Carol McKay was born on Christmas Day 1955 in the vast post-war housing scheme of Drumchapel in Glasgow, three closes from where city meets countryside, and spent the next twenty years of her life there. Her father, Allan McLeod, was a slater’s labourer; her mother, Margaret Hamilton, a shop assistant.
The youngest of four children, Carol attended local primary schools then won a place at the grant-aided fee-paying school Glasgow High School for Girls. This made her a misfit in her family and neighbourhood yet introduced her to a much wider world. The first in her family to attend university, she studied Librarianship and English at Strathclyde University and worked as a librarian in Glasgow and Lanarkshire until 1991.
She married Keith McKay in 1977 and moved with him to the south of France in 1991 for three years when he was appointed to a post in the IAEA Marine Environment Laboratory in Monaco. They have four children. Returning to the UK in 1994, she diversified by studying a correspondence course in freelance journalism and contributed on a regular basis to Family History Monthly magazine. She had a monthly column on local surnames in Cumbria and Lake District Magazine.
In 1998, she undertook a Masters degree in Creative Writing operated jointly at that time by Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities, graduating with an MLitt from Strathclyde in 2001. Her first publication – the short story, Marion – was published in Edinburgh-based literary magazine Cencrastus in 1999.
Her first poems were published in Glasgow-based literary magazine Cutting Teeth in 2001.
In 2002, her short story Unrestricted reached the final six of the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Short Story Competition. Later that year she was awarded a Writer’s Bursary by the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland).
Carol was a creative writing tutor and group facilitator in Lanarkshire for many years, working with community groups from both privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds. From 2004 till 2018 she was an Associate Lecturer teaching creative writing through The Open University.
In 2010, she was awarded the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship.
Carol lives with chronic health conditions. In 2010 emergency, she was diagnosed with life-threatening Addison’s Disease (Primary Adrenal Failure), which requires daily medication for survival. She also has Coeliac Disease. Both are auto-immune conditions.
In her writing, Carol grapples with contemporary issues such as alcoholism, troubled mental health and alienation and more generally, with themes of identity, belonging, language, class, women, and the restorative influence of the natural world.
Carol has been a committee member with the Association for Scottish Literature and the Scottish Writers’ Centre, and is a member of St Mungo’s Mirrorball and the Federation of Writers among others. For several years she was a book reviewer for UK charity Booktrust and for Northwords Now. For the last three years she has been a volunteer reader for the Highland Book Prize.
Carol’s work has been critically acclaimed in Northwords Now, Scottish Review, The Metro, and local press. Her poem ‘Holding All The Aces’, a personal account of Adverse Childhood Experiences, aroused considerable attention on social media among agencies working with ACE survivors. She was interviewed about her ebook Second Chances: true stories of living with Addison’s Disease on BBC World Service programme Healthcheck in February 2013.