McLean, Jeannie

McLean, Jeannie



In Brief

Jeannie McLean writes fiction for young adults. She has also worked as an educator and a business manager. McLean’s novels and short stories are often concerned with contemporary issues facing teens, especially bullying and peer pressure, and usually feature young male characters living in extreme circumstances. McLean’s young adult novels include Such Good Mates (1999) and Impact (1999). Jeannie McLean is available to talk to intermediate and secondary school aged children as part of the Writers in Schools programme.


McLean, Jeannie (1952 –) writes young adult fiction.

Jeannie McLean was born in Northern New South Wales and educated in Queensland. She completed a Bachelor of Education (1974) and later gained a Diploma in School Management (1995) and a Graduate Diploma in Business (2004).

After settling in Auckland, McLean began her professional life as a teacher, assistant principal, deputy principal, and human resource manager. At present she is Business Manager at an Auckland Secondary School.

As a writer McLean is concerned with contemporary issues facing teens, especially bullying and peer pressure. Set in a realistic New Zealand, McLean writes strong young male characters in extreme circumstances.

McLean’s young adult novels include Such Good Mates (New House Publishers, 1999) and Impact (New House Publishers, 1999). She has also had three titles published by Gilt Edge Publishers in 2007, including A Few Minutes, Being Theo, and Fab, a non-fiction magazine.

Jeannie McLean lives in Auckland and participates in Writers in Schools.


McLean is available to talk to intermediate and secondary school aged children. She is prepared to discuss teen-fiction writing, how and why she writes, her ideas, and the value of reading. Her preferred class size is 12-16, with a maxumum of 20 pupils. She is able to run workshops for groups of 10-16 by prior arrangement. She is prepared to travel out of town for Writers in Schools visits.

Kapai: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information

Where do you live?
In Auckland, in a large sunny house just right for writing.

What books do you read?
I like to read crime stories, but occasionally I think I should expand my mind and I try to read something ‘worthy’. However, crime stories usually win. Give me a good story with a bit of blood and gore and I am happy.

Who is your favourite writer?
I really like Maurice Gee. I admire the imagination and the great storytelling. I like Charles Dickens for the same reason. However, I like reading. Maybe not a ‘favourite author’ rather, ‘favourite stories’.

How do you think up your ideas?

Some of them just appear in my mind. Others, I find I link into a particular event, and I let my mind wander on the ‘what if’. For example, I read about a bullying incident in Germany that was reported in the New Zealand Herald, and out of that grew my novel Impact.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
The ability to live so many different lives.

Some questions from Primary School students

What sort of pets do you have?
None at present, although I grew up with, at first, a part corgi dog called Tami, and then a daschund called Twinkle toes.

What is your favourite colour?
Red, for the sunset and green for the fresh new growth.

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite movie?
I really enjoy going to the movies and so I have many favourites, far too many to list.

What is your favourite game?
Scrabble. I love words!

What is the most fun thing about being an author?
Being able to ‘be’ so many different people.

How do you make books?
The idea of a character or a storyline seems to come to me. I think about it for a long time and then I start to write. The characters and the story grow.

Where do you go for your holidays?
My family lives in Australia so I try to visit them as often as I can, but I really like to go to places I have never visited, only heard about, like Iceland and Morocco.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
Talked my way out of trouble when I refused to complete a required PE Activity (leap frog over a very tall pole). The Principal took pity on me and didn’t call my parents.

Some questions from Secondary School students

How did you get started?
I have been writing since I was at high school and won a short story competition. I was encouraged by this; suddenly, it seemed possible to be a ‘writer’.

Who inspired you when you were getting started?
My mother was very encouraging, an English teacher was very interested and so many people around me didn’t laugh when I often said I wanted to be a writer.

What advice would you give an aspiring young writer?
If you want to write, write. Persevere. Most of us have a very large number of rejection letters.

Is it difficult to make a living writing in New Zealand?
Certainly. Being a writer in New Zealand does not mean being famous or rich. You write because you feel the urge to.

What were you like as a teenager?
Generally, well behaved, a little talkative and certainly quite confident on the outside.

Is there anything else you could tell students about yourself?
I could tell you about my older brother who thought it was such a joke to hide under my bed and grab at my ankles when I least expected him to be there. He said the sound of my screams, and then of my Mum yelling at him to behave himself were worth all the waiting for me to walk past the bed - which might take hours!


Updated January 2017.