Helen McKinlay was born in Wellington. Her varied life has included the Kiwi OE and work as a nurse, a midwife and a mediator.
As well as being a published poet with a long time interest in live poetry and the promotion and encouragement of her fellow poets, she is the author of the bestselling ‘Grandma’ picture books, about a down to earth great-grandma whose special brand of marmalade has helped everyone from policemen in a faint, to the All Blacks, Santa’s reindeer and the guards at Buckingham Palace. In 2018, Grandma Joins the All Blacks was listed in Booksellers choice twenty bestsellers of the decade.
Helen lives in the Top of the South where, apart from a few years in Christchurch and some extended time in Dunedin and Auckland, she has spent most of her adult life. She has two daughters and is the devoted 'Grammy' of two small granddaughters. In her spare time, she loves to read, garden and walk by the sea.