Friday, July 29, 2016

Millie Gray

As you know, at the recent marketing lab I met one of those (few) people I call truly inspirational. So I was glad to nab her and ask her for a few words about her writing life for the here's introducing ( drum roll.......) Millie Gray.

I then looked up her biog on the book trust website. I think it shows what a powerhouse she is...


Millie Gray is a writer and professional storyteller who has the honour of being ’Arts Champion for Older People in Scotland.’ Her humorous plays attract audiences from all over Scotland and she is much in demand to do workshops and talks about her work as a writer and storyteller. Her love of Scottish culture and language shine through all of her work. Recently her work, inspiring people with mental health problems to engage with the arts, earned her a prestigious award in West Lothian. Millie who was born in Leith is a ‘people watcher’ who has a flair for recounting family tales in a humorous way. She is witty and has sharp insight.


"At the age of seventy five I decided that if I was going to follow my lifelong dream and write. I could not, as my starring role at Leith Crematorium was getting ever closer, put it off any longer.
Besides the fiend whose day role was to be a teacher, a teacher who thought that as I was an impoverished and deprived child from a questionable housing estate, she had the right to say to me as she cackled, 'No, no dear, people from your background, do not write for living. They work in factories and clean their betters houses.,' Anyway the old witch had just fulfilled my sixty year old wish for her and had keeled over - and before you ask, no I did not go to her funeral.

A typical single end. ( not very good for Hide and Seek!!)

My first book was taken immediately by my publishers, Black & White, and I have just finished book number eight and have a storyline in my head for book nine. Nobody is more surprised than I am that my books, which are social histories set in family sagas have been as popular as they have.

I just couldn't believe that forty five thousand people borrowed a Millie Gray book from the libraries last year. This is a feat because when I was growing up most people borrowed books from their libraries but now we can afford to buy a book or have Kindle downloads.
My books are mainly read by women who like myself have met adversity in life. I always have strong women as my central characters. They have managed by the end of the tale to survive and go on.

Auld Reekie... pre festival

The setting for the books up until the last one, 'Moving On,' are set in Leith. Leith is the strong industrial port of the majestic Edinburgh the capital of Scotland. Although Leith is on the east coast of Scotland it has more in common with Glasgow especially when it comes to humour and the ability to laugh at ourselves.

Like many places Leith has now a trendy waterfront with expensive restaurants

On reflection I think that my being able to tell a story is due to my being, what is called a Professional Storyteller, but look up storyteller the dictionary and you will see that the definition is liar.
For the future I would love to write a true life crime story. But as yet we have not found out what did happen to our cousin, Mavis, who disappeared eight years ago. Indeed which one of the many Walter Mitty lives she led was her true self? That might have to wait until book number ten.

So success came to me in later life – so what? I am proud of what I have achieved. I look at where we were. Granny lived in a single end and shared a 'lavvy' with forty other poor deprived souls, and today in our family we have a member of all the 'Group A' professions and my grandson has just moved into a detached four bedroomed house in leafy Haddington and of course it had to have the now mandatory two bathrooms because there are four of them living in that house. Mind you he does acknowledge that he had a wee helping hand from Granny who writes about her childhood when her top aspiration was to have an Izal Toilet Roll. Finally I never write directly about my siblings because they have all got on in life and would be so wrong for me to embarrass them."

                                                     I thought I'd put this at the bottom. Of the blog.

Millie Grey guest blogging for Caro 29 07 2016


  1. And I thought I started writing a bit late in life! Sounds like a terrific series that I hope my Kindle (I'm in a tree-book desert over here on Mykonos) can reach out to and embrace. Speaking of embracing, thank you for pointing out the proper use for IZAL, as for years my UK friends over here affectionately referred to it in the context of best being used to remove rust from a lorry bumper.

  2. The thought ISAL roll looked like something ISIL would use, kind of personalized IED...

    Welcome, Millie! I enjoyed your column a great deal, and wish you all the best.