Author Spotlight: Ellie Marney
Describe yourself in one word:
What is your background with regard to writing?
I started writing as a kid, was too intimidated to write anything in university, then I got back into it properly a few years before my first son was born. I started entering competitions in 2004. After I won a few – including the 2010 Scarlet Stiletto Award for Australian women’s short crime writing – I thought it was time to try a novel. Every Breath was written the following year, and signed the year after.
That makes it all sound easy! It wasn’t, of course, it was a hard slog. But it was worth it. I’ve never studied writing, except for a few short courses.
When did you first begin writing with a view of embarking on a career as a published author?
I only started calling myself a writer after my first book was published. As much as I wanted to as a kid, I thought it was impossible to write for a career – I was told all through school that writers are poor, tortured people who live in garrets. Maybe if I’d set out to do this when I was twenty, that would have been true! But I was patient – I waited until after I had all my kids (we have four) and the call to write became more insistent. Even then, although I set myself goals, I had no aspirations to a writing career. I just kept scribbling away until it started snowballing.
Tell us a little more about Every Word:
Every Word is the second in the Every series of Young Adult romantic crime thrillers. The first book Every Breath introduced us to former country girl, Rachel Watts, and her eccentric bad-boy neighbour (and Sherlock-wannabe), James Mycroft, when they’re thrown into a murder investigation near the Melbourne zoo.
In Every Word, Mycroft’s traumatic past comes back to haunt him, and when he disappears to London with his forensic pathologist boss on the trail of a new mystery, Rachel hightails it after him. They end up in London unchaperoned, investigating the death of a book conservator and the theft of Shakespeare’s First Folio, with a lot of romantic tension and danger along the way…
Every Word carries on from your debut novel, Every Breath and once again we meet up with the central characters Rachel Watts and James Mycroft. What have been the biggest challenges in writing Rachel and James’ story?
Probably getting them to shut up! Honestly… Those two have a snappy banter that has been delightful to write, but they won’t stop talking in my head. That makes me sound a bit strange, I know, but I often feel like I’m just listening to overheard conversation and writing it down! All my books start with characters and dialogue, rather than planned plots, and sometimes the characters truly take on a life of their own.
What one character trait will most endear both Rachel and James to your readers?
They’re smart. In fact, they’re both extremely bright and do well in school, but they also have different types of ‘smarts’. Mycroft is more book-learning and facts and useful bits of chemistry trivia – he has those effervescent leaps of genius (very Sherlock!). Rachel is a practical ‘hands-on’ smart person – she’s from the country, so she can run a chainsaw, fix a pump, work a shotgun…that kind of thing. They complement each other that way.
Your books have been described as “smart, sexy thrillers for teenagers”—what do you want readers of young adult books to know about the romance genre?
That it shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure – romance is fun, entertaining, well-written. Good romance fiction evokes an emotional response in the reader, which is what a writer aims for. Romance writing has laboured under the ‘low fiction’ label (as I recently heard someone refer to it) for a long time. Romance isn’t trivial or ‘low’ – love is a genuine human concern. Where would most of story-telling, and song-writing, and other forms of art be without love?
Romance fiction also a great way of figuring out a few things about life and love for yourself before you launch into a real-life exploration of them. I encourage more teenagers – girls and boys – to read romance, to get a sense of the emotional (and physical) aspects of life ahead. And I would encourage YA authors to write about love honestly, in a heartfelt and realistic way, to point teenagers in the right direction.
If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing?
Probably reading! I read a lot – it’s the way I unwind, or get inspired. And then there’s always parenting, householding, other work…
What’s next for you?
Well, I’m in the middle of the to-print editing for Every Move, the third and final book in the series, which will be released in March 2015. Every Move reveals more about Rachel’s old life in the country, and Rachel and James both have a fight ahead with their own personal Moriarty hot on their tail…
I’ve also started work on my next book (more YA romantic crime!) which is tentatively titled No Limits. It’s set around Ouyen/Mildura, with a wrong-side-of-the-tracks wild boy who becomes a police informant, and gets involved with the local police captain’s daughter… I’m right into it at the moment, and am constantly wishing I had more hours in the day to work on it!
What book is currently on your nightstand?
Slim: A Bikie’s Story – I’m researching for the next book. Underneath that is Methland, about drug crime in rural small town America (are you sensing a theme?). And underneath that is Voyager (Outlander 3) by Diane Gabaldon – I love the series, the first book particularly, and the show Outlander is fantastic.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Stop being such a stress-head! Life will work out. (And don’t date Sean, he’s an arse)
It’s almost Christmas (yes, already!), tell us: what are you hoping to find under the tree this year?
Nothing, really. I don’t get that worried about presents. I would just like to have a nice quiet day – Christmas day is when we usually get ready to leave on our annual camping trip, so it’s always hectic. I’d kind of like a nice quiet Christmas just for once.
Favourite Christmas recipe?
Christmas cake – but I’m still searching for the perfect recipe. I try a new one out every year.
Favourite Christmas tradition?
Christmas crackers. The jokes always hang around in our family for the rest of the year.
Share with us your biggest New Year’s Resolution for 2015:
Exercise – I’ve been wanting to exercise more since 2002, ha.
Favourite travel experience?
Going to London with my partner a few years ago to research Every Word – we went without the children! (Wow!)
Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
Spend a week on the beach somewhere with my family
Milk, dark or white chocolate?
Red, white, bubbly?
Bubbly please 🙂
About the Author:
Ellie Marney was born in Brisbane, and has lived in Indonesia,Singapore and India. Now she writes, teaches, talks about YA literature at libraries and schools, and gardens when she can, while living in a country idyll (actually a very messy wooden house on ten acres with a dog and lots of chickens) near Castlemaine, in north-central Victoria. Her partner and four sons still love her, even though she often forgets things and lets the housework go. Ellie’s short stories for adults have won awards and been published in various anthologies. Every Breath, her first novel for young adults, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2013. The sequel Every Word came out in June 2014, and Every Move, the final book in the series, is due for release in March 2015. The Every series is published by Tundra Random House (Canada) in North America and the Philippines.