Anna McQuinn was born and raised in a small town in the west of Ireland, where her father was her school teacher from the time she was 8 till 12. Anna has fond memories of playing imaginative games with her brother, and of listening to her father and grandfather tell stories at bedtime.
Once she could read, Anna devoured everything in sight—even the back of the cereal box at breakfast! While Enid Blyton fed her fantasies for many years, the book that stands out for her as hugely special is Patricia Lynch’s The Turf Cutter’s Donkey. Until she read this story, Anna had never made the connection between books and real life; all the stories she’d read were set in the strange world of English villages or boarding schools. Anna credits the amazing library in her hometown, as well as the watchful eye of Miss Downey the librarian, for her voracious appetite for classic novels such as Little Women.
Anna began to develop her skills as a writer after she was laid off from her demanding, full-time publishing job. Since then, she has gradually developed and honed her writing, drawing inspiration from children of all ages as well as her own vivid memories of childhood. In My Friend Jamal (2008), and My Friend Mei Jing (2009), Anna examines the relationships between children from diverse cultures and celebrates the way they are able to bridge differences through shared interests, aspirations, and play.
Anna is proud to live in Slough, England, even though most people know it as the town derided in John Betjeman’s poem or as the setting for the U.K. version of the TV series The Office. She has been married for almost 20 years to a man who grew up in the same small Irish town as herself. A self-confessed basketball fanatic, Anna cheers on the Guildford Heat in the U.K., and has a passion for music and guitar. She spends much of her time reading crime novels and cereal boxes, and promoting her books.