August 2, 2003
(translation by Gunnella and edited by Bruce)
Jump down to Gunnella text
Captures subject material in the historic island.
Childish humor characterizes the author of 43 children's books.
He wants to be nowhere else but here.
Bruce McMillan, the writer from the states, has stayed in Iceland many times making children's books that are very popular in the states. This summer he has been in Breiðafjörður and the northern part of the country.
He is now on his fifteenth visit to Iceland and says that he is so very lucky to be traveling here, not as tourist but getting to know Icelanders through the eyes of an Icelander. I have so many Icelandic friends that I like to bother them, make them happy, by visiting them with long and unexpected visits he says and laughs loudly.
A childlike humor is one his strongest characteristics that first you notice right away when you first meet him and maybe it isn't too much of a surprise because so far he has written forty-three children's books and is working on nine more (correction - four more here in Iceland). Workaholic?
"No, I'm just having so much fun with what is happening in my head, I just don't want to miss what is happening in there he says."
This is Bruce McMillan, the writer, the photographer from Maine, USA, who probably has done more for introducing Iceland to the US than many others in that field.
A few of his books take place in Iceland where the people are Icelandic and the story is put forth in Icelandic reality. He makes the stories as photographic stories and then he writes the text with strength and enthusiasm in the stories that make them absolutely incredible. Despite his joyful attitude, McMillan is a complete professional right down to his fingertips, a perfect professional, and his books are very popular in the states as the editions of his books shows.
"I get an idea for a story like in Nights of the Pufflings that happens in Vestmannaeyjar, and then I start by living in that place and taking all of the photos that I need for the story. Then I go home to Maine and write the story with the photos. Sometimes I need more photos to add and so I go back to Iceland to take more photos. Then I finish the story and I also design the book because, for me, this part of the whole process."
Collaboration with an Icelandic Painter
Two books which Bruce McMillan is working on now both happen in Iceland, but are very different from each other. One happens in Breiðafjörð and tells about a six-year-old boy who wants to become a fisherman like his grandfathers. He goes fishing with each of his grandfathers and comes back richer for his experience.
The other book is inspired by paintings made by Guðrun Elín Ólafsdóttir, Gunnella, and tells about what happens when chickens wanted to be like people. "I think the paintings of Gunnella are just great and the best part is that you can not help smiling when you look at them. There is so much humor in the paintings, like the painting of the Icelandic horse and the mysterious thing about the Icelandic horse is that he seems small but he really very tall. This is what I have been trying to tell my friends in the states about the Icelandic horse but I think this painting will show it perfectly."
Bruce says that this is an unusual book for him because the paintings are leading the way and that he is only making the text. The book is supposed to be called "What Happened to the Chickens?" (actually, The Problem with Chickens)
He says that he wrote the text at his friend's kitchen table in Sauðárkrókur in Skagafirður in July and is convinced that this will be a popular book, and that the paintings of Gunnella will get much attention.
A few years ago "Mál og menning" published the book, Nights of the Pufflings, and also another book that takes place in Hvallátur. It is about a little girl who hatches and raises little eider ducklings. "Now there has been so many changes in this publishing company and there is such uncertainty so I just hereby announce that I am open to a new publisher in Iceland." (Actually what I said was, "There have been recent changes in the Icelandic publishing world, especially with "Mál og menning", and should they pass on this book I'll be open to publishing in Iceland with another Icelandic publisher.")
He laughs loudly when he gets the question are you a foreign friend of Iceland.
"Já, John Travolta and I are in the same club. He is in the club just long enough to get gas for his plane, and me for never wanting to go back home to the US when I am here."