claim her big loot,
The prize: A 1-gallon jar stuffed full of dried fruit.
“Marj, won’t you please share… just a wee apricot?”
“Prizes are for winners, and win you did not!”
Marj sat on the dock, pleased as mean Mr. Punch,
And gobbled her winnings… a victory lunch!
Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in Ottawa and lived there until my graduation year, when my father was transferred to Winnipeg for work. I lived in Winnipeg for my final year of high school (which I completed in the University of Winnipeg’s Collegiate program), then ran back to the warmth of Ontario as quickly as I could to attend Queen’s University in Kingston. I lived in Peterborough for the first year after my graduation, and have been in Toronto ever since… I am a smaller city girl at heart, but I do enjoy being able to take my kids on the subway, walk the financial district with them, and have access to shows and exhibits from around the world. Their dad is Colombian, so we have had the chance to spend time exploring the cities and natural reserves of that beautiful country.
Tell us about your book? How did it get started?
Little Milly started as an attempt to archive the stories my grandmother used to tell me about the adventures that she had growing up with five sisters, no mother and a grumpy father. I put pen to paper when she passed away, but I did not start the publish process until my children were of reading age. Set in the Maritimes in the early 1900s, I think the stories are timeless and forgiving of my slow process. Books 1-3 feature 3 of the sisters – Marj, Peg and Bess – and Books 4-6 are underway to tell the tales of Ene and the Ivy, Flo and the Fishermen and Milly and the Mail.
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I get my ideas from gaps I notice. I published the Little Milly series to fill a void in the children’s section… there were very few options that weren’t ultra-weird, sassy and written in clean English. There seem to be other parents like me who are seeking simple, sweet bedtime stories that they find pleasant to read and that their kids enjoy while settling in for the night.
My next project, Foundation Before Creation – a business book for young people I am co-authoring with my longtime friend and professional colleague, Julien Leblanc – is an attempt to bridge the divide between academia and reality. After years of on-boarding new graduates and coaching executives, Julien noticed a consistent and concerning gap between academic achievement and organizational effectiveness. While academic pedigree provides a solid foundation, that foundation may be too hard, lacking the soft skills that enable agility, creativity and, ultimately, success. We hope it will be short enough to read on a short-haul flight but salient enough to stay on a desk as a resource for an entire career.
What do you like to read?
While the Little Milly series is silly and bright, my reading preferences skew a little more toward the sober and dark. I mainly read non-fiction focused on true crime, social science and negotiation. The latest I have read in all three spaces are I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Malcolm Gladwell) and Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As if Your Life Depended On It (Chris Voss). They were all delicious reads in their own way, but my all-time favourite book is How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)… everyone can benefit from reading it (even kids!). I read a lot of law enforcement-related books with my youngest who is an aspiring spy.